Architects and building designers beware, renowned architecture critic and veteran journalist Christopher Hume is reviving his condo critiques, exclusively for TorontoStoreys.com.
Development: Museum House
Developer: The Yorkville Group
Architect: Page + Steele, IBI Group
Address: 206 Bloor St. W.
No one would mistake a Toronto condo for a garden, but Museum House is doing its best to change that.
The remarkable 19-storey Bloor Street tower stands out from every other residential high-rise in the city for the balcony planters that transform it into a uniquely beautiful vertical green space.
Since the building opened in 2012, just across the road from the Royal Ontario Museum, it has become a local landmark, an example of the enormous potential of a balconied tower to make Toronto — or any city for that matter — more attractive and engaging.
Interestingly, no other local project has risen to the challenge so far.
The idea that a condo would take advantage of its role as an object on the landscape to enhance the urban environment hasn’t caught on. Indeed, most such buildings are designed with little thought beyond the developers’ need to build cheaply and quickly and with a degree of architectural novelty.
The result of the development industry’s limited commitment to the public realm has been a skyline that grows ever more predictable and homogeneous. Little wonder so many balconies are either empty or employed as storage areas.
By contrast, Museum House has a built-in irrigation system that keeps balcony planters watered and the plants healthy. Everything else about the tower, from its metallic cladding to its modest street presence speaks of the building’s excellent urban manners.
Clearly, Museum House is more than just a pretty face.