Toronto Storeys newest feature “Site Seeing With Hume” reviews the city’s most talked about condos — and has architects and building designers on the edge of their structures. Renowned architecture critic and veteran journalist Christopher Hume has revived his condo critiques, exclusively for TorontoStoreys.com.
ICE Condos At York Centre
Address: 12 and 14 York St.
Developer: Lanterra Developments/Cadillac Fairview
Standing out among the growing thicket of condo towers in downtown Toronto isn’t easy, but that hasn’t stopped architects from doing everything they can to give their projects an edge.
Indeed, skyscraper design in the city has become a race not to be the tallest but the most attention-getting. This translates into towers that change shape, whose novelty façades use balconies as decorative elements and most recently that incorporate slabs of coloured glass.
For the two condo high-rises of the ICE complex at Lake Shore Blvd. and York St., the need to differentiate one building from another has led to a matching pair of curvilinear towers. They change alignment, cladding half-way up and then reach a peak with a vaguely mid-century modern roof punctured with circular openings.
The absence of conventional orthogonal geometry sets the ICE towers (57 and 67 storeys) apart from their surroundings effortlessly. Of course, given how busy the skyline is in this stretch of the core, it’s difficult to see, let alone appreciate ICE’s unique formal qualities.
At ground level, which feels quite distinct from what’s happens above, ICE seems whimsical, almost wonky.
Its transparent curved podium is capped with a green roof supported on a series of leaning columns. And it brings a note of humanity to a street now consigned to permanent shadow.
With so much glass, however, you can’t help but notice that ICE needs cleaning. The sleekness and aesthetic ambitions are harder to appreciate beneath a layer of dust and dirt.