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The huge new condo project at Toronto's Garrison Point makes a virtue of a challenging site

Two towers 'like imaginative abstract sculpture'

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Garrison Point aerial site rendering. Hariri Pontarini Architects faced placing a residential project on a geometrically challenged spot in downtown Toronto. The proposed heights for two of the eventual five towers planned for the site are 35 and 29 storeys. Together, they will contain 684 units ranging in size from 511 square feet to 1,300 square feet. Town homes are available, and they vary in area from 1,170 to 2,080 square feet. Advertised prices for apartments start at around $550 a square foot.

Norm Li

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The financial partners in Garrison Point are Cityzen, Fernbrook Homes and DiamondCorp. These conspicuous players in the local real-estate market – all three have sponsored architecturally significant condominium towers – cobbled together Garrison Point’s wedge-shaped site from bits and pieces of old industrial land at the junction of two rail lines immediately east of Liberty Village. Both lines carry GO commuter trains. One will be the route of the express transport connecting Union Station and Pearson Airport, which suggests that anyone thinking of taking up residence in Garrison Point should be a fan of the railways, since he will have trains on two sides.

Norm Li

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One problem that commonly afflicts such unusual spots in the urban fabric, and that makes them less than desirable for housing, is the sense that they’re isolated dead-ends. The thoughtful master-plan for the site of Garrison Point, which has been crafted by Urban Strategies, the private city-design group, proposes to remedy the situation by first, enhancing little Ordnance Street, which exists now as a rough, rubbly extension of East Liberty Street, in order to link better the buildings to Strachan Avenue and Liberty Village beyond. Secondly by creating a path that would run across the park projected for the site’s eastern extent – the sharp end of the wedge – and connect with city-owned pedestrian bridges bounding over the railway corridors to public green spaces on both sides.

Norm Li

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Instead of shoe-horning ordinary square or oblong blocks into the irregular site, the architects have decided to celebrate the place’s irregularity by structuring it right in. The light exterior surfaces bend and shift, sharp edges are sliced away. Each tower appears to be composed of two jauntily different vertical slabs that have been joined and put on a low pedestal, like imaginative abstract sculpture.

Norm Li

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Interior rendering for one of the first two towers.

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