"Urban centres are often very static and rigid forms," renowned architect Douglas Cardinal explains, characterizing many of the high-rise clusters that dominate North American downtowns—including Toronto's—as out of touch with the living, natural world. By contrast, the iconoclastic Cardinal's design for a 39-storey residential tower at 100 Davenport Road receives its inspiration from the natural world, with Diamante Development's building designed to "open up like a flower to the sun."

A rendering of the tower, looking north, image courtesy of Diamante Development

Details of the project were released on the City of Toronto's website earlier today, giving us our first look at the renderings and architectural plans. 100 Davenport would join a neighbourhood that has seen rapid high-rise growth over the last decade, with recently announced projects like the Foster + Partners-designed Scollard Street tower for BRL Realty, and Mizrahi's AUDAX-designed 128 Hazeltonalso introduced earlier today—further propelling the intense pace of development in the city's tony Yorkville neighbourhood.

A look at the area's height context, image courtesy of Diamante Development

Amidst the area's rapid and architecturally diverse growth, Cardinal's tower—a design which also features input from Scott Shields Architects as Architects of Record as well as landscape planning by Ferris + Associates—would bring a distinct and conspicuously different presence to the area. The project's site is currently occupied by a single storey sales centre for the adjacent Florian condo, also by Diamante Development. 

The site as it appears now (looking west), image retrieved from Google Maps

100 Davenport's gently sculptural form would stand as a counterpoint to the largely rectilinear—and arguably more aggressive—of the surrounding built form. Cardinal explains that inspiration for the undulating podium came from "the patterns of seashells," while the tower's upward kinetic energy—expressed through gently undulating balconies—is meant to make the building seem "alive and growing."

A closer look at the podium, image courtesy of Diamante Development

For Cardinal—who is himself of Métis, Kainai, Blackfoot, and Algonquin heritage—the history of the site is also an important reference point. A unique presence in Toronto's street grid, most of Davenport Road follows the old shoreline of Lake Iroquois, which was later a long First Nations trail, known in the Ojibwa language as 'Gete-Onigaming' and meaning 'the old portage.' Just as the curving and meandering road forms a unique presence in the modern street grid, the tower aims to bring the same uninhibited, organic quality to the rectilinear skyline.

A view of the tower from the north, image courtesy of Diamante Development

While the project's strong design principles are grounded in a concept of "organic architecture" liberated from rigid modern conventions, the tower's 53 suites will only be available to quite wealthy purchasers. In fact, the fourth floor and the tower's 18 highest floors (22-39) each feature only a single enormous 4,319 ft² suite, complete with a room with ensuite bathroom for a full-time or live-in staff person (seen below). Indeed, among the many conceptual appeals of Cardinal's naturalistic design aesthetic is the fact that it now seems to form an attractive selling point for ultra-luxury condos.

The floorplan for levels 22-39, image courtesy of Diamante Development

From the fifth to the 21st floor, the tower features two suites on each level, all 34 of which are slightly over 2,000 ft² in size. Meanwhile, the second and third floors will house a commercial space and residential amenities respectively, while the ground level will feature a nearly 3,000 ft² retail space along Davenport. 

Looking up the length of the tower, image courtesy of Diamante Development

The proposal also includes 100 residential parking spaces, 65 bicycle parking spaces, and 14 visitor parking spaces. The City will now review the project's Zoning By-Law Amendment Application documents, prepared in part by Bousfields, with more information about the project and public engagement expected in 2016. For Cardinal, known for designing ground-hugging museums and public spaces, the development presents the architect's first foray into high-rise residential projects.

We will keep you updated as more information regarding the project continues to emerge. In the meantime, check out our dataBase file, linked below, for more information and the latest up-to-date renderings. Want to share your thoughts on the design so far? Join in the discussion in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

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