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Luxury condo–hotel marries five-star comfort with engineering achievements
Excerpt from an article by Stephen Weir – Toronto Star
Richard Tucker, now a well-known Toronto architect and master of construction, has indeed been looking up. Since graduating from MIT in architecture and the London School of Business, he has joined the very exclusive club of professionals who build big and tall buildings.
Now, Tucker is the director of construction for Graywood Developments Ltd., the company that broke ground Nov. 30 for the Ritz Carlton and The Residences At the Ritz-Carlton.
Located next to the CBC headquarters on Wellington St. (near Roy Thomson Hall), the project will include a five-star hotel and high-priced condo suites in an all-glass, 53-storey tribute to unbridled luxury.
“It is time that Toronto had this,” says Tucker. “There are a few nice hotels in the city, but, no true five-star establishments. The Ritz-Carlton will be that and more. And, of course, that holds true for the 35 floors of private lounges, meeting rooms and condominiums that are on top of the hotel.
Condo owners won’t have to walk through the hotel lobby, no matter how exclusive it is. Instead, they have their own side entrance, 24-hour concierge and two private elevators to carry them to the 21st floor and a bank of condo–only elevators.
The Upstairs Downstairs approach to service will affect how the building is constructed. The site is very small â€” only about a half-hectare. At the same time, the style of the hotel and condominium requires that more space be dedicated to keeping guests, owners and staff at arm’s length.
Private entrances, quiet elevators, out-of-sight service lifts and redundant power sources (to ensure the building is never without electricity) cost more and take up space. But since even the smallest condo will cost more than $1 million, the added costs won’t be a problem for the developer.
The Ritz has also worked out an arrangement with the Royal Bank, which is right next door. The two buildings will share a common loading dock and freight entrance on the bank property.
Tucker will be overseeing construction of the 153 luxury condo suites, each with a minimum of 36 metres of floor-to-ceiling glass â€” a curtain-maker’s dream come true.
Wind tunnel modelling was used to ensure the 53 storeys of glass can withstand the high winds that often buffet the downtown core. A second environmental concern was also addressed: how to protect pedestrians on Wellington from falling icicles.
The suites will be overbuilt as befits the Ritz. Redundant power generators mean the tower will stay cool, water pumps will function and the elevators will work even during blackouts. The building will be cooled with Enwave â€” a system that uses Lake Ontario water as a giant heat exchange unit.”If a person can afford a suite in the Ritz, they can afford a place in France, an apartment in New York or Hong Kong and a winter retreat in Palm Beach,” says Tucker.