Now that Canderel's Aura at College Park is completed, residents have moved in and an eye-catching night lighting system has illuminated the top of Canada's tallest condominium. When UrbanToronto last toured the building, it was still very much an active construction site. The penthouse levels were not yet covered with glass, and the steel skeleton which would become the building's crown was just coming together. Now, a year and a half later, we returned to explore the top levels of Aura on Wednesday.
On the 79th floor—technically the 78th due to the skipping of 13—rough concrete walls, ceilings, and floors have been finished with wallpaper accents, tiling and wide plank flooring. Canderel had originally considered dedicating the entire floor to one penthouse suite, but settled on separating it into four penthouses, one of which has sold. We toured remaining suites 7902, 7907 and 7910 which range in price from $2.4 million to $3.7 million.
Representatives from Canderel were in attendance to host tours and answer questions, including Riz Dhanji, VP of Sales and Marketing and Julie Robinson, Director of Project Management and Construction. They were joined by Berardo Graziani, one of the founding partners of Graziani + Corazza Architects.
Graziani spoke about how Aura's design has influenced the company's other work, including YC Condos a short walk to the north. "When we went through our design review process for Aura, the City pushed us into a review with five esteemed architects across Canada and the United States because they were concerned about the tower," explained Graziani. "When we went through the process, what came out of it was that the tower was okay, but it needed work on the public realm. So I think we learned a lot through that design review process about developing the public realm, including what works and doesn't work—the scale, the sidewalks, the materiality of the building, the lighting—all of those pieces fitting together."
Graziani also touched on the building's popular lighting feature. "When we were going through the design review process about nine years ago, they asked us whether we had thought about lighting the top of the building. So we came up with this idea of the strips of light, vertically at different lengths, that would recall the form of the tower at night that you see by day. With the evolution of lighting fixtures, it ended up being LEDs. There's over 1.2 kilometres of lighting up there." He explained that the lights are embedded within the structure to avoid any potential disturbance to residents.
Julie Robinson spoke about the construction challenges Aura faced, including having to dig a 20-metre hole while maintaining an existing ramp serving the existing developments on the block. A post-tensioned eight-foot deep transfer slab at the fifth floor helped support the tower above. The building took four and a half years to construct, with an additional year dedicated to interior finishes. "We accomplished a lot of firsts on this project, not because we wanted to but because we had to," said Graziani. "But it's been a nice ten-year journey and it's nice to see it get recognition."
Suites 7910 and 7907 have both been fully furnished by Canderel's in-house design team led by Kathy Chow. The units are decorated with art pieces and sculptures strategically set to frame the space within the grand 12.5-foot-high rooms.
Ceiling heights such as these permit massive windows to maximize views and light. Each of the three penthouse suites feature two bedrooms and a den/library.
At 3,055 square feet, suite 7910 is the largest of those available. The kitchen includes a marble countertop and backsplash with limestone featured heavily throughout the bathroom.
The sky-high home sits at the southwest corner of the building, offering up the highest possible residential views of Toronto's Financial District and beyond.
Though the weather was poor, with Aura piercing through the periodic cloud, the ceremonies surrounding Remembrance Day were still visible. The bright yellow of four Second World War Harvard planes flying over the Old City Hall cenotaph stood out against the grey backdrop.
The second furnished suite, 7907, sizes in at 2,961 square feet.
The rooms in this space offer up views to the south and east. Miele, Sub-Zero and Wolf kitchen appliances and Kohler bathroom fixtures are featured in each penthouse.
Although suite 7902 is the smallest of the three at 2,201 square feet, it currently awaits furnishings and customization, giving a true sense of the floor plate size.
The growing cluster of buildings surrounding Yonge and Bloor is clearly visible from this east and north-facing suite. Great Gulf's One Bloor East disappears in the fog while the architectsAlliance-designed Karma Condos climbs skywards at the bottom of the image.
The roof of the former hockey temple Maple Leaf Gardens, now Ryerson's Mattamy Athletics Centre, is visible in the foreground with the apartments of St. James Town in the distance. Most of the Don Valley is obscured by the low cloud ceiling.
The penthouses and the other 990 condominium units in the building are served by several amenities, including a fifth floor outdoor terrace plus multiple party rooms and a theatre room. A podium houses 180,000 square feet of retail space, including the 42,000 square-foot Hard Candy Fitness facility by Madonna which all residents are free to use, while major brands Bed, Bath and Beyond and Marshalls are below. Several restaurants, banks, and convenience retailers fill out the building's offerings.
Unit 7910 will now serve as the model suite for potential purchasers to tour. Aura represents a significant new addition to Toronto's growing skyline, signifying that residential construction is reaching new heights in an age where people are flocking to rather than fleeing from Downtown.
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