Skip to main content

Toronto’s official guidelines for new mid-rise developments are humane, well-intentioned and quite specific. Their specificity is one reason they are also controversial, at least in architecturally interested circles. Designers and developers complain that the gate-keepers at city hall frequently interpret the guidelines in a fundamentalist fashion, thwarting artistic innovation and encouraging a certain dull sameness in mid-rise schemes.

If the planners are indeed hide-bound grinches when it comes to enforcing the guidelines, they fell asleep at the switch on at least two recent occasions. One was the day architect Stephen Teeple brought forward his final plans for the 146-unit condo project called SIX25BV, in Bayview Village. And the other was when Roland Rom Colthoff (principal in RAW Design) proposed the small residential complex scheduled to go up at 346 Davenport Rd., a few steps west of Avenue Road. Both mid-rise designs have swing and smooth style, and there’s not much letter-of-the-law about either of them.

SIX25BV in Bayview Village is a 146-unit condo project, designed by Stephen Teeple and project architect Bernard Jin. (Haven Developments)

The city’s rules mandate step-backs above the lower storeys of mid-rises, to guarantee plenty of sunlight on the street and to mitigate the weightiness of the building over the sidewalk. To be sure, the upper levels of the structure that Mr. Teeple and project architect Bernard Jin have crafted for Haven Developments retreat from the property line in stages, giving the bulk of SIX25BV the step-ladder form that the city considers desirable.

But instead of moving back with the mass of the building, the dark, irregular, interlocking grid that frames the lower storeys rises flat and straight to the top, even as the upper units themselves recede behind the grid. The result of these moves is a box-shaped, strongly defined volume that appears to evaporate as it lifts toward the sky, leaving only a trace of the eight-storey building’s skeleton up there – a bit like the Cheshire cat’s smile. (Back at grade, this smart, urbane structure will probably hold its corner location well. It will inject big-city sophistication into the otherwise nondescript suburban intersection of Sheppard Avenue East and Greenbriar Road.)

The suites at SIX25BV range from 450 to 1,350 sq. ft. (Haven Developments)

The differing sizes of the floor plates suggested no fewer than 65 variations on apartment layouts, Mr. Teeple and Mr. Jin said. The suites range in area from 450 to 1,350 square feet, and in format from one-bedroom to two-bedrooms plus den. According to the plans I saw, the units seem to be about as compact as any high-efficiency condominium apartments you might find downtown, although terraces and balconies appear more ample than the ordinary. One two-bedroom suite with an interior of 984 square feet, for example, opens through glass walls onto a wrap-around terrace 554 square feet in area.

Prices at SIX25BV start in the mid-$200,000s.

The rooftop of SIX25BV. (Haven Developments)

By way of contrast, the least expensive unit (1,000 square feet) at Roland Rom Colthoff’s very downtown, 10-storey 346 Davenport is on the market for $800,000. The average price for one of the 30 suites available, Peter Freed (head of Freed Developments) said, is in the $1.2-million to $1.5-million range. Because some buyers are acquiring more than one unit and combining their holdings, the final number of homes in the building may turn out to be around 20, he added.

Roland Rom Colthoff of RAW Design designed this 10-storey proposed building at 346 Davenport Rd. (Freed Developments)

“This is not a starter home,” the developer said. There will be private parking and a concierge and one upscale commercial space on the ground floor, but no gym and definitely no party room. “Peaceful living and privacy,” according to Mr. Freed, will be the chief amenities accessible to residents.

An interior rendering of 346 Davenport. (Freed Developments)

But, if renderings can be believed, the dwellers in 346 Davenport will also enjoy living in a structure with elegance and attractive attitude. The streetside façade of Mr. Rom Colthoff’s tall, trim building is an interesting, quietly irregular abstract composition of glassy boxes and recessions arrayed as tree branches on either side of a irregularly snipped “trunk” of white material. (Mr. Freed said he had hoped the vertical strip would be richly veined white marble, but admitted that Toronto’s climate is probably too hostile to this classic stone to make its use viable.) The façade geometry expresses each suite individually, creating distinct “addresses” on the exterior for each home-owner.

Both SIX25BV and 346 Davenport are examples of the imaginative mid-rise things that can happen when architects treat the city’s sensible design guidelines with respect, but push back a little on their interpretation as holy writ.

What's it really like buying - or selling - a home these days? We want to hear from you.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.