Condos Today and the Art of Architecture Image

Condos Today and the Art of Architecture

By Lucas on Nov 13, 2013

By David Eisenstadt

In Toronto, condominiums are flourishing as the new home choice of residents and investors. Condos are also helping to fuel the renters’ market, and the appeal is understandable. Living in one of these new buildings brings with it a lifestyle of ease, leisure and even artistic ambience.

One of the most beautiful aspects of newer architecture in Toronto is the outstanding public art included in condo design. Recognizing the importance of a vibrant cultural community in maintaining healthy municipalities, the City of Toronto developed a policy called ‘Percent for Public Art’ to support the inclusion of art in major private sector developments.

DE headshot - cutlined

The program recommends that a minimum of one per cent of the gross construction cost of each development go toward this purpose. Developers across Toronto have embraced the recommendation, with remarkable works of art adorning their street-level frontages and courtyards. The idea is that publicly accessible art benefits residents and visitors alike, which is an intriguing thought for rental buildings as well.

Toronto’s model for making it all happen involves a collaborative process among developers, their marketing staffs, sales, public relations (PR) and agencies. They work together to determine that the art selected will communicate an appropriate and complimentary message. The art must also enhance its surroundings, speak to the sensibilities of purchasers and satisfy the criteria set by City Planning and a citizen advisory group. Toronto’s system of checks and balances is in place to ensure that the work selected is appropriate, within a workable budget and completion schedule, and that the process for selecting the artist and work is done in a fair and professional manner.

It truly is a team effort, and over the years, tcgpr has been involved in promoting the art for numerous developers. It is always a fascinating element of our strategically-planned PR programs and provides genuine news pegs within our overall assignments.

In a nutshell, people respond positively to public art.

Ultimately, the artistic choice marries art, architecture, engineering and psychology. Our goal is to convey a multi-faceted message – this is what our client’s condominium is about, what our area is about and what Toronto is about. Our clients research the artists who work in the appropriate media and determine the best way to make a final selection. This can vary from competitions to direct commissions.

The results, more often than not, are stunning. Here are a few of my favourites:

Daniels - Cinema Tower - Strata

The Daniels Corporation’s Cinema Tower at King & John Sts. for example, features “Strata” at its entrance. This metaphorical piece resembles a core sample of geology pulled up from the earth. The sculpture, by artist Peter Powning, who also created the multimedia installation in the lobby of Festival Tower (TIFF Bell Lightbox) next door. The Festival Tower entrance is also graced with the 1,400-pound blue sculpture “Things End” by local artist James Carl. This playful take on the rubber band represents the creativity in Toronto’s Entertainment District.

Graywood - Ritz - Torn i

Another example of a developer factoring in a love of fine art to a project is demonstrated by Graywood Development Ltd’s President Garnet Watchorn, who worked with a Toronto art consultant and personally selected the high-quality Canadian art displayed throughout The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the Residences in Toronto. His passion for the support of fine art was also to give the selected Canadian artists further recognition for their talent.

Aspen Ridge - VU - Brickman

Facing St. James Park, the striking Brick Man towers is part of Aspen Ridge’s award-winning VÜ condominium community in the heart of downtown Toronto. And at Aspen Ridge’s Studio 2 on Richmond, the condo complex will include an 8,000 sq. ft. facility for OCAD U to use as a public art gallery and restaurant.

Menkes - Luxe - Cut-outs

Menkes enlisted artist Linda Covit for two of its properties, Luxe Condominiums and Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Toronto. The Luxe art consists of large stainless steel backlit cut-outs of indigenous plants and flowers adorning the condominium’s canopy and planters. To enhance the Four Seasons Toronto courtyard, Covit is working on the theme of roses, a popular flower of the Victorian era.

ELAD - Douglas Coupland

To comply with Toronto’s Public Art program, ELAD Group’s Emerald City Condominiums community will soon feature a series of installations by Canadian novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland – the first major permanent public art project in Toronto’s Ward 33-Don Valley East.

And it’s not just the City of Toronto where all this is happening. Take Mississauga, where the Gothic-inspired One Park Tower in Daniels’ City Centre has architecture that incorporates eight massive gargoyles.

In our view, those developers who support and commit with passion to an artistic component demonstrate a clear definition of Public Relations, simply put … "Doing Good, And Getting Credit For It."

They also serve as role models for rental apartment building owners and developers, who may consider adding public art to enhance their residences.

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr (PR Consultants to News MakersTM), Toronto-based, PR consultants serving Canadian and multi-national clients coast-to-coast (  (

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