In a city leading the world in downtown residential growth, classic architectural gems are becoming increasingly rare, but the Canadian Westinghouse Building
at the corner of King Street and Blue Jays Way
is destined to become a historical architectural statement in the bustling neighbourhood thanks to the vision of Mansoor Kazerouni
. As the Executive Vice President of Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects
, he and his team are retaining the distinct design of the nearly 100-year old building in the plan for King Blue Condos
. We speak to Kazerouni on how the building influenced the overall design that will make King Blue an eclectic mix of old and new.
Tell us about when you were first approached by the Easton's Group to work on this project.
Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects has a long history of working with the Easton's Group
on many of their hospitality projects, and when Mr. Gupta purchased the site he called to say he wanted to work with me on it. He articulated his vision for a mixed-use development that combined residential, retail, commercial and cultural uses, adding to the vibrancy of the area. Needless to say we were delighted to be selected for such a prominent site in Toronto, right in the epicentre of the Entertainment District.
What has the design process been like for King Blue?
It’s been a very exciting and challenging process. There are a number of challenges to overcome in any development project such as the urban context, program, site conditions, marketability and construction, to name a few. Our challenge is to address these issues with a cohesive and appropriate architectural response in conjunction with the rest of the development team. In this case we have an incredibly talented team of professionals, and a client with a very strong vision. Every member of the team has stepped up their game and brought their creativity to the table to produce this spectacular project.
How does the historical aspect of the Canadian Westinghouse Building add to your overall design approach?
King Blue embodies the vibrancy, energy and eclectic character of the Entertainment District
, combining historic and contemporary elements. The Westinghouse Building is a great example of turn of the century Chicago style industrial architecture. We knew at the outset that this building would influence the development at many levels. The principal facades, with their terracotta frames, are of historical significance and are being incorporated into the development. These facades became the springing point for the architectural composition and organization of the site.
The Westinghouse façade is separated from the new podium by a glass reveal that punctuates a walkway offering access to a central courtyard, an integral part of the personality of this extensive complex. Further integration between old and new occurs at grade where all street frontages will be lined with restaurants, shops and entrances into the residential and museum lobbies, adding to the animation and activity of the public realm.
With so much high-rise construction happening in Toronto, what makes King Blue stand out in the downtown skyline?
We decided to exercise restraint and create timeless buildings that stay away from trends and gimmicks while confidently assuming their position at this prominent site. The towers at King Blue with their dark glass cladding punctuated by white fritted glass balcony stacks, will rise above the podium to heights of 48 and 44 storeys and terminate gracefully with gently tapered roof profiles. The balcony stacks interrupted by three two-storey breaks and the tapered roof profile will make these towers instantly recognizable in the downtown Toronto skyline.