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7 St. Thomas a good example of heritage preservation?

Posted by Robyn Urback / December 4, 2012

7 st thomasTake a ride across the Gardiner or a stroll along Adelaide, and you'd think Toronto was all glass towers and temporary cladding. But the cognizant Toronto resident knows the city has, indeed, retained relics of architectural charm, which are evident just so long as you don't look up.

One of the more recent cases (or casualties, depending on how you look at it) is the row of Victorian towns on Sultan Street just southwest of Bay and Bloor. The heritage structures, which were built back in the 1880's, are now the base for a new condo office concept that will rise nine storeys and tout its own healthy presence of glass.

Developed by St. Thomas Commercial and designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects, units in the structure are now available for sale to businesses an at average of $830 per square foot, with three floors for occupancy in the "podium" heritage structures and six available atop. Dubbed 7 St. Thomas, the project boasts curved fritted glass, stone detailing, and a starkly different impression from the townhomes below.

Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, mind you. But with so many urban examples of heritage properties moved aside or built upon — from relatively small projects such as the James Cooper Mansion condo devlelopment to the massive ROM Crystal overhaul — Toronto's so-called heritage projects seem to be increasingly perceived as ripe for the taking. Rarely left to revel in their own charm (where's the potential capital in that?!) hundred-year-old structures are often literally pushed aside for something new and lucrative.

7 st thomasI get the need for urban development and the pressures of added density. But it doesn't help that the "something new" added to heritage projects is often obtrusive in visual contrast (sorry 7 St. Thomas, I'm talking about you) and overwhelming in scale. The effect, in my opinion, is a cheapening of heritage charm and somewhat grotesque streetside juxtaposition. But that's just my hopeless romantic heart bleeding all over the newly inlayed brick sidewalk.

What do you think of the design for 7 St. Thomas? Add your comments to the thread below.



L. / December 4, 2012 at 11:38 am
SO ugly. Great for keeping the building around - but do they have to ruin it with that glass monstrosity? Horrifying.
j-rock / December 4, 2012 at 11:52 am
One day in the future, after this city has come to its senses, I hope that people will look back at the current condo boom and vow "never again".

The developers have been allowed to run wild at the expense of smart planning and aesthetics.
EC / December 4, 2012 at 11:54 am
matts / December 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm
The design has the appeal of - and similarity to - grain silos
Joe / December 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm
Yah, we're all doomed by our architecture. HA! Give me a break!
buju / December 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm
da hell...?
Mark / December 4, 2012 at 01:00 pm
The new part has no relation to the old part; the new just looks annoyed at the old. That's why it looks ugly.
steve replying to a comment from j-rock / December 4, 2012 at 01:00 pm
100 years from now we will bemoaning the loss of what is being built now. There is good and bad from all eras.
There is a slow but steady interest in mid century architecture, much of it already lost.
Cyril Sneer / December 4, 2012 at 01:22 pm
That lobby looks cold, sterile, and uninviting. When did this kind of winter-minimalism become a thing? Its awful.
agsds / December 4, 2012 at 03:52 pm
You people will find ANYTHING to complain about. jesus.

Keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.
please replying to a comment from agsds / December 4, 2012 at 04:29 pm
Brendan / December 4, 2012 at 04:31 pm
I, for one, would like to see all the derelict Victorian row houses in Toronto left to rot. Then we can demolish them and put in the condos without those pesky olde tyme facades.


The City really should have tried harder to convince several home buyers to individually purchase these houses and then sink tens of thousands of dollars into them with any chance of recouping those costs. People need to be less selfish and buy unprofitable properties. It'd be better for everyone.
Rex / December 4, 2012 at 04:57 pm
I'm just glad to see a new office building downtown amidst all the condos. People need somewhere to work! If we're not keeping pace with office growth, the 'reverse commute' to Mississauga will start becoming the regular commute.
John / December 4, 2012 at 11:20 pm
My favourite thing about this is that the developers and architects resisted the urge to make a cartoonish mockery of victorian architecture.
Pete / December 5, 2012 at 10:37 am
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! It's become like a game now to see who will come up with the most ridiculous design.
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