Tag Archives: condo building

Live-Work Units

(this is an article I wrote for UrbanToronto)

From a historical perspective, there is nothing groundbreaking about the live-work model. People have been living and working under one roof for centuries; think shopkeepers with their dwellings upstairs. Artists have built on that paradigm, transforming warehouses to accommodate the amenities of a home as well as open studio space to create and store finished artwork securely.

While commercial loft space – retrofitted with the necessary utilities – has always been a hot commodity amongst the creative community, the advent of live-work space has made the concept of living close to one’s work even more appealing, and – as developers realize – marketable.

This trend seems to fit well with our changing economy. With the recession many have shifted to self-employment, but more than that, the norms have changed. The stable, sequential career paths of a few decades ago are far less common, and a growing number of people work from home, facilitated by technology and online connectivity. Although many live-work spaces are marketed specifically towards retaining local, professional artists, the set-up gives greater opportunity to entrepreneurial residents. It describes a new take on an old idea.

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Example of a 2-storey Live-Work unit at DUKE Condos. Rendering courtesy of TAS.

There are a number of facilities designed and built especially with a live-work purpose in Toronto’s building stock. One of the newest is DUKE, a mid-rise residential development by Quadrangle Architects for TAS in the retro Junction neighbourhood. The seven-storey structure will add 109 condos to the area, including five live-work units aimed at creative entrepreneurs.

Street view of live-work units at DUKE Condos. Rendering courtesy of TAS.

Street view of live-work units at DUKE Condos. Rendering courtesy of TAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southeast corner of DUKE Condo, designed by Quadrangle Architects for TAS.

Southeast corner of DUKE Condo, designed by Quadrangle Architects for TAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the building will turn its most animated face to Dundas Street West, featuring a mix of high-ceilinged retail shops at grade, located along the quiet laneway to the rear of the building, with south facing frontage, will be the 2-storey live-work units.

These suites are well suited to artists, designers, small business and anyone who needs a distinctive work address, with living quarters above.

With direct access from the street, their lower level is designed such that the front can serve as a showroom or work area with a back section that has storage and a washroom.

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Floor plans of a Live-Work unit at DUKE Condos. Image courtesy of TAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a reinvention of creative urban living where owners can conduct business during the day and return to their private quarters off-hours. The units are decently sized, averaging 1150sf with one model at 1548sf.  Each has a small patio at the front to provide a bit of privacy from the sidewalk.

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Frontage of a typical Live-Work unit at Duke Condos. Image courtesy of TAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also on offer are 2-storey townhomes nestled among the houses along Indian Grove – a more conventional living space for urban families.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and a writer specializing in architecture and design. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

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Totem Condos Stacks Up Well Against Average High-Rises

(this is an article I wrote for UrbanToronto)

The poignant nature of the high-rise is to identify itself in the urban skyline. Toronto has developed a tall condominium vernacular of floor-to-ceiling glazing but if you ask many a Torontonian, the city is saturated with much of the same: the generic glass tower that does little to make a positive long-term contribution to the public realm.

Totem Condos is a new residential building downtown by Worsley Urban Partners in conjunction with local architectural practice RAW Design. The 18-storey structure will house 120 units as well as a three-level below-grade parking garage with slots for cars and bicycles. The building has a very compact footprint and uses its space to the maximum, with very little left to waste.

Totem Condos, Worsley Urban Partners, RAW Design

Totem Condos, north elevation, image courtesy of Worsley Urban Partners

RAW continues the evolution of the local condominium architecture with a proposal that sets itself apart from the rest. The building was conceived as a series of glass and dark steel framed boxes, carefully stacked. The eye is drawn skyward as the building’s geometry gently shifts left and right. Small blue ‘fins’ on the south elevation provide some additional visual interest, reflecting light in unique ways, and, when viewed from the interior, creating angled sightlines. In contrast to the sleek surfaces, stone cladding at the base provides texture where the building meets grade.

Lower Manhattan’s award-winning New Museum, a showcase for contemporary art and an icon of urban modernism, inspired the design. Taking cues from the block forms in its surroundings, the Museum stacks seven anodized aluminum mesh-clad rectangular boxes one on top of the other. The shifting of the boxes as they ascend yields a variety of open, fluid, and light-filled internal spaces and gives the building its dramatic shape.

New Museum of Modern Art, Hisao Suzuki, SANAA

New Museum of Modern Art, NYC. Photo: Hisao Suzuki, courtesy of SANAA

The design firm responsible for the branding and marketing of Totem is The Walsh Group – and it’s not your typical ad agency. Under the creative direction of Shakeel Walji, the firm had a strong hand in influencing the built form. “We consult, direct the architect or interior designers working in conjunction with the developer to see what kind of look we want to create. It’s more of a collaborative effort between all parties involved and we like it that way because we feel the product is better, and we feel confident in moving forward in selling.” This sharing of creative control is not always welcome and can rub some team members the wrong way.

But Walji is quick to praise the building’s bold design, saying, “This is a better reading of a point tower in the city compared to most.” He refers to what he finds are all too similar forms in the skyline as a direct result of the need to comply with either mid-rise or high-rise guidelines, which he claims, limit innovation. His criticism is cutting. “The architects spend a lot of time developing the podium on which the building sits, take a coffee break as the building rises, and then there’s a cap at the top. Totem doesn’t have that reading at all.”

Totem Condos, Worsley Urban Partners, RAW Design

Totem Condos, view of northwest corner showing subway entrance, image courtesy of Worsley Urban Partners

Totem is located in ‘the village’ on Dundonald, a leafy street lined with 2- and 3-storey Victorian homes that retains much of its early 20th century appearance as a residential subdivision northeast of Yonge and Wellesley. The site is currently home to the Commercial Travellers’ Association of Canada Building. The 2½-storey structure, built in 1956, was included on the city’s inventory of heritage properties in 2010, acknowledging the cultural heritage value of its Modern design, popular in post-war Toronto. Highly representative of the style, it features a grid of solids and voids with turquoise-hued glazed brick, travertine, aluminum and concreted cladding; façades are organized into bays where concrete piers divide tiers of strip windows with travertine spandrels and panels.

It is separated from the street by a small landscaped courtyard. The original structure will become the base of Totem, adding context, history and texture to the building’s design. Although the prevailing character of Dundonald is composed of low-rise buildings that make up the balance of the streetscape, the scale jumps up: immediately to Totem’s west is the 24-storey brick-clad Continental Tower apartment building from the early ‘70s. Behind it is 22 Condominiums, a glazed 23-storey residential tower at 22 Wellesley St. East by Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance.

Existing building on site of 17 Dundonald Street: Commercial Travelers Association of Canada Building

Existing building on site of 17 Dundonald Street: Commercial Travelers Association of Canada Building

Although City Council has since overturned the office building’s heritage designation, large elements of its modernist façades will be retained and will inform the overall design of the development. Integrated into Totem’s base, the original building will be dismantled and re-built, while above, offset floor plates will cantilever at various levels.

“The City, the TTC (which owns adjacent land), the planners and councillor were very interested to see how we could make this building happen, how we could have a piece of architecture that we could all be proud of,” says Walji. “Our city needs more of this. We should keep elevating the things we offer.”

“When we have architects that develop buildings that are of some stature, that adds to the visual language of our cityscape. It will be more inviting, more tantalizing. NYC is a great example—every corner is like a little gem—it’s memorable.”

Totem Condos, Worsley Urban Partners, RAW Design

Totem Condos, north side showing building entrance and Continental Tower to the right, image courtesy of Worsley Urban Partners

Building form aside, the amenities are pretty swish and, “above and beyond your basics,” notes Walji. The second level will house a gym, a private dining room, and a lounge/bar that opens onto a small exterior space for dining and BBQ.

A roof deck tops the tower and its programming provides the access to outdoors where the building’s mainly small recessed balconies fall short. Residents can enjoy a dining area and lounge with a fire pit and panoramic city views.

The building has a Walk Score of 100 and a large appeal of the location is the access to the Wellesley TTC station. Its street entrance is set in one of the four bays on the north façade, where the building’s main entry was previously situated, under a protective angled canopy. Totem residents can walk through a secured passageway from the main floor lobby directly into the subway station. “This was the biggest selling feature used to entice brokers to investors and buyers”, says Walji “and it’s the first building in Toronto to have it.”

Totem Condos, Worsley Urban Partners, RAW Design

Totem Condos, rooftop terrace, image courtesy of Worsley Urban Partners

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and architectural writer based in Toronto. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Mario Ribeiro of Triumph talks Howard Park Residences

(this is an interview I did and article I wrote for UrbanToronto)

UrbanToronto’s Stephanie Calvet sat down with C.E.O. Mario Ribeiro of Triumph Developments to talk about Howard Park Residences, an urban infill project at the intersection of Dundas and Howard Park in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The first phase, an 8-storey building (far right)   is under construction. Now the company is bringing its Phase Two western counterpart to the market. They will be joined by a multi-storey linking element, with the common entry and courtyard located between the two.

Looking north towards Howard Park Residences, Phases 1 & 2, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

Looking north towards Howard Park Residences, Phases 1 & 2, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

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Photo of existing site – looking northeast from Howard Park Ave. Triumph Developments’ Roncesvalles Lofts project is in the background.

The site, with its odd triangular geometry, was previously home to a service station, aging garages and warehouses (see above). Removing these former industrial activities is an opportunity to tie eclectic Dundas and Roncesvalles Avenues, and to rethink the site as an active part of the public flow with a typology that combines high build density with a commercial program.

RAW Design, a local architecture firm with a portfolio of innovative mid-rise infill projects, crafted the buildings to the site and low-rise residential surroundings, breaking down the scale through massing and detailing. Vegetation that grows on each of its stepped metal terraces at the top floors imparts a softness to the elevation, inextricably part of the ‘look’ of the building that Triumph is committed to providing.

Linking element between Phase 1 (right) and 2 (left), image courtesy of Triumph Developments

Linking element between Phase 1 (right) and 2 (left), image courtesy of Triumph Developments

The project required an amendment to the existing zoning by-law to convert it from industrial to residential and mixed use. How has the project been received by the community?

It was well received. We’ve had no community pushback and lots of support from planners and the councillor. The community asked if commercial space was possible and we integrated that idea into the design.

What sorts of establishments would you like to see occupying the first floor retail/commercial spaces?

We are not looking for large franchises. This is a trendy neighbourhood. We are subdividing the space and hoping to get a variety of small shops, a daycare, maybe a bookstore…

There is more than the typical mix of unit types here. Who is your intended end-user? Is there anything larger than a 2-bedroom plus den?

We have a vast array of styles catered to a lot of different tastes: units tailored to the young professional, units with patios, units for families, including 3- and 4-bedrooms… Our biggest unit is 1400sf. We also have five 2-storey townhomes.

Looking west towards Phase 2 at Howard Park Residences, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

Looking west towards Phase 2 at Howard Park Residences, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

 

 

 

What building amenity program did your team develop that, from your standpoint, is in line with what residents want and need, practically speaking?

Because of the nature of the neighbourhood, there are lots of local amenities within walking distance. To keep construction costs and condo fees down, we provide typical meeting rooms, lounge, a media room, and gym but no pool.

The base building is charcoal-coloured brick and glass and then at the 6th floor, there is a shift both in plan and in exterior cladding. What material is used for the remaining storeys?

It is metal cladding and it goes with the window system. It is also perforated to allow plants to grab onto it.

Incorporating vegetation on the façade will give the building a very interesting presence on the street and from afar. This amount of ‘building green’ is unprecedented in Toronto…

The cascading vines, green roofs and planters will be maintained by the Condo Board as part of the ‘common area’, and not up to each individual owner to maintain. That will keep it looking uniform. There is no stormwater tank but water will be dealt with on site through a combination of stormwater management solutions.

Relative locations of Howard Park and Roncesvalles Lofts by Triumph Developments

Relative locations of Howard Park and Roncesvalles Lofts by Triumph Developments

The site has access to transit (streetcar, subway, one of the stops of the new Union Pearson Express), lots of grade-level bike storage and a great Walk Score. What is the buildings’ parking ratio? Any provision for electrical vehicles?

The parking ratio is around 65-70% suites to parking stalls. At the moment, we’re seeing only 1 out of every 2 units asking for parking and the explanation is that the building is so well serviced by transit. On the other hand, bicycle spots are aplenty and they are in big demand. As for electrical vehicles, that is not final yet. In Phase 2, we provide storage lockers on the upper levels – so that residents have a locker almost across the hall. It became possible because we had to be creative in utilizing the oddly shaped resultant spaces in the core so we located storage lockers and services there.

It is great that parking and service access will be situated along the shared laneway off Howard Park Ave, making the lengthy (650′) Howard streetfront more pedestrian-friendly and accessible for building, townhome and retail entries. Was it a challenge to locate it behind the building?

It might have been easier to situate it between the two buildings but it would have destroyed the look of the complex, and we didn’t want to interrupt the sidewalk. This way it’s off the laneway into Phase 1 and the parking garage under both buildings is all connected.

The building integrates many green initiatives: infill site, brownfield, green roofs, geothermal, stormwater, bike storage, etc. Are you going to take it through the LEED certification process?

Not LEED, although the plaque would look great on the wall! I’ve gone through the process as a trade on other projects and it is painstaking and very difficult administrating all the paperwork. We will comply with Toronto Green Standard Tier 2.

Looking west towards Phase 2 at Howard Park Residences, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

Looking west towards Phase 2 at Howard Park Residences, image courtesy of Triumph Developments

Incorporating geothermal systems (for heating and cooling) in condo building is not common practice in Toronto but the City gives government rebates and interest-free loans to help residential developers ‘go green’. Would you have incorporated it anyways because of the policy of your company or were government financial incentives necessary to make it reach the ROI you were expecting?

We didn’t get any government incentives. We started the process 3 years ago. Geothermal made economic sense in the long term because, if well implemented, it will save on the operation of the building.

Triumph has a keen focus on advancing and promoting sustainability, much like developers like TAS, Minto, and Tridel claim. Any market difference between them and yourselves?

Our scale of projects is smaller. The green initiatives on our buildings are maybe not as cost effective at this scale as Minto would do it. But we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do – that’s the initial motivation – not for marketability reasons.

You have a European background. What aspects of European planning and design would you like to see inform building in Toronto?

Families living in mid-rise buildings is very common in Europe and we don’t see it as much here but I think there is a demand and a trend moving in that direction. I’d like to see buildings inserted into established neighbourhoods so families have access to amenities for their day-to-day, where they can can live and work close by, and people may even be able to go home for lunch. Large courtyard features, shared backyards, schools within walking distance, and several generations living in the same building – these are intimate living examples that I was familiar with. There is a sense of family and unity. We had these ideas in mind for our first project, Roncesvalles Lofts, and they continue to be valid for Howard Park. It is not a 25-storey structure; this is a place that makes sense to have an 8-storey building. It is a ‘community’ where you get to know your neighbours. The project will house 96 units – not a huge amount of people – and it is not intended to be transient with mainly short term rentals. Hopefully people move here and stay for a lifetime.

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and architectural writer based in Toronto. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Toronto’s Harmony Village Sheppard Offers Boomers Healthy Active Living

(this is an article I wrote for UrbanToronto)

For some time now real estate and aging-related research experts have been predicting the massive sell-off of big homes by baby boomers seeking smaller quarters. With the kids out of the nest and retirement approaching, people are looking to simplify their lives and trim expenses, housing being the major one. This expected downsizing trend has yet to be reflected in national housing data, and many doubt it will become a large enough exodus to affect home prices. Boomers have solid reasons for moving from their existing home, however.

CEO of City Core Developments, Jack Pong, is confident of this demographic shift and his company’s new market research supports his theory. Their online survey polled 508 randomly selected Ontario homeowners 50 years of age and older who are considering purchasing or renting real estate, and it showed that 59 per cent are looking to downsize within 5 years. Top reasons cited were: reducing maintenance work, lowering the cost of living, moving to a smaller home, and increasing their ability to travel more. Many plan to tap home equity to help finance their retirement.

Rendering of Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

Rendering of Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

“This approaching wave of downsizing will further boost the condo market, especially for facilities that are offering the upscale comforts and lifestyle communities that Boomers will be demanding,” explains Pong. “This current survey confirms that this demographic places the highest importance on maintaining an independent lifestyle in an urban setting.”

Pong is the developer behind Harmony Village Sheppard, a residential complex planned for today’s baby boom and senior generations in Toronto’s Scarborough district. Now set for public launch, the Page+Steele/IBI Architects’-designed development will consist of two 33-storey towers joined by a shared four-storey podium structure at Sheppard and Warden Avenues. The feel is more traditional than “urban village vibe”, and it is meant to promote an integrated community that offers comfort and convenience.

Living Wall at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

Living Wall at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

The vision for the project as set forth by its developer was to reach the next generation of seniors by moving beyond what is currently available in the market, and exploring new opportunities to provide a life enriching environment. Harmony Village Sheppard offers a new approach to condo living and is designed to help residents sustain a healthy and physically and socially active lifestyle without having to leave home. The “age-in-place” concept provides a full range of amenities and services people need as they move toward retirement, including on-site home healthcare and full meal plans. Universal design concepts are also built into suites; think lowered light switches, raised electrical outlets, and easy-access shower entrances.

Restaurant at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

Restaurant at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

The 35,000 sq. ft. indoor amenity space comprises: a state-of-the-art aquatic centre; multiple dining venues including a fine dining restaurant and cappuccino bar; entertainment room; library; and, full service beauty salon. On-site year-round leisure and event programming will offer a plethora of activities from art classes and cooking demonstrations to gardening and swimming. And, just as thoughtfully considered as the interior are the exterior spaces, coordinated by NAK Design Group, such as a lushly landscaped forecourt, Zen garden and community terrace where residents can enjoy rooftop planting beds.

Zen garden at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

Zen garden at Harmony Village Sheppard, image courtesy of City Core Developments

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and architectural writer based in Toronto. She can be found at www.stephaniecalvet.com

Sustainable Design a Key Component of DUKE Condos

(this is an interview I gave and article I wrote for UrbanToronto)

Stephanie Calvet sat down with Michelle Xuereb, architect and sustainability strategist at Quadrangle Architects, to discuss the green aspects of DUKE Condo’s design. The mid-rise building, which takes its name from an amalgam of Dundas and Keele streets in The Junction, is under development by TAS.

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The latest rendering of what DUKE will look like, as designed by Quadrangle Architects, image courtesy of TAS.

TAS has been trumpeting the lengths they are going to, to create a sustainable condominium building in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood since launching DUKE Condos last year. It is encouraging to see a developer raise the bar beyond what the building requirements call for.

For TAS, it is about building community, about being a good neighbour, and understanding there is a social, economic, cultural and ecological side to everything. TAS is motivated to build their business philosophy, outlined in their ‘Four Pillars of Sustainability’, into all of their projects.

Was the decision at DUKE to ‘go green’ to the degree that it is in anticipation of new energy efficiency regulations in the building code?

For this site, they have to comply with City of Toronto Tier 1 and the Green Roof Bylaw. Anything above that is their own initiative.

High window-to-wall ratios are a current condominium design practice in Toronto, a feature that seems market-driven, not rooted in energy performance. How do we reconcile that with the fact that significant energy savings are available in building envelopes with less glazing?

I think it is actually more developer driven, and also driven by economics. Putting up a window wall system is straightforward and quick – it makes everything happen faster. Sales took off on this building and it is not floor-to-ceiling glass. I believe you have to put something out there so people realize they want it. DUKE has a specific character and people are attracted to that – and the scale is right, the materiality feels good, and it is just standard materials: windows, brick, and some metal siding. It is quite simple but it is a different approach than just cladding in glass.

Which aspect of the building’s design do you think has the biggest impact in terms of sustainability? Through which methods did you assess net energy savings?

The envelope is key. It’s about getting window-to-wall ratio down— 40-50% is where you want to be—using the best glazing possible, and reducing thermal bridging as much as possible. The window will always be the weakest link in the building so the more you can shrink that aperture, the less heat you’re losing. At DUKE we’re using aluminum frames and the glazing is argon filled with a low-e coating. At Quadrangle, we design what we think is the right thing to do and we have to be asked to do less. We feel we have to lead that way. The bonus from the recent Toronto Green Standard changes is that it makes it a level playing field for all developers – everyone has to do this. We do energy modelling early in the process.

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South-facing terraces with built-in planters at DUKE Condo designed by Quadrangle Architects for TAS

There’s great citywide interest in local and organic food. DUKE’s south side terraces are being lined with built-in planters that can be used for home gardening. Are you ‘leading the way’ by incorporating this feature into the design or is it in response to social shifts and increased demand for urban agriculture in residential developments?

There are various non-profit organizations out there advocating food policy in buildings, trying to push legislation, trying to speak to developers about how to make food happen. We too are working with these companies to help promote and push these initiatives – for one, we put food production ideas in our renderings. There’s no reason your front garden can’t have edible food. And TAS has been doing it from their side as well. We are all hoping that it really takes off. And the planters came out of another reason as well: affording neighbours to the south some privacy by having the depth of this green buffer, rather than just a railing. When there are multiple reasons why an element makes sense, it’s likely to stay ingrained in the building, and not get value engineered out.

Standard suites include engineered hardwood flooring, water-conserving fixtures, energy efficient appliances, programmable thermostats, and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) to reduce energy demands and enhance air quality. Have these innovations come down in price so that the developer can provide them as part of the standard offerings?

There are a lot of things that have become more standard, like low-VOC flooring or paint, and it has become a requirement to provide energy metering to each suite. ERVs haven’t really come down in cost – the additional ductwork costs everybody more – but TAS has elected to do this anyway because it’s about improving indoor air quality and it’s something they can market.

A total of 25% of the parking stalls will be equipped with an electrical outlet for plug-in and provisions were made for future energizing of the other spaces. Will you provide a central bank of dedicated charging stations? What does that mean for the electrical capacity of the building for each space to have the possibility of EV chargers? Why go this route instead of the (less costly) car-share option?

This is a goal of TAS’ to do this. At one point we had a car share vehicle space within the building but there’s enough within the neighbourhood. The way things are going in the future, it will become more and more economical to have a plug-in electric vehicle. People in North America are pretty attached to their individual car ownership. To provide infrastructure for people to have plug-in electric is about future-proofing the building. But as for how it’s specifically going to work at DUKE, whether they will run it to a panel that is individually metered, we haven’t finalized it yet.

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Southeast corner of DUKE Condo, designed by Quadrangle Architects for TAS

As per the city’s Green Roof Bylaw, certain % coverage of the roof is required to be a green roof, based on the building’s gross floor area. Which system will you provide at DUKE?

It will be a drought-resistant, low-profile, extensive green roof (vs intensive – where you can plant trees and shrubs). Probably a tray system. Green roofs raise your top of roof that much higher, so you have to be careful of how you distribute the heights because you lose potential area if the roof is too thick, plus you have to consider structure. There is always a trade-off.

The benefits of a green roof are multifold. Do you believe that in the near future, sky-gardens will become both desirable and inevitable as part of a growing cityscape?

I wish it would become more prevalent because we see it as a positive attribute. Right now, green roofs cost more money and the market isn’t necessarily looking for it, so we’re not there yet. And the Bylaw % requirements aren’t high enough in terms of how much you are obligated to provide for anything more than something quite basic, i.e. a low-profile extensive roof. If the developer wants to build a lot more, it’s just additional expense and if they can’t use it as a marketing tool, chances are they won’t opt to go that route.

How do you think we can best encourage that sustainable strategies be followed on all building projects, from conception through construction to furnishing?

There have to be financial incentives and legislation, otherwise it won’t happen, as well as the fact the City of Toronto itself has taken a leadership position on this: 15% better than the current building code. That level is really the 2017 version of the code. It’s those sorts of energy initiatives – being a certain percentage better than code – that have been happening at the municipal and the provincial level, which have been pushing the envelope.

There is always cost involved with change, i.e. change from traditional to sustainable construction practices. Consumer awareness about conservation and low impact development issues is key and people might be interested in ‘doing the right thing’, but when the rubber meets the road, they aren’t always willing to pay more. What could be the facilitating mechanism that will encourage consumers to make the extra effort for eco-friendly avenues knowing that payback will come later?

I’d say it’s the consumer, the purchaser. At the end of the day, it’s the cost per square foot, and they want to know they are getting a certain kind of countertop. Right now, what I’m hearing from marketing folk is that people don’t want to pay for ‘green’ initiatives, they think that the buildings should come with them. The green is just part of the story that people are expecting to see as opposed to it being an add-on, and having to pay more for it. To me what would be interesting would be a developer who would work really hard to bring those numbers (maintenance fees) down and the way to do that would be to provide an extremely durable building.  

Stephanie Calvet is an architect and architectural writer based in Toronto. She can be found at  www.stephaniecalvet.com