The Art of Architecture in Today’s Condominiums

In Toronto, condominiums are
flourishing as the new home choice of
residents and investors. Condos are
also helping to fuel the renters’ market,
and the appeal is understandable.
Living in one of these new buildings
brings with it a lifestyle of ease, leisure
and even artistic ambience.
One of the most beautiful aspects of
newer architecture in Toronto is the
outstanding public art included in
condo design. Recognizing the
importance of a vibrant cultural
community in maintaining healthy
municipalities, the City of Toronto
developed a policy called ‘Percent for
Public Art’ to support the inclusion of
art in major private sector
The program recommends that a
minimum of one per cent of the gross
construction cost of each development
go toward this purpose. Developers
across Toronto have embraced the
recommendation, with
remarkable works of art
adorning their street-level
frontages and courtyards. The
idea is that publicly accessible
art benefits residents and
visitors alike, which is an
intriguing thought for rental
buildings as well.
Toronto’s model for making it
all happen involves a
collaborative process among
developers, their marketing
staffs, sales, public relations
(PR) and agencies. They work
together to determine that the
art selected will communicate
an appropriate and
complimentary message. The
art must also enhance its
surroundings, speak to the
sensibilities of purchasers and
satisfy the criteria set by City
Planning and a citizen advisory
group. Toronto’s system of checks and
balances is in place to ensure that the
work selected is appropriate, within a
workable budget and completion
schedule, and that the process for
selecting the artist and work is done in
a fair and professional manner.
It truly is a team effort, and over the
years, tcgpr has been involved in
promoting the art for numerous
developers. It is always a fascinating
element of our strategically-planned PR
programs and provides genuine news
pegs within our overall assignments.
In a nutshell, people respond positively
to public art.
Ultimately, the artistic choice marries
art, architecture, engineering and
psychology. Our goal is to convey a
multi-faceted message – this is what our client’s condominium is about,
what our area is about and what
Toronto is about. Our clients research
the artists who work in the appropriate
media and determine the best way to
make a final selection. This can vary
from competitions to direct
The results, more often than not, are
stunning. Here are a few of my
• The Daniels Corporation’s Cinema
Tower at King & John Sts. for
example, features “Strata” at its
entrance. This metaphorical piece
resembles a core sample of
geology pulled up from the earth.
The sculpture, by artist Peter
Powning, who also created the
multimedia installation in the
lobby of Festival Tower (TIFF Bell
Lightbox) next door. The Festival
Tower entrance is also graced with
the 1,400-pound blue sculpture
“Things End” by local artist James
Carl. This playful take on the rubber
band represents the creativity in
Toronto’s Entertainment District.
• Another example of a developer
factoring in a love of fine art to a
project is demonstrated by
Graywood Development Ltd’s
President Garnet Watchorn, who
worked with a Toronto art
consultant and personally selected
the high-quality Canadian art
displayed throughout The Ritz-
Carlton Hotel and the Residences
in Toronto. His passion for the
support of fine art was also to give
the selected Canadian artists
further recognition for their talent.
• Facing St. James Park, the striking
Brick Man towers is part of Aspen
Ridge’s award-winning VÜ
condominium community in the
heart of downtown Toronto. And at
Aspen Ridge’s Studio 2 on
Richmond, the condo complex will
include an 8,000 sq. ft. facility for
OCAD U to use as a public art
gallery and restaurant.
• Menkes enlisted artist Linda Covit
for two of its properties, Luxe
Condominiums and Four Seasons
Hotel and Private Residences
Toronto. The Luxe art consists of
large stainless steel backlit cut-outs
of indigenous plants and flowers
adorning the condominium’s
canopy and planters. To enhance
the Four Seasons Toronto
courtyard, Covit is working on the
theme of roses, a popular flower of
the Victorian era.
• To comply with Toronto’s Public
Art program, EL-AD Group’s
Emerald City Condominiums
community will feature a series of
installations by Canadian novelist
and visual artist Douglas Coupland
– the first major permanent public
art project in Toronto’s Ward 33-
Don Valley East.
• And it’s not just the City of Toronto
where all this is happening.
Take Mississauga, where the Gothicinspired
One Park Tower in
Daniels’ City Centre has
architecture that incorporates eight
massive gargoyles.
In our view, those developers who
support and commit with passion to an
artistic component demonstrate a clear
definition of Public Relations, simply
put … “Doing Good, And Getting Credit
For It.”
They also serve as role models for
rental apartment building owners and
developers, who may consider adding
public art to enhance their residences.
FRPO Member David Eisenstadt is
Founding Partner of tcgpr (PR
Consultants to News MakersTM),
Toronto-based, PR consultants serving
Canadian and multi-national clients
coast-to-coast (

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