As we have already seen in recent 2010 reviews, it was a big year for both newly announced buildings, as well as for pretty incredible construction. It was also quite a good year for completed buildings - many of them - and we are going to quickly run through a number of our favourites...
Photos and Text by Craig White except where noted.
... and we are going to start not with actual buildings, but some other important additions to Toronto. Our favourite new park: that's any easy one. Sugar Beach, Claude Cormier's wonderful addition to our waterfront, gives strong hints that Waterfront Toronto's overall makeover of our harbour's edge will yield an area of immense civic pride for our city for years to come.
Our favourite addition to Toronto's list of family attractions? Well, there wasn't a huge list to choose from here, but the Toronto Railway Heritage Centre rates a mention for the truly impressive amount of work done by a volunteer community of enthusiasts, the Toronto Railway Historical Association, who brought heritage locomotives, train cars, stations, switching houses, and a roundhouse with it's turning table back to life. A new miniature railway running through the site is a huge hit with the families who visit.
Our favourite small scale project this year was the JDT Group infill building at 3077 Dundas West, where real attention was paid to scale, materials, and clean lines that still evoke the feel of the surrounding neighbourhood.
In a completely modern idiom, another small scale favourite is Richmond Town Manors, developed by Rosant and designed by Core Architects, amongst the most beautiful townhouses ever built in this city.
While 1717 Avenue Rd does not conform to our idea of what constitutes good architecture, we like it for its adherence to the Avenues planning principles as set out by the city for remaking our arterial roads. The project also silences the NIMBY fears of overwhelming the neighbourhood which greeted it in its planning stage.
Roncesvalles Lofts, developed by Triumph and designed by David Peterson Architect, is a similar size, but a world apart design-wise. The bold midrise infill project faces some unattractive adjacent uses, and allows residents to pretty much ignore them.
Seventy5 Portland, developed by Freed, was another midrise project that looked great in renderings, but owing to sloppy concrete patterning, was pretty disappointing when the forms came down. We mention the Core Architects-designed building though as the best save by a paint job. Here's hoping the condo board does not allow the surface treatment to degrade over the years.
Around the corner from 75 Portland is Freed's Thompson Hotel and 550 Wellington West condos, designed by architectsAlliance. This beautiful modernist midrise is just what we would like to see in areas where highrise is not appropriate.
Bigger than a highrise, but not exactly a skyscraper, 83 Redpath, developed by the Benvenuto Group and designed by &Co, impressed us for being the most handsomely proportioned and the most fun of all the condos built in recent years in the Yonge-Eglinton area.
500 Sherbourne, developed by the Times Group and designed by Northgrave Architect, our first highrise in this list, isn't a total stunner, but was a very pleasant surprise as a good-looking building that we had not initially expected much from.
As pleasant surprises go, we did not expect to find a beautiful new condo tower in Brampton, but there it is: Park Place. Developed by Inzola and designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, we give three cheers for being the most beautiful tower completed outside of Toronto proper within the GTA in the last year.
Arriving back downtown, we turn our focus to new office towers. While we like the Bay Adelaide Centre's street presence very much, the Brookfield-developed building rarely rewards anyone from looking at its upper reaches. While it occasionally produces lovely reflections, in most lighting conditions and from most angles the WZMH Architects-designed building adds almost nothing to the city's skyline.
Telus House, developed by Menkes and designed by &Co, fares much better. While we might have liked to see the tower's fins extend above the roofline on all sides, where they, are they work very well. The black box just above street level is also a memorably simple but bold move in a city that tends to be very conservative where recent office construction is concerned.
The RBC Centre, developed by Cadillac Fairview and designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, similarly uses simple moves, like angled walls, particularly clear glass, and the nighttime illumination of its lantern to create a memorable building.
Maple Leaf Square, developed by Lanterra and Cadillac Fairview, is the largest multi-use complex built in Toronto in years. While the diagonal lines which mark some facades of the condo towers are underwhelming in the extreme, we like the centre's massing and its legible facade: each component of the building can be understood by its cladding. Inside, the Le Germain Hotel is a hit, as is the Real Sport Grill, and the Longos supermarket. Each are amongst the most impressive of their class in the city.
Amongst the towers of Concord CityPlace, Luna stands out. Designed by Deni Poletti, Partner at Core Architects, with KPMB Architects as architect of record, Luna looks great particularly at night with its pink-lit skyline panels, our favourite project at so far CityPlace.
Concord CityPlace's Panorama, meanwhile, stands out as the coolest building that nobody every imagines would be built. The tight triangular spot beside the Gardiner Expressway did not look conducive to create an impressive condo, but the architecture here makes the best of the site, while the public art component below the expressway turned an ugly space into a funky one. Quadrangle Architects and Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects are responsible for the design, while Pierre Poussin created the funky public realm.
Since we are singling out CityPlace and developer Concord Adex, we might as well single out another developer. Tridel, one of the city's most prolific, completed a complex this year which we count as its obvious best-to-date. Republic, at Yonge & Eglinton, marks the first architecturally notable development for the company, where a scooped roofline adds drama, and spandrel panels actually look good. Designed by Burka Architects, the building is particularly notable for High School built into its base. Students, residents, and the cityscape all win here.
Two condos on one street have turned a faded stretch of uptown into a looker. Casa and X are two of the best new towers in Toronto in years. Casa shimmers with its wrap-around glass balconies, while X provides clean drama with its black i-bar exterior. Sure we're not crazy about X's weak top, but the building's Mondrian dashes on its Miesian bones is strong enough to make us forgive small problems. Both buildings were designed by modernist powerhouse architectsAlliance, while Casa was developed by Cresford and X was developed by Great Gulf Homes.
155 Cumberland, developed by King Street Capital and designed by Quadrangle Architects, is a serious looker up top meanwhile - this jumble of protruding boxes and generous balconies turns any onlooker into a dreamer. If only we lived up there...
Finally, while the Festival Tower by Daniels is still not open to residents and therefore the whole complex is not technically complete, we think the TIFF Bell Lightbox was the most important overall addition to city unveiled in 2010. Designed by KPMB Architects, the tower is simple, but striking with its fritted balcony glazing. The podium sheer size makes a huge statement on King Street, but is articulated and nimble enough to not overpower the Victorians across from it. The interior atrium raises spirits and has turned a night going to see a movie into a cultural event. Canteen, the restaurant at the complex's east end, is amongst the best street-level embraces in the city: it glows with warmth at night with its huge windows, while warm weather leads to open doors and a full patio.