It's the holidays, and time for a look back at a very interesting year for UrbanToronto... as well as one for urban Toronto. Many buildings of note were announced this year, or went into construction, or were completed. So much happened in fact, that we cannot get it all into one article; it will take several. Over the next week we will look back day by day at the changes in Toronto that are worth commemorating, as we saw them. Today we will start will the 2010 birth announcements that made us take notice: those buildings that had been quietly gestating at architects, planners, and developers offices, and which were helped into the light of day by marketing and public relations firms over the last 51 weeks. Here is our list of notable arrivals, in order of delivery:
Febraury 15 - March 25: One Bloor (Great Gulf, 70s, Hariri Pontarini) No building was more anticipated in 2010 than One Bloor, Great Gulf's relaunch of the failed 1 Bloor East project by Bazis. That previous project had its proponents (for its 80-storey height) and its detractors (for its underwhelming architecture), but it was a connection to the failed bank Lehman Brothers that brought that project down in 2009. David Pontarini headed up the redesign for Great Gulf, and an initial rendering in February led to a full rollout in March that dropped the height (initially to 65 storeys) but upped the design. The building still divides critics, but everyone was relieved that a swooping standout promised to replace an empty lot in one of Toronto's most significant locations.
March 24: Queen Richmond Centre West (Allied REIT, 17s, &Co) This project was launched before 2010, and we knew much about its composition - new tower above and beside revitalized historic Entertainment District office/warehouse - but it was not until March 24 that we saw the stunning interior renderings that have us hoping that if any new office building goes ahead in Toronto, that is will be this beauty. A QuicktimeVR image at the project's website provides the best evidence of the previous claims, but a few images here hint at why we love this building.
April 21: 12 Degrees (BSÄR / Prince Bay, 11s, Core Architects) The process took quite a while here, so we had already seen some renderings in 2009, but in April of 2010 marketing was finally underway for this head-and-floor-turning mid rise project just north of Queen Street on Beverley. The Core Architects design of stacked boxes places three of the floors 12 Degrees off from the rest of the building. Controversy arose when it was announced that Frank Gehry's childhood home would have to be torn down for this project, but Gehry blunted the criticism early on by declaring that he certainly didn't care. Gerhy also declared that neither did he care for the design of the new building, but then softened that stance later by clarifying that he had not been shown the final design.
March-Apri-May: Five (Mod Developments, 45s, Hariri Pontarini & E.R.A.) News of this development's arrival leaked out for months ahead of the premier rendering release on May 11, and UrbanToronto members were thrilled by the attention paid to the historic components of the project, and quite happy with the sleek, modern tower above with its undulating balconies. As marriages of historic and modern go, this development promises to set a standard that future projects of this nature will be held to.
May 21: One Rainsford (Reidel Group, 6s, Richard Ziegler Architect) It's small compared to most of the buildings we are featuring today, but this Queen Street East development is exactly the kind of building that we hope to see lining Toronto's avenues as they are redeveloped over the coming years. This simple, clean, appealing design by Richard Ziegler meets the street well, has attractive and large windows, and a stepped massing that allows for generous terraces in spots. More please!
July 28: Southcore Financial Centre, Bremner Tower and Delta Hotel (bcIMC & GWL, 30 & 47s, KPMB & Page + Steele / IBI) Despite months of rumours about planning applications and a new Fairmont Hotel on the Railway Lands' Block 7B, it still seemed to come out of nowhere when both a new office tower and Delta Hotel were announced in late July for the site. Despite the overall lack of enthusiasm for the office tower's lacklustre design in particular, the astonishment that yet more Class A office space would soon be materializing in Toronto's core created a flurry of activity at UrbanToronto. The announcement alerted us to fact that the recent completion of 3 large new office towers had not quenched the city's thirst for space to work.
August 13: Bisha Hotel & Residences (Lifetime, 41s, Wallman) Promised by a teaser campaign that lasted for months, Bisha was finally unveiled at a swank party in mid-August at its Blue Jays Way site south of King Street. A collaboration between Lifetime Developments and Toronto clubland king Charles Khabouth, the building's slightly-more-than-minimalist modernist exterior was realized by Rudy Wallman, while the opulent interior was brought to life by longtime Khabouth collaborator Alessandro Munge of Munge Leung. While Bisha promises to be handsome on the skyline, its interior's exuberant luxury seems unmatched by other projects underway in the city at this time. Bisha's 41st-floor infinity edge pool also promises to be a memorable addition to the city's party scene.
August 19: Bayside (Hines Canada, multiple midrise buildings, Pelli Clark Pelli et al) Some decried a selection process that was opaque to the public, but Waterfront Toronto's announcement that Hines Canada and their design team headed by starchitect Cesar Pelli of Pelli Clark Pelli had won the right to develop Bayside, a 4 hectare site on the Toronto Harbour between Lower Sherbourne and Lower Parliament Streets, was likely the biggest game-changer of the year. The large, prominent site will likely take a decade to build-out, and individual building designs are only massing concepts for the moment, but the lively renderings of a fun new neighbourhood had us all contemplating relocating to our reclaimed water's edge.
September 23: Studio on Richmond (Aspen Ridge Homes, 31 +41s, Quadrangle) Just over a month before all of the detail renderings arrived in late September, Aspen Ridge unleashed the most dramatic teaser rendering of the year for Studio, sparking pages of amused and bemused commentary in UrbanToronto, including a pair of laser-eyed cat skyscrapers doing battle. (Seriously - search for it.) By the time late September rolled around, the more typical views of the project came parcelled with atypical news: Studio would contain a street front art gallery for student work from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. We like the unique skyline presence of this complex, we really like the street wall and the colourful accents, and we love the boost for OCADU.
October 4: The Yorkville Condominiums (Lifetime, 31s, Wallman) Even though we had seen line drawings that hinted this building's design way back in 2008, the colourful rendering of this tower on Davenport west of Yonge caught every eye when it debuted on UrbanToronto, with near unanimous acclaim from our disparate membership: everyone seemed to agree that Rudy Wallman's copper coloured fins and black-and-gold accents were just the kind of building we wanted to see rising in our town.
October 5: Tableau (Urban Capital, 36s, Wallman) A mere day after our first glimpse of Yorkville Condominiums, another Rudy Wallman-designed building was announced. Tableau, at Richmond and Peter Streets, features a unique triangular four-storey colonnaded entry plaza, covered by a thick transfer slab-cum-sheltering canopy, above which rises a 32-storey modernist tower, minimally decorated with playful staggered balcony framing. A monumental public artwork by Shayne Dark pierces the canopy at the wide (east) end of the plaza.
October 23: Motif Lofts & Towns (Reserve Properties, 5s, RAW Design) A small infill project on trendy Ossington Avenue, Motif is simply a sensitive modern design of the type that we would like to see repeated across Toronto in coming years. Word is that it sold out in a flash. 'Nuff said.
November 14: Pinewood Studios Neighbourhood (Castlepoint, 1000 Condos plus retail, hotels) Another big announcement out of nowhere came from Pinewood Studios and Castlepoint Realty Partners: Pinewood intends to offset the cost of building city street sets for such places as New York, London, and Chicago, by building real homes behnd the themed facades. Anyone moving into the area will sign covenants stating that they agree to temporary closures of their private streets for the purpose of filming. The development, sited across the Shipping Channel from the Hearn Generating Station, won't be everyone's cup of tea, but we are very curious to see how it will come together.
November 19: Theatre Park (Lamb Dev Co/Niche, 47s, aA) On a 62-foor wide parking lot beside the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Brad Lamb unleashed a stunning modernist tower marked with diagonal banding, as designed by Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance. Not everyone is convinced that this strip of low rise historic offices, warehouses, and of course the Royal Alex, is the best place for a 47-storey point tower, but historic designation was soon put in place on much of the rest of the block to help preserve the historic character in the surroundings. Pretty much everyone agrees that Theatre Park will be amongst the most recognizable upcoming landmarks on the downtown skyline.
That's all for now: we have much more celebrating to come over the next week. Happy Holidays!