Pharrell Williams is the kind of guy who brings the best out of others around him. That's what I learned when he came to town recently to talk about designing a condo: you could see it in the way Pharrell interacted with both those with him on the Untitled Toronto development team, and those of us with recording devices plying him with questions. He's thoughtful in his answers, not afraid to admit it when he doesn't know something, and he deals with people unflappably and warmly. When reporters were looking for snappy soundbites from him about Toronto, instead he talked about what he saw as universally applicable to people, not willing to fall for the local boosterism game.

Kelly Cray, Mansoor Kazerouni, Pharrell Williamns, Sheldon Fenton, Shane Fenton, image by Arthur Mola

The first question to Pharrell Williams about helping to design a condo in Toronto, though, should be, 'Pharrell, why do you have a hand in the design of a condo in Toronto?' That's pretty much where I started, loading the question first with a few things I've learned about someone I only knew as a recording star. Besides writing and performing music, Pharrell's also found some success as a visual artist, a fabric, furniture, and clothing designer, and that a large part of his career has been his collaborations, in all of the media where he works. Collaborators have included (in no particular order) Katy Perry, Daft Punk, Uniqlo, Snoop Dogg, Chanel, Ludacris, Adidas, Calvin Harris, G-Star Raw, Domeau & Pérès, Ariana Grande, Zaha Hadid Architects, Missy Elliott, and sculptor Takeshita Murakami—among many others. It seems he's interested in pretty much any creative output, so the list goes on and on.

With the people skills and his broad general artistic interests driving him, one can suppose that's how he's ended up on a design team for a Toronto condo: be ubiquitous enough, and maybe it was inevitable! In any case, here he is! 

So, what's being designed here, and who is Pharrell designing with?

Untitled Toronto is a three building project on the northeast corner of Broadway and Redpath avenues in Midtown Toronto by Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties. Over the last while, the joint venture developers have assembled four lots on Broadway and three on Redpath, a mixture of one house, three semi-detached houses, two low-rise apartment buildings, and one mid-rise apartment building. The Midtown area has been densifying for years, and the process of replacing low-rise homes with larger buildings has only increased here as of late with the coming of the Crosstown LRT, which will open before Untitled Toronto is complete: the site will be walking distance to both Yonge-Eglinton and Mount Pleasant stations.

Looking northeast to the rental tower at 100 Broadway, image via submission to the City of Toronto

So, the dry stuff: the site layout and the stats. At the corner of Broadway and Redpath itself will be a 746 m² park, invisibly enlarged by Privately Owned Public Space that will abutt it. To the north will be a 36-storey, 114.8 metre-tall rental tower with 412 rental units, 324 of which are replacement units for those on site currently plus units on other properties close by where the developers are also presently at work. 88 rental suites in the building will be new to the area. 200 of the 412 units will be affordable. To the east of the park will be two towers, one fronting Broadway Avenue of 33 storeys / 108 metres, and one in behind of 21 storeys / 76.9 metres. These condo towers will sprout from a podium of 8 storeys. There are 741 proposed condo suites in the podium and towers. The rental tower will have a 103 m² retail unit on its ground floor, while the eighth floor of the condo podium will include 606 m² of office space. A garage below the buildings is proposed to have 326 spaces for cars, while 1,154 spaces for bicycles will be located across the development.

Looking northwest to the Untitled condo towers at 110 Broadway, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

The not so dry stuff is how the design of the condo towers will integrate Pharrell's philosophy of what living in the complex should be like with the design ideas of Mansoor Kazerouni, lead architect and partner at IBI Group, and Kelly Cray, lead interior designer and partner at U31. First is what's seen on the building's exterior: the sawtooth balconies. Sections of the balconies all around the condo towers and podium will have sawtooth fronts, with glass of different reflectances installed for each angle. The length of the sawtooth sections will vary on each floor, and with no repeats—each elevation will be unique—with the whole of the exterior replicating the waveform of Pharrell's single Gust of Wind into the rippling effect. 

Balcony detail on the scale model of Untitled Toronto, image by Craig White

The idea to incorporate the song into the exterior was Kazerouni's. It comes from a jugalbandi, an intricate duet of two musicians in Indian classical music, transmogrified as entwined twins, inscribed on the buildings' faces, to be animated from now on by the dance of light over the course of a day. You may not be able to hear the song by looking up at the building, but you'll see it.

Entry in the building from Broadway, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

You'll see something else at animated ground level too — the first flour floors of the podium exteriors will be clad in a deep stone, as will the lobby entrance hallway — and as you proceed from the street into the building, you'll pass a long rock wall over which water is cascading.

Hall with rock wall and cascading water, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

Pharrell's going for a relaxing, zen feel here, fleshed out by Cray through luxuriously dark and textured finishes. That feel will extend into the amenity spaces that open onto green spaces that surround the building: natural elements will be the background here, not obtrusive, but creating deeply comfortable spaces into which residents can let their hair down. A ground floor lounge, for example, will not only bring in natural light and the view of greenery through extensive glazing, but will be green and beautifully oxygenated year round through a lush green wall.

The garden spills into the lounge at Untitled Toronto, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

One room over, an indoor-outdoor pool facing a waterfall and exterior green wall will allow residents to enjoy relax all year, even, daringly, in the colder months. Behind the image below, a fireplace brings the elements together here. 

The indoor/outdoor pool at Untitled Toronto, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

On the grounds at Untitled Toronto close by the outdoor pool there will also be an in-ground hot tub, while around the corner, another area will feature a channelized stream across which a number of zen-like gazebos will give residents a place to chill on their own, or with friends in small groups. Every aspect of the common areas here, inside and out, is being maximized to bring enjoyment to the people who live here and who spend their days in this big bustling city, and who will simply need time to slow down to clear their minds. And you never know, maybe the guy who's relaxing a couple chairs away may have just blown into town on a gust of wind from even more hectic places, and is in need of some down time too: Pharrell likes where Untitled Toronto is going and he's picking up his own pad here too.

Meditation spots by a channeled stream in the garden at Untitled Toronto, image by Norm Li courtesy of Reserve Properties

We'll be back to look at more aspects of Untitled Toronto in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below, where we have many more renderings of the project. If you'd like to, you can join in on the conversation in our associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Baker Real Estate Inc., IBI Group, NAK Design Strategies, Reserve Properties, U31