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Old February 24th, 2006, 07:21 AM   #1
hkskyline
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Bill Pedersen in Toronto - Tall Buildings Have to be Social Animals

Architect's lowdown on loving high-rises:
'Tall buildings have to be more social, less insular'

National Post
27 January 2006

Tall buildings, says Bill Pedersen, the New York architect, have to be social animals. They should welcome the public and fit in with their surroundings. They should be landmarks that help people find their way around town. And if they are, we will love them rather than loathe them.

"If tall buildings are going to participate in the community of structures, they have to be more social, less insular," Mr. Pedersen, one of three founders of the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, said in Toronto yesterday.

"Tall buildings have been victimized for lack of ability to be part of urban life, but it doesn't have to be so."

Mr. Pedersen grew up in Minnesota. He has spent the past 40 years in New York City. Yet these days he's more often on the road, designing towers such as the World Financial Centre, a 120-storey tower in Shanghai, the First Hawaiian Bank in Honolulu, Posteel, in Seoul, and now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and residences, next to the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto.

Yesterday morning found the architect holding court over tea and a remarkable heap of cookies and croissants in the sumptuously appointed kitchen of the Ritz model suite at 288 Wellington St. W.

This swanky model misses no detail; even the washroom boasts a Kohler toilet and Scottish triple-milled soap.

On Wednesday night, about 70 potential purchasers of this Graywood/Cadillac Fairview/Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., LLC co-production attended Mr. Pedersen's talk on the project, which will have 267 hotel rooms on floors six through 20, and 153 residences on the 23rd through 52nd floors. Prices start at $900,000. Mr. Pedersen said the project is 40% to 50% sold.

Because people will pay more for a higher floor, the architect designed a building that curves outward, with floorplates that grow bigger as it rises.

"One has to defy the laws of gravity to accomplish one's objectives," he said. "We'll get a lot more money from the space at the top, so maybe it's worth the expense to get the cantilever." The architects say they can achieve this simply by adding more reinforcement to the concrete.

(One trick to such a building, however, is washing the windows: the architects plan a track down the building's face on which a window washer can descend.)

At the building's base is a box that juts out, cantilevered toward Wellington Street, beckoning the public.

"This is a building that defines the old traditional scale of the city -- six storeys," he says. "When you're down on the street, you won't even notice the tower very much."

Asked what he thought of the building frenzy around Toronto these days, with the recent addition of several chunky concrete condo towers, Mr. Pedersen declined to critique the competition.

"The bar is naturally set higher by people putting up buildings like this," he said. "In New York, we're finding that people want to live in a building that's distinctive."

Mr. Pedersen notes that Toronto's tower-building boom will likely continue.

"North Americans aren't very comfortable in the city," he said. "Here in Toronto, people are pouring in from Asia, where they love to live next to each other. There is incredible density in Tokyo, but people move like schools of fish. They just swim by each other."
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Old February 24th, 2006, 07:59 AM   #2
DrJoe
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Quote:
"North Americans aren't very comfortable in the city," he said. "Here in Toronto, people are pouring in from Asia, where they love to live next to each other. There is incredible density in Tokyo, but people move like schools of fish. They just swim by each other."
Wrong. Its immigrants who are trying to get out, own a piece of the suburban life. Generally speaking its the already established folks who are driving Toronto's condo boom.

He has also equated America with Canada when he sais "North Americans". Canadian cities have never had trouble keeping people downtown.
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Old February 24th, 2006, 05:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJoe
Wrong. Its immigrants who are trying to get out, own a piece of the suburban life. Generally speaking its the already established folks who are driving Toronto's condo boom.

He has also equated America with Canada when he sais "North Americans". Canadian cities have never had trouble keeping people downtown.
The largest redevelopment project in downtown Toronto right now is led by Hong Kong investors - Cityplace. There is a significant amount of Asian investor activity in that condo development driving sales. While Asian communities are embracing suburban life, the traditional ethnic enclaves in the city centre are still alive and vibrant.
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