Beyond Toronto's rapidly densifying Downtown core of assertively tall skyscrapers and iconic high-rises, the surrounding urban landscape is gradually becoming peppered with mid-rise construction, bringing substantial yet measured density to many of Toronto's diverse, urban neighborhoods. While these buildings—now popping up along the city's major arterial roads—may not garner the attention of their taller Downtown counterparts, they can be more essential to the quotidian health and vibrancy of the urban environment than their more noticeable (and more noticed) high-rise counterparts.

In this regard, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves what makes a contemporary Toronto building successful? Does it need to be eye-catching, with a bold and aggressive design? Does it need to be extremely tall, or at least noticeably different from the architectural landscape around it? In a city still working to outgrow an international reputation built on "looking like New York," our thirst for new architectural icons is understandable. We want Toronto to be Toronto. Yet, amidst the enthusiasm for assertive new architecture, the aesthetic and socio-cultural value of urban "fabric buildings" is often overlooked.

DUKE Condos sits at the corner of Dundas and Indian Grove, image courtesy of TAS

A new building does not need to be tall or particularly striking in order to important. In fact, many of Toronto's successful buildings are not 'great' because they stand out or demand attention, but because they fit into the neighborhood around them, bringing new vitality and culture while remaining cohesive to their surroundings and sensitively fitting in to the street wall. A building like TAS' DUKE Condos, for example, can be successful not only for its architecturally striking design, but for the socio-culturally and environmentally sensitive way in which it brings a cohesive new aesthetic to its surroundings.

DUKE's east side, image courtesy of TAS

Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the 7-storey building currently under construction on 'DU'ndas near 'KE'ele brings new density to the Junction while preserving (and growing) the character of the neighborhood. Featuring an environmentally friendly design that seeks to minimize energy-inefficient glazing (and window wall design) in lieu of brick, the building's south side (seen above, at left) will also include planters that can serve as personal gardens, bringing a locally-oriented and sustainable element to the project. Meanwhile, DUKE's ground level "live-work" units will provide local artists with affordable opportunities to engage the community, bringing vibrancy to the streetscape while providing an outlet for local artistic expression.

A view from the west side of the cosntruction site, image courtesy of UrbanToronto Forum Contributor Froggy

Since our last update in October, when the project officially broke ground, the shoring and excavation phase has transformed the building's footprint, with a large pit where the clearing once stood. As well, the crane can now be seen standing over the site, as the foundations for the new condominium are being laid.

A closer view of construction, image courtesy of UrbanToronto Forum contributor Froggy

The project, which was nominated for 12 BILD awards in 2014, is set to incorporate interior design elements by Mason Studio as construction continues. For more information and images on DUKE Condos, visit the dataBase file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment in the field provided.

Related Companies:  BDP Quadrangle, Ontario Panelization, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc.