New projects pay little respect to past
Christopher Hume – Toronto Star
Suddenly it seems everyone wants to live downtown.
In the 21st century, that’s not hard to understand. And so far, accommodating them all has not been a problem; the city is full of unused and underused sites.
Let’s not forget, there is still any number of parking lots just waiting for redevelopment. Many of these are located in the inner core, in neighbourhoods that until recently were largely industrial. Richmond Street west of Spadina is a good example; for decades, few Torontonians were interested in areas such as this, which were seen mostly as places to live rather than work.
Not now. These days, few precincts are more attractive to condo builders. It’s not hard to understand why. Well served by public transit, close to various urban amenities and eminently walkable, they are newly desirable.
The trick for planners and architects is to learn how to fit the new in with the old. For the most part, the recent stuff makes little effort to pay homage to the past, which means the two have a sometimes uneasy relationship.
Still, as far as the city’s health is concerned, these are positive developments.
This project, which faces onto Morrison as well as Adelaide, is a model of urban residential infill.
Modest, almost self-effacing, it is surrounded by low-rise redbrick buildings that have been around for years without attracting much attention. To the west, for example, there’s a two-door garage building that fails to excite. The new condo basically ignores these neighbours, and looms over them like some architectural creature from another age, which is exactly what it is. Then, Toronto was a brick city; today it’s all steel and glass and tall.
Though the building stands only eight storeys high, in this context that seems tall.
On this side, the condo itself is oriented north to Adelaide. The front consists of a series of glass balconies on the east half, a large glazed facade to the west. It’s not wildly exciting, but acceptable.
The most interesting part of the scheme is a small open space at ground level that is home to a tiny garden. Because it’s hidden behind a fence and barely visible from the street, it is a feature that brings little to the neighbourhood. But for those who take the time to stop and look, it’s a nice touch.
On Morrison St., the condo presents a much more substantial and domestic image. This is the main entrance and the underground parking garage. There’s also a row of front yards, not large but happily residential. Above are the glass and precast concrete balconies. It may not be entirely pretty, but this is a city and prettiness isn’t always appropriate.
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