Buildings - Award
Address: 388 Richmond St. W.
Architect/Urban Designer: Architects Alliance
Owner/Developer: Context Development
The building massing and orientation creates an elevated exterior amenity courtyard, which defines an amazing three-dimensional space, as well as capturing and framing the city in a unique manner. The composition and use of natural stone, wood, and metal as a palette for the terrace works well with the building. The lattice fencing to provide privacy spaces is very tight and less successful.
Very impressive: at once maintaining the urban character of the old brick warehouse street while incorporating a much larger mass and program. At street level it behaves demurely toward its neighbours - including disguising the parking levels above the ground floor - while creating a powerful twin tower silhouette seen from a distance and on axis with Richmond St. W. Thus, it accommodates two urban scales equally well, always a difficult thing to pull off. The courtyard on level six is a memorable semi-public space, very useful, no doubt, to the residents, and a great urban-scaled terrace.
By dividing a conventional double-loaded corridor apartment building into two narrower bars, the District Lofts have created a range of unconventional loft units, some with through ventilation and access to daylight on both the north and south faces. The outdoor terrace on the sixth floor is one of the most interesting spaces in the city. Connected to the fitness centre and party rooms, the terrace creates a sense of openness and community. The handling of the retail base, entrance and above-grade parking creates an effective urban base, raising the residential units above the street where they can have light, air, and views.
There was a time in Toronto - I'm thinking of King's Landing by Arthur Erickson - when semi-public amenities were de rigeur for condominiums. Over time, those important gathering spaces have been whittled away to nothing. This building reverses that pattern with a sixth floor courtyard of monumental scale that offers an outdoor party room and great views out to the city. The Lofts maintain an almost invisible front entrance off a very tight section of Richmond Street East. The impact on the city - the generous cut in the building -- is best appreciated from several blocks away.