On the southern shore of Lake Ontario across from Toronto, the town of Grimsby is getting its first major high-rise complex with Waterview Condominiums. Located beside the busy QEW but within sight of the lake's serene shoreline and the views it provides across the water to GTA skylines, the complex from LJM Developments faced some unique site-specific challenges that begged to be creatively addressed at the design stage. LJM engaged ICON Architects of Toronto to get the best out of the site.

Hoordad Ghandehari, who co-founded ICON with Reza Eslami in 2008, expanded upon Waterview's challenging location with its surrounding land uses. “We always take our cues from the site conditions and explore the opportunities that the site's shape and location provides us,” said Ghandehari.

Waterview's site: lake to the north, expressway to the south, image courtesy of LJM Developments

With 261 suites in an over 300,000 ft² complex of two buildings of 9 and 15 storeys, Waterview was designed to both maximize lake views and minimize the highway for its residents. This was done by orienting all the units to face north towards Lake Ontario.

The lake-facing side of Waterview Condominiums with balconies and terraces, image courtesy of LJM Developments

“What we had in mind getting into this project was to design a building that would back onto the highway and front onto the lake, hence, [we explored] single loaded corridors and units that face only one direction," Ghandehari told us. “Once this was established, the challenge was how to articulate a façade facing the highway that is predominantly corridors.”

ICON saw the single-loaded corridor design facing a highway as an opportunity to take a more unconventional approach to the south facade, unencumbered by the restrictions of residential frontages. Ghandehari states that this gave ICON the feeling “like we had a free hand in the design of this face of the building as we were no longer bound by providing the type of openings and balconies that residential uses normally require.” 

Waterview as seen in August, 2019, image by UT Forum contributor G.L.17

The resulting south facade features a range of material choices that act as sound dampeners to minimize the impact of the QEW’s traffic noise, while also creating an interesting geometric pattern that provides visual interest to passing motorists. Ghandehari underlines the importance of creating a visual landmark on the site, stating that “Grimsby, did not have a landmark building along the highway. Putting all that together, we came up with the multi-coloured frames and random small windows with touches of colour to create a façade that would resemble a modernist painting, while allowing light into the corridors, and functioning as a landmark building for the city.“

Waterview Condominiums, image courtesy of LJM Developments

The project also took a forward-thinking approach regarding land use, incorporating ground-floor retail along a stretch of the QEW’s North Service Road that lacked any real street presence. These commercial units could set the standard for future developments nearby, the first contributor in what could eventually become a stretch of retail convenient to residents of this and neighbouring developments.

To the rear of the retail component for the complex’s completed first phase, ground-floor parking spaces are hidden away from view beneath the shelter of an amenity terrace, with spaces located in close proximity to retail as a means to foster walkability around the site in an area dominated by vehicle traffic.

A terrace provides elevated space to give residents a view, while sheltering parking below, image courtesy of LJM Developments

Additional designs by ICON Architects can be explored by clicking on the ICON link in the box for our Waterview Database file, below. Want to get involved in the discussion about Waterview or ICON? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Icon Architects, McIntosh Perry, Ryan Design International