Townhouse Podiums

Too many developers claim that their podiums (the part under the “slim” tower above) contain townhouses. They rarely do. They sometimes contain two storey apartments at the ground floor. But most often the podium is simply more apartments, but the balcony being at ground level can have a walk-up feature. Many of these access features are cosmetic and do not contribute to liveliness on the street.

A recent example of developer bumpf regarding townhouses is Taggart claiming they are building townhouses along Norman Street when it looks like, reads like, talks like, and indeed is simply an apartment building with the ground floor units having walk-off balconies.

Our city planners and many architects KNOW what makes for a lively ground floor, but lack the inclination or authority to push for better design.

This blog has previously featured the Argyle Street frontage of Beaver Barracks as an exemplar of ground floor units that really work as street-level houses.

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And I’ve featured others (eg LeBreton Flats, where they don’t, despite incrementally better design in each phase). Where are there others that really work?

While in the GTA earlier this spring, I came across this setup:

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These mod townhouses weren’t just part of the podium, they also ran between the towers too. So they actually met our civilian definition of townhouses as opposed to the legal loophole definition used by city planners. Here’s another view of these Absolute Drive units:

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These units faced the “courtyard” or local-street frontage of the building complex consisting of several high high-rises. The “other” side of the complex faced busy “arterials” (more like traffic sewers) and had commercial frontages, none of which was rented when I was there in May. Indeed, the planners may demand pedestrian walks along the road but that doesn’t make them lively urban streets:

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One thought on “Townhouse Podiums

  1. I did notice a lot of the ground floor units of the Lebreton Flats condos had set out lawn furniture and looked like they were using the lawn between the new firefighter memorial and the condo building as a kind of shared yard.

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