After nearly a decade-long saga, world-renowned Canadian architect Frank Gehry’s major development project in downtown Toronto is finally about to go on sale, with the final version being significantly simpler than the original design.
Prior to the condo sale for the East Tower, scheduled for June 16, developers unveiled plans for the building’s interior and lobby. But the two-tower complex — known as Forma and marking Gehry’s first residential tower in Canada and his tallest building in the world — has endured years of negotiations and alterations since David Mirvish announced he was working with Gehry to build a trio of towers. in Toronto’s Nightlife District in 2012.
The towers’ architecture has been noticeably downsized and value-engineered in scale and design after city officials reacted with fear and disgust when Gehry’s first proposal was put forward in 2013. But urban planner and architect Ken Greenberg says the result is tasteful and appropriate. for the city.
“The design remains elegant and beautifully put together and it’s not extreme,” Greenberg said. “Gehry himself commented that the original project was not suitable for Toronto.”
Originally, the concept involved three super-tall towers over 80 stories on a six-story podium, which would have required the demolition of four designated historic warehouses and the Princess of Wales Theatre. The city expressed concern and concern at the possible loss of several landmark buildings, a reminder of the days when that part of King West was a manufacturing district.
The designs of the triptych towers themselves were more extravagant, being touted by theater impresario Mirvish as the “sculptures in which people can live,” with cascading slabs of glass and steel culminating in a cloud-like podium. The project was first proposed by a team led by Mirvish, but is now led by a team of developers: Westdale Properties, Dream Unlimited and Great Gulf, who recently announced the start of sales. Mirvish sold the project in 2017.
Mitchell Cohen, the chief operating officer of Westdale Properties, said he is pleased with the outcome and that the simplification of the project was a natural evolution for the towers and how the buildings balance the city’s skyline.
“With the help of the city and consultation with Frank Gehry and with industry consultants, it was determined that it was a bit crowded with three towers and we ended up with what we have now,” said Cohen.
Cohen added that there were cost considerations and that the edges of the towers have been softened, with each 10-story building reduced in size “to better align with the current skyline.”
At the heart of the entertainment district, the towers will be placed on either side of Duncan Street, facing 266 and 276 King St. W., one 73 stories high and the other 84 stories, with more than 2,000 condo units in total.
Interior designer Paolo Ferrari will design the experience spaces. The east tower is expected to be completed in 60 months, and Cohen said there was no set schedule for the construction and sale of the second tower. The prices for the apartments are not yet final.
The project’s name, Forma, comes from the Latin and Italian meaning for shape and form which was inspired by the dancing movement of the towers, capturing the city’s colors and sunlight on the iridescent glass and steel facades.
“This is a Frank Gehry homecoming masterpiece,” Cohen said of the Toronto-born and raised architect.
“This will put Toronto on the map as an architectural destination. We will have the tallest Gehry building in the world.”
But Greenburg warned that looks aren’t everything in a densely populated city like Toronto, which is already filled with massive condominium towers and in dire need of green space and public amenities.
“As beautiful as the building is… I want to make a reservation about building a city with hyper-tall buildings in terms of sustainability and liveability,” Greenburg said.
“Most of these extremely tall buildings to be built in Toronto don’t have a great street presence and aren’t particularly inviting at street level. You can look at the skyline from a distance, but what people really experience in their daily lives is what it is like to stand next to that building, what does it offer the public space?”
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