I hope that many readers of this blog also read the comments. Most of them are really good, some rise to absolute excellence (and that’s not just because I agree with the writer …). I will not repeat the material submitted in comments as a “post”; I prefer to write new stuff each day. And there’s too many good comments anyway.
In discussing Soho Italia, the 35 storey small-lot condo proposed for 500 Preston, I lamented that it did not relate well nor contribute to sidewalk life. This ignited a debate amongst readers. Some people prefer the “courtyard” approach whereby condo buildings are woven in with grassy yards, trees, and walkways.
While the LeBreton Flats projects by Claridge and NCC have seen lots of negative commentary, they are following the courtyard approach. Both Flats pictures emphasize the tall towers; but on site the overall impression is of 6 storey buildings with the taller towers set back (at least on some sides) from the podium buildings.
These are the tallest towers planned for the Flats (until Claridge gets them up-scaled, something they have already achieved with the growth spurt on the next phase going from 4 to 6 and now 8 floors. Most of the next few phases are supposed to be four and sixish-floors; the tallest towers are on the perimeter of the complex.
Like the proposed Preston Soho Italia, we have to simultaneously look at the merits of what is proposed now and what is likely to come. The Flats has such a plan in place, one can look to the future with reasonable confidence; the south end of Preston does not.
The south end of Preston along Carling might well look very cool with a bunch of “Vancouver style” point towers, as the Soho architect Rod Lahey advocates. But Vancouver had an overall plan, right down to establishing and preserving sight lines so that new towers don’t block out the previous ones. Public spaces were planned in from day one, and were NOT relegated to be little bits of space left glued to the curbs.
I have previously suggested to Arnon, Mastercraft, Domicile, and the City that what we need for the O-train corridor and the Carling end (it was obvious for years that the Honda dealership will be multiple towers someday, and the Esso lot will be developed, and 500 Preston has been scheduled for a tower…) is the establishment of sight lines and some planning for tall buildings.
But alas, the Councillors don’t want to admit that tall is likely to happen; the City constantly delays and frustrates the Community Development Plan (until all the lots are approved/developed?); and the developers are betting they can do better — in the short term — by going it alone. As for the residents that will be left with the results… no one gives a damn. It’s all short-term reaction and avoidance of planning.