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TVO: What's Wrong With Toronto Condos?

TheKingEast

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Interesting discussion here:


Agree with most of what was said. We're building a lot of crap and there are many reasons why. Biggest reason is speculation IMO. Speculators don't give 2 poops what the builidings will look like or how they will impact the neighbourhood.
 

Adjei

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The presenter represents whats wrong with the condos which are being built. He states that because consumers are buying so things should matter. The reason why we have all this repeating boring crap is because of attitudes like this. He doesn't understand that these condos represent city building. We are building our city, we should have more pride in our city. The people in other cities are concerned about design and building up their city and make sure that their city reflects that. We need the leaders of the city recognizing this and working with the builders and architectures to improve the current dire situation.
 

TheKingEast

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The presenter represents whats wrong with the condos which are being built. He states that because consumers are buying so things should matter. The reason why we have all this repeating boring crap is because of attitudes like this. He doesn't understand that these condos represent city building. We are building our city, we should have more pride in our city. The people in other cities are concerned about design and building up their city and make sure that their city reflects that. We need the leaders of the city recognizing this and working with the builders and architectures to improve the current dire situation.
If you bought a condo in a different city knowing you'd double your money in 5-10 years, would you care what the condo looked like? Would you care about how it meets the street? How it adds to the neighbourhood? You wouldn't give a shit. That to me repreents Toronto's condo building. While I think we are just genearlly boring and our firms are on the melba toast side, there is no demand for high end design. 0. What buyers want is the cheapest price out there which is why you're seeing developers cramming 2 bedrooms into 600sqft. Condos are mostly being built for investors who don't care what the building looks like. As long as the $s work.
 

DSC

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The presenter represents whats wrong with the condos which are being built. He states that because consumers are buying so things should matter. The reason why we have all this repeating boring crap is because of attitudes like this. He doesn't understand that these condos represent city building. We are building our city, we should have more pride in our city. The people in other cities are concerned about design and building up their city and make sure that their city reflects that. We need the leaders of the city recognizing this and working with the builders and architectures to improve the current dire situation.
Though one can certainly argue that the City could do more, at the end of the day the City cannot really decide that what is built is built to high standards; they are constrained by the Planning Act and things like Building Codes. At the end of the day the developers build crappy buildings because people actually buy them. If buyers were more discriminating then we would see better design, better finishes and better buildings. (I should also say that I do not think Toronto is unique in seeing crap being built, it is unfortunately almost universal.)
 

TheKingEast

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Though one can certainly argue that the City could do more, at the end of the day the City cannot really decide that what is built is built to high standards; they are constrained by the Planning Act and things like Building Codes. At the end of the day the developers build crappy buildings because people actually buy them. If buyers were more discriminating then we would see better design, better finishes and better buildings. (I should also say that I do not think Toronto is unique in seeing crap being built, it is unfortunately almost universal.)
Precisely. The building code though is crap and that's where the city sucks. Builders are putting up trash. Literally. And I doubt half of these buildings even meet the low building standards anyways. Snooping around buildings under construction will really open your eyes.
 

stanko

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I think the problem Toronto has is that so much density has been brought only to the downtown core so that the people outside of it could still live in tract housing. I don't take too much issue with what "face" the hordes of condos have given Toronto (and while I do think a lot of them are very bland and that the two gentlemen in the video are right to criticize what's been built, I think there are at least some that look nice) as much as I take issue with the fact that these condos have not created a vibrant city life. The reason why I say that is because the people living in a box 200m above ground are more likely to be less interested in heading on down to the street. They're probably running all errands in one go so they don't have to go up and down the elevator

My philosophy is what I call "medium-rise sprawl." Yes, sprawl is a dirty word but it already beats what we have in Toronto which are cul-de-sacs and McMansions not far from the downtown core. You see this type of urbanism in Paris, Barcelona and Vienna which are all very high dense cities with vibrant street lives that were done without clusters of 30 floor highrises. Hell, even King Street in Toronto embodies this between Niagara St. and Parliament St. (excluding the part of it in the Financial District, ofc)
 

Bogtrotter

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Generally agree with the sentiments. I do think that people care about architecture, but Toronto is a hot market for reasons beyond appearances and people just buy into what is current or soon to be available. I wouldn't say most are ugly but just incredibly uninteresting.

I really like the King West mid-rise corridor as well, probably my favorite area downtown. I think Montreal has more of this, McGill street dividing old MTL from Cite Multi-media is a good example. I hope Montreal keeps things relatively mid-rise, most of the condo projects seem to be outside of the Bell Centre area. I think the generic point tower is going to continue in Toronto unfortunately, and most are so remarkably bland that I tend to look just at the podium design or how it meets the street. I wish developers in the very least would include some materials here beyond just glass panels and precast. As mentioned in the interview, there is a such a wealth of materials available in this country yet cheap glass is being imported from abroad..?
 

condovo

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What's the incentive for developers to do things differently, i.e. to use more interesting, more diverse materials? None. Unless new materials emerge that are *cheaper* to build with but I don't think that's what the authors have in mind. Developers will keep on keeping on with the same formula and/or they'll race to the bottom because that's what's profitable. The general public is basically illiterate about architecture as is the political class so there's no real pressure on developers for architectural excellence. And I doubt a legislative structure incentivizing good design will ever emerge here. This isn't Holland, unfortunately.
 
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Adjei

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The only way I can see anything changing is if the international media preferably American media were to focus on it. That would get the attention of the politicians and regular folks. I doubt if that will happen though.
 

Bogtrotter

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One thing I have noticed is that there have been some better looking projects in recent years; some have incorporated heritage structures and have turned out quite well imo- at least in terms of how they meet the street. There are a few projects in the Yorkville area that are very promising as well, only tasteful but also attractive. One quick fix for the more cookie-cutter point towers would be to incorporate different colour schemes. The Selby for instance, while uninteresting in form, will be refreshing by the mere fact that it is a different colour. I think once Ghery gets going some of us will feel better about design, these enormous buildings will be transformative in terms of the skyline- real postcard stuff that will help redefine the image of the city.
 
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M.R.Victor

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Am I the only one who noticed a slight sense of frustration on the part of Steve Paikin? He kept attempting to have either author zero in on a specific solution, or even a commendable example of what they are actually talking about, not just general comments about blandness or sameness of whatever...

I feel that neither author was capable of making anything beyond a "well it's better in Europe" sort of statement
 

Bogtrotter

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Perhaps, but I'm not sure what he was expecting to hear either. They did mention the use of different materials, different shapes and different colours- in other words more variety. They did cite Absolute as a good example of what they would like to see more of, in other words inventiveness, and did provide examples of how the base of new condos could be made more interesting. All of which I agree with. What of course they didn't pin down was a solution to promoting better design, basically just generalizing about the system itself- blaming builders, consumers and legislators. From my end I think incentive needs to come from the latter.
 

Adjei

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Yeah the politicians who can actually enact change here don't care about design or are clueless. Does John Tory look like someone who cares about design? Look how much fuss was was made about the park down by the lake and the cost of the umbrellas? I can see a politician rallying against good design because the developers will argue that good design will lead to an increase in cost for housing. With the way prices are increasing in housing, I don't see any political getting behind anything which will lease to a cost in housing.
 

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