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New Will Alsop condo may be coming to Yonge and Lawrence

"The brief was to put some apartments on that corner."

I got hold of of the jocular architect Will Alsop in his London office to ask about the midrise he designed for independent developer and former architect Bianca Pollak, to be built on Strathgowan Avenue, just south of Yonge and Lawrence. I’d asked him what instructions he got from his client that resulted in what, if built, will be the most delightful condo in town.

With the bottom six floors enveloped in a stainless steel mesh, and the top four a tabletop, Alaska, as it would be known, is the sort of building we’re more accustomed to seeing in Berlin, Shanghai, or even Abu Dhabi. But here in Toronto, we tend more towards the rectilinear.

Alsop, who also designed the Sharpe Centre for Design at OCAD, is the bon vivant to Gehry’s mad professor and Nouvel’s fantasist. His designs tend to evince a beauty filtered through a sense of humour.

But he’s also interested in how his buildings work where they sit, and for Alsop, this stretch of Yonge Street, including this corner, which currently houses a nursery, a sporting goods store and the building that Pollak’s design shop now occupies, doesn’t  yet know its worth.

"Apart from Ms. Pollak’s existing building, which is rubbish, what is it about this part of the street that’s wrong and could be better? The answer is there’s quite a lot wrong. It’s the scale: It needs to be brought up to celebrate Yonge Street, one of the most important streets in Canada. It’s tough to do with one site," he says, "but we can make a start."

The appropriate applications for the building, whose address would be on Strathgowan Avenue, are with the city now. Word on when Yonge and Stragowan may get some of Alsop's apartments is expected sometime in the next 18 months.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Will Alsop

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