Tag Archives: ontario college of art and design
Designed by KPMB Architects, the Festival Tower has a rooftop pavilion with a pool and glass balcony fencing
Lauren Ferranti-Ballem, National Post
I had no problem jamming a hard hat over my curls or trading my ballet flats for steel-toed boots. Stepping into a hoist elevator — one of those rickety wood-and-metal boxes you see attached to a steel spine, rising up on the exterior of condos under construction — that was a different matter altogether.
Up I went. I held on where there was no handle, did not raise my gaze from boot level and tried my best to breathe as we made our way noisily, ungracefully and painfully slowly all the way up. The condo in question is the Festival Tower, the residential side of the building of the moment, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox. Our final destination: the 46th-floor penthouse.
On this day in mid-August, the sky was a perfect, cloudless blue and there was mercifully very little wind as we stepped out on to a south-facing balcony. There’s not much I recall, numb as I still was with fear, and my hand trembled so violently I couldn’t keep notes. But I do remember the view. It was stunning and spectacular and made the trip up (almost) worth it.
From its position at King and John streets, in an area thick with condo towers, Festival exists inside an odd, almost eerie clearing — no other building can block this southern view.
“You see that in the distance?” says Tom Dutton, senior vice-president of Daniels Corp., the project’s developer, as he gestures to what looks like a faint cloud hovering over Lake Ontario. “That’s the mist rising up from Niagara Falls.”
As at this point the four penthouses are little more than concrete and glass, there’s nothing to see but the city on all sides. To the north, Will Alsop’s Ontario College of Art and Design looks like a box of matches. And as I connect the dots — the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Film Board, the CBC, Roy Thomson Hall and theatre row — I realize how utterly well-placed this building is.
“This is where the arts intersect,” says Bruce Kuwabara, the project’s architect and founding partner of KPMB. “Maybe there’s another location for this, but I can’t think of a better one.”
Some 50 years ago, the land upon which the Lightbox and Festival Tower now stand, was purchased by post-war Czechoslavakian immigrants, parents of Canadian film director Ivan Reitman. They operated a dry-cleaning business, and then a car wash here. When TIFF was on the hunt for its new home, Mr. Reitman and his sisters donated the property in honour of their parents. The other piece of the equation was the developer John Daniels, president and founder of Daniels Corp. He was one of the first benefactors to TIFF before it was TIFF in the 1970s.
“Ivan [Reitman] calls this interconnectedness kismet,” says Mr. Kuwabara, “the way things all seem to align to create good fortune.”
This good fortune is far reaching. With 98% of Festival suites sold, residents will enjoy an exclusive three-year film fest membership, which includes such perks as private screenings and preferred pricing to more than 100 Lightbox events a year. For inspiration on the mix, Mr. Kuwabara looked to New York City, where condo towers are well-integrated with cultural destinations, like the ones built into Carnergie Hall and the Museum of Modern Art — occupants there can relish privileged access to Matisse and Pollock, away from the common folk. “This is a city of film — the festival is embraced and well attended by Torontonians,” Mr. Kuwabara says. “Residents will become a part of the story of this building.”
For a bit of distance from the hoopla, they will find their suites from the condo’s entrance on John Street (whereas the Lightbox opens on to King) where they can tune into the TIFF closed-circuit TV channel. And since streamlined Miele kitchens favour fancy over function — penthouses excluded, the only ovens are of the convection-microwave variety and fridges are a fraction of standard ones (“They’ll have very small Thanksgiving turkeys,” Mr. Dutton says) — hunger pains can be answered by a quick call to one of two Oliver & Bonacini restaurants below. Straddling King and John, O&B’s casual Canteen and fine-dining Luma are just another part of this “vibrant hybrid of residential, cultural and commercial components,” Mr. Kuwabara says.
Ordering up a lobster burger with cucumber slaw from Luma is just one of the celeb-style à la carte services guests will enjoy. With the help of the resident services director, they’ll also be able to arrange for housekeeping, dog walking and spa services in the building’s private treatment rooms. Those rooms are part of the Tower Club, amenity space that spreads over the 10th and 11th floors of the building and includes the 55-seat Tower Cinema, designed after the five hyper-modern screening rooms in the Lightbox — sleek, black, silent and sealed cocoons. There are three lounges, the main one opening on to a landscaped outdoor terrace and bar area within prime paparazzi range of TIFF’s outdoor terrace. And to help balance all those O&B meals, there’s a fitness centre, yoga studio, outdoor meditation garden and an indoor pool room with hot tubs, saunas and a dramatic floor-to-ceiling waterfall.
Sumptuous amenities, slick suites, sweet views and an important cultural institution (and perhaps a Clooney sighting) right next door — residents are in for quite a show.
First comes the film festival, then occupancy — by the end of November, the first residents are expected to move in. Lucky for them, they’ll have a proper elevator, too.
Aspen Ridge’s Studio on Richmond: An authentic artistic experience
Ryan Starr – Yourhome.ca
The Ontario College of Art and Design is constantly on the hunt for additional space.
OCAD — which in June was granted university status — has grown a fair bit lately, expanding its domain beyond the McCaul St. corridor to include the purchase of three buildings along Richmond St. in what is Toronto’s dwindling club zone.
“We’re trying to create a critical mass of activity in one location as opposed to being scattered around town,” explains Peter Caldwell, the school’s vice president of finance. “And we’re developing quite a footprint on Richmond.”
So when Aspen Ridge Homes unveiled plans for a two-tower condo project that will essentially wrap around one of OCAD’s recently acquired properties, the school recognized a golden opportunity.
Following meetings between OCAD, the developer and the city, a deal was struck: Aspen Ridge would set aside 8,000 square feet of space for OCAD to use as a gallery in their building at the northwest corner of Richmond and Duncan..
“It’s a good partnership,” says Aspen Ridge principal Andrew De Gasperis. “It provides a benefit for OCAD, and for the city, which is trying to revitalize the area. And obviously it’s a great cross-promotion for us, as well.”
The project, dubbed Studio on Richmond, will include two towers: one 31 storeys, the other 41.
The smaller tower, which will be built first, will have 337 units and a nine-storey podium that will incorporate the OCAD gallery. The taller tower — the second phase of the project — will likely include 400 condos and around 25 townhomes.
Units range from 419 to 1,294 square feet, not including the penthouses. A 2,500-square-foot penthouse will occupy the building’s entire top floor, with four sub-penthouses on the level below.
The condos will have floor to ceiling glass, open floor plans and “great kitchens,” De Gasperis says.
Prices start at around $240,000.
Eleven% of the homes at Studio on Richmond — or about 36 suites in the first tower — will be three-bedroom units.
De Gasperis says this stems from an agreement with local councillor Adam Vaughan, who has been pushing developers in his Trinity-Spadina ward to include 10% “family housing” in their projects.
“In the last four years, we’ve approved 7,000 new units of housing in the ward, and every single project, save for one, achieved 10% family housing as a mix,” says Vaughan.
“The reality is we know there’s a growing need for families in the downtown core, and for housing more families in the downtown core close to work.
“And we’re either going to build a city that can be flexible and manage the diversity going forward or we’re going to build for the conditions of what sold yesterday. This is about building a city for the next 50 years.”
Critics say it will be tough to sell condos of that size downtown. De Gasperis figures a three-bedroom unit at Studio will go for “north of $700,000.”
“Is there a market for that? Well, we’re going to test it,” he says. “If not, we’re just going to have to discount those units eventually. It’ll be difficult, there’s no question, because of the end price.”
Sales are slated to launch in November.
Aspen Ridge is targeting existing area residents and young professionals working in the financial district. It’s also looking to entice back to the area those who were driven away by all the clubs.
“It’s a highly sought-after site,” De Gasperis says. “And it’s a slick building.”
Quadrangle Architects designed the two towers, which feature a series of stacked cubes. There will be terraces on some floors, “which breaks it up so it’s not a monotonous building,” De Gasperis says.
The first tower — which will incorporate the OCAD gallery — will have an outdoor party room, walk-out kitchen, BBQ and lounge area on the ninth floor. Inside there will be a party space that can be divided into a series of smaller rooms.
Details have yet to be worked out for the taller building’s podium space.
De Gasperis says the tower might have townhomes at its base, or retail space with residences above.
“It really depends on how revitalized the area gets once we get to the second phase,” he says. “Retail is sort of suffering at the moment because Richmond is almost a highway. It’s a little rushed for retail.”
He notes there are plans in the works to turn Richmond and Adelaide back into two-way streets. “We’re hoping that with those proposed changes, it’ll create more foot traffic in the area, which will help the retail.”
OCAD’s 8,000-square-foot space will be used primarily for exhibitions, with a portion leased out to a food and beverage service operator.
“Some people may come to have lunch and wander next door to see what’s on in the various galleries,” says Caldwell, “or people may come to see our galleries and stay for a glass of wine and a light dinner.”
The exhibit space will be divided into different areas, he says, allowing for different events to be held simultaneously.
“The idea is for it to be a beehive of activity, with constantly changing exhibits, not shows that’ll stay there for four months. We want it to be a very dynamic space.”
Aspen Ridge plans to complement OCAD’s space by carrying certain of its design elements through into the condo building and by featuring students’ art in the lobby.
“We’re going to integrate their space with ours,” De Gasperis says. “We want to do something sort of funky, a little bit more in tune with the gallery space, and we want to incorporate that into the design of our podium.”
OCAD obviously benefits from the donated space. But as Caldwell points out, the school’s presence in the neighbourhood in turn will ensure the area is animated and vibrant.
“Having professors and art and design students in the community, working in the community, studying in the community, enlivens it in a wonderful creative way,” he says, noting that the school will also support restaurants and services in the area.
“It’s a real win-win-win situation,” says Vaughan. “(OCAD) gives the building a unique identity in a crowded market, it delivers a strong anchor to a residential property and it helps us revitalize Richmond St. all at the same time.
“In my view, it represents a responsible and creative way to build a city.”
And when it comes to wooing would-be buyers, the OCAD gallery will provide Aspen Ridge with a natural marketing hook.
“People who move into this building will be surrounded by real artists and designers,” Caldwell says. “This will be an authentic experience.”
Increased height = Increased benefits
The OCAD-Aspen Ridge partnership has its basis in Section 37 of the City of Toronto’s Planning Act, which enables the city to change zoning bylaws to allow for height or density increases in return for “community benefits.”
Under the arrangement, developers can either build certain capital facilities — such as libraries, recreation centres, community centres and health centres — or make cash contributions to fund construction of such facilities.
The goal is “to address service needs or deficiencies in the existing community.”
Section 37 funds can be used for public art, parks, streetscape improvements or the conservation of heritage properties.
They can also go toward building rental housing to replace demolished rental housing, or to preserve existing rental housing.