266 king west toronto forma

Frank Gehry's skyscrapers will be breathtaking additions to the Toronto skyline

The towers of King and Bay have dominated Toronto's skyline for decades, but some of the tallest buildings in the country are in the works in surrounding areas.

The Entertainment District has grown to become more of a condo district in recent years, but its boldest and tallest buildings are shaping up to be unlike anything else in the city, and they're coming soon to the block of 266-284 King Street West.

Known as Forma, the two-tower complex will feature two of the city's tallest buildings. Their soaring respective heights of 73 and 84 storeys will tower over surrounding condos, the ambitious design by locally-born, world-renowned architect Frank Gehry wowing in a new batch of renderings.

The long-awaited Toronto legacy project for the Toronto-born, Pritzker Prize-winning legend will mark his first new build in Canada.

The only local contribution to the 93-year-old Canadian-American architect's illustrious portfolio was the 2008-completed AGO expansion.

His accomplishments have been lauded, and his celebrity status as an architect is as A-list as they come, even appearing as a guest star in an episode of The Simpsons.

266 king west toronto

Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is an example of the architect's more daring works. Photo by Jack Landau.

Initially proposed by a team headed by theatre impresario David Mirvish, the project is currently led by the team of developers Great Gulf, Dream and Westdale Properties, who recently announced the coming start of sales for the project's 73-storey tower.

But this has been a long time coming.

Almost a decade ago, I was sent on one of my first photojournalism assignments to meet the great Frank Gehry. He had flown into Toronto after the unexpected leak of what was initially a three-tower project with the starchitect's signature expressive form of deconstructivism.

And he didn't seem too thrilled to be back home dealing with the ensuing media circus, his uncompromising reputation shining through in interviews.

Compromise, however, is inevitable in this town, and in the years since that bold 2012 vision was first floated, the project has been predictably whittled down in both scale and design.

It's still tall, but the reduced scope includes the removal of one tower (which would have required the demolition of the Princess of Wales Theatre), slashed heights, and a simplified design that combines for less wow-factor overall.

Still, today's value-engineered (one could even say watered-down) design is nothing short of exceptional.

Even the condo lobby will be a sight to behold, a flowing sculptural installation in copper referencing the shimmering wave pattern that defines the exterior.

Most recently, Frank Gehry sat down with the Globe and Mail's Alex Bozikovic to discuss what will soon be among Toronto's highest skyline points, the legendary architect notably describing the towers' aesthetic as "quiet."

That might be true relative to the astoundingly complex designs Gehry has become known for, but it is just about as loud as it gets by Toronto standards.

Lead photo by

Gehry Partners, LLP


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