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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Globe & Mail on Friday and National Post have articles about the 11 new condo units to be built at 155 Cumberland in Yorkville (130 Bloor West, above Cartier/Gucci/Hugo etc.). Starting prices: about $4 million to $15 million for Torno Penthouse. most will be $8-9 million, according to National Post article.

Can't fine Globe article online, but I'm posting Nat'l Post article...

New life for city's best condo
Superb units to top Yorkville masterpiece
Kelvin Browne, National Post
Published: Thursday, April 20, 2006

Everyone has a dream home in mind that, were they to win the lottery, they would buy. When I saw Noah Torno's apartment years ago, a two-story moderne masterpiece on top of a small office building at 130 Bloor St. W., it became etched in my mind as the most sophisticated home in Toronto. It became my lottery dream.

When I heard the building was to be redeveloped -- with apartments built atop the most spectacular penthouse in Canada -- my reaction was, "There goes another modern gem." Thanks to King Street Capital Partners (the building's new owners), Brian Curtner of Quadrangle Architects and J.F. Brennan Design Build (responsible for the residential design and finishes), this hasn't happened.

This group is definitely upping the ante when it comes to lottery-win fantasies. Despite six full-floor suites being built above the existing apartment, and four new half-floor suites created from two floors of office below, the Torno apartment will be -- and I know this sounds like PR hyperbole -- better than ever.

If you're walking on Bloor Street by the Colonnade, look across the street, and up, and you'll see some large trees on a rooftop. This is the apartment, or at least the enormous terrace that its living room and library open on to. It was built by financier and developer Noah Torno, and his wife, Rose, in the early 1960s. Mr. Torno said he was inspired to do this by a friend who lived above his store in New York - that store being Bergdorf Goodman. Torno often spoke of the excitement of working with architect Philip Johnson to design his new pad. Torno lived at 155 Cumberland (his entrance was on the other side of the building, and it will be the entrance for all the new apartments as well) until just before his death a couple of years ago (Rose had predeceased him). It has remained unoccupied since.

The design is classic, with all the rooms opening to a two-storey central atrium: high ceilings, perfectly matched Italian marble on floors and walls, and wood panelling from oak logs brought from England and milled specifically for the apartment. With a new kitchen, updated mechanicals and some other cosmetics, it will retain its heritage quality but no one will think they're living in the past. In total, the suite is 10,431 sq. ft., plus 4,830 sq. ft. of terrace. It's listed at $15-million, and it's worth every million.

Oh sure, you're saying, who can't have a nice apartment for that kind of money? But take a look at what sells for multi-millions. They're usually just tarted-up standard apartments. I've even seen more expensive apartments on Fifth and Park avenues in New York and they're not as classy (for lack of a better word) as this.

Making a heritage home look new, be functionally up-to-date, and still retain its charm, is one thing, but the real miracle of the project will be those new six floors (floors 15 to 20), each floor ranging from about 5,000 sq. ft. to more than 6,000 sq. ft. (plus terraces) to be built above the original suite. Brian Curtner has kept the integrity of the Torno place and yet integrated it into a new whole. Recladding the building will help make it look like a sleek new building rather than an older building with a new hat. It's Curtner's design finesse that makes it all work. Major structural engineering will be required to accommodate the new floors and not have steel beams smashing through the offices and retail spaces below

Beginning with a private entrance and lobby off Cumberland, an elevator will take the new owners to their suites. In the new apartments, the ceilings are 12 feet, the terraces are recessed and truly useable (rather than windy balconies good only for drying your hair), and the spaces are orderly and elegant. The full-floor pads are going for $8-million to $9-million.

The finishes will be something else again, but Brennan says it's the architecture that will make these suites stand out. Based on the Torno design, they'll have well-proportioned rooms, often with vistas from one side through to the other (the views are miraculously good everywhere), as well as a sense of scale that few houses in town can match. They're being designed as contemporary spaces, but with such good bones, traditional details such as cornice moldings and columns will sing and not appear overwrought as they can when you slather them throughout small rooms with low ceilings and tiny windows.

It's surprising that exemplary design has taken this long to get to the ultra high-end of the market. But now that it's here, let's appreciate it. And let's get buying those lottery tickets.

© National Post 2006

5,767 Posts
mmm...the Torno penthouse...the best apartment in the city. I remember as a kid visiting my mother's office directly across the street (Britanica Building) and seeing it...looked weird with the trees on the roof of the building.

KingStreet Capital made a wise purchase of the building last bought the 191,000 square foot office tower for $57 million. They had valued the penthouse residence at only $4 million at the time....$15 million will certainly offset the cost of buying the office space. Good investment.

130 Bloor West currently.......


2,681 Posts
Taking a cue from Philip Johnson


From Friday's Globe and Mail

On Yorkville's Cumberland Avenue, there's been a steel gate marked "Private residence" since the early 1960s. A strange thing to see on the side of an office tower, but the mystery wasn't explained until last year: This was the entrance, it turns out, to a unique penthouse apartment that may have been designed by the famous American architect Philip Johnson.

The apartment made the news in the spring when a developer, KingStreet Capital Partners, bought the building. The city and preservationists worried over the future of the penthouse, commissioned by the late businessman and philanthropist Noah Torno. Would it be divided up? Or demolished to make way for a taller structure?

Now, as it turns out, the 10,000-square-foot space will have some company in the sky. It's the crown jewel in an 11-unit condo development named for its private address, 155 Cumberland, and the Torno apartment itself can be yours — for just $15-million.

Builder Joe Brennan, who will create the interiors for the suites, says the apartment makes a powerful sales pitch for the building. "It's really of museum or gallery quality," Mr. Brennan says. "You feel like you've entered a serene, public space rather than a private space."

And this isn't just hype. From the private elevator, the penthouse's two-storey lobby makes quite the impression. Finished with travertine marble from floor to ceiling, the 25-foot-high space is a dead ringer for Mr. Johnson's famous Four Seasons restaurant in New York. And a series of grand, high-ceilinged spaces unfold from there, including an expansive living room and terrace with a killer view of the skyline.

According to the project's architect, the new suites, priced from about $4-million, will have the same height and grandeur, and they'll echo the style of the space as well. "We were very keen on reinforcing the existing penthouse and the existing building, so we used architectural details that were sympathetic to the building as it currently is," says Brian Curtner of Quadrangle Architects. "The modernist style, with large windows and large planes, we've attempted to repeat while building new stuff above and below it."

But while the building's stylistic pedigree is part of the sales pitch, Mr. Johnson's name is curiously absent. That's because, as Mr. Curtner admits, nobody's quite sure whether the architect himself actually created it. "We're still debating," he says. "We have different stories on that part of the puzzle. There's no record in his archives that he worked on it, but there are people involved who insist that he did.

This puts an interesting twist on the City of Toronto's heritage designation for the apartment, which claims a Johnson connection. Luckily, this seems to be a moot point; in the developers' view, as Mr. Curtner says, "the building is spectacular." And the architects' job, in adding 10 new apartments of 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, required them to save as much as possible.

Quadrangle created a highly unusual solution: in essence, 10 storeys of luxury condos on top of an office building. The penthouse on the 13th and 14th floors is being sold more or less intact, and the two floors below — previously office space — cut back to hold four residences with terraces. Stacked on top will be an irregular tower of six more storeys, faced in Indiana limestone, containing full-floor condos with balconies. The private entrance used by Mr. Torno and his wife, Rose, will connect exclusively to the residences and a private parking area underground.

The interiors, naturally, will be highly personalized. "For finishes, we're offering different styles," says Mr. Brennan, the builder to Toronto's elite here and in Florida.

"But lots of people like this look," he says, gesturing to the Torno apartment's library. "It's funny that this was done 40 years ago; it is very contemporary, but they put in a parquet de Versailles floor."

Indeed, the apartment has an interesting mix of classical French elements in a very modernist structure. Whether or not it's the work of Mr. Johnson, one of the 20th century's leading tastemakers, it's a fascinating time capsule.

The Tornos were society figures, and the grand public rooms (the 600-square-foot living room is bigger than some condos) suggest they liked to entertain. Elaborate built-ins offer a place for everything, including reel-to-reel tapes (the stereo speakers, built in, are still there). Upstairs are separate en suites: His offers a bathtub lined with travertine, while she gets a shower (and a dressing room with seven double closets). Even the original Moffat stoves (and a very early dishwasher) remain in the kitchen.

No doubt the new owners will want to see a few things updated, and Mr. Brennan is waiting for their input. Once they pay the price of $1,500 a square foot, that is, a figure that Mr. Brennan says is comparable to penthouses a block away in Yorkville. Considering that four of the 11 units sold before real estate firm Chestnut Park officially opened the doors, it seems the Tornos' way of living sends a powerful message. As Mr. Brennan puts it, "It'll be a lucky person to live in this suite."

5,767 Posts
"at the very least design them so that fit with the existing structure"

Yea, this addition doesn't look so hot at least from that pic. This is a fairly good looking early 60's international style building...if yer gonna add significant amounts to the top of it, it should compliment it in some way. Trying to copy it excactly won't work, so something different yet complimentary would work...not sure this is it. Not even sure it can be done tastefully...maybe this is a job for something totally avante guarde by a great architect....don't see the problem, given the price range of these units.

But the previous owners did a terrible reno of the first floor a while back...very luxo for big ticket retailers (Gucci, Hugo Hugo Boss, etc) just clashed so badly with the clean international style of the building.


35 Posts
Condos going over the top, of penthouse
Six floors to be built above posh building
Price said to be $1,500 per square foot

Jul. 15, 2006. 01:00 AM

A platoon of construction workers will spend the next three years on a project high above the intersection of Bloor and Cumberland Sts. that will give 11 new condo owners a view worthy of cashing in RRSPs and emptying one's offshore accounts.

In the process the $50-million venture will modify the skyline of the Bloor-Yorkville district and stretch the envelope for how downtown infill condominiums are built.

The KingStreet Capital Group and Quadrangle Architects are about to begin the dramatic reconfiguration of a downtown building that houses gilt-edged stores, executive offices and a city-designated historic penthouse. If all goes as planned, the consortium will update the building, surgically carve up its 11th and 12th floors and then, without substantially disturbing the two-storey penthouse above it, add six floors of condos. The south face of the 14-storey CIL Building at 130 Bloor St. W. (between Avenue Rd. and Bay St.) houses Gucci, Cartier and a new Lululemon outlet. The north face, at 153 Cumberland St, is home to Hugo Boss and Nicolas Men's and Women's Wear. Upstairs, there are offices for a range of blue chip renters, including the College of Chiropractors, the French and Russian consulates, and the Bronfman-controlled Comweb Group Inc. (a motion picture support company).

It was the Bronfman family that financed the construction of the CIL Building back in 1960.

"The celebrated American architect Philip Johnson is credited with the interior design of the two-storey penthouse," reads a 2005 City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties report.

"Noah Torno, the president of Jordan-Danforth Wines, occupied the suite. A prominent Toronto businessman and philanthropist, he served as a director of numerous wine and spirits producers, including (Bronfman's) Distillers Corp.-Seagrams Ltd., Carling O'Keefe and Hiram Walker."

Noah and his wife, Rose, were the toast of the town throughout the latter part of the 20th century. They helped in the development of the Mount Sinai Hospital, the O'Keefe Centre (now the Hummingbird Centre) and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. As the president of the board of directors of the Royal Ontario Museum, Torno was instrumental in organizing the "Genius of China" exhibit in 1974.

In their day, the Tornos feted the rich and famous in their huge wood-panelled penthouse. With an outdoor Japanese garden, a forest of potted trees and a south-facing view of the city worthy of a postcard, their residence was quite simply an indoor/outdoor work of architectural art.

Rose Torno died in 2002, her husband two years later, and their home has been empty ever since.

Last year, the building was sold for $58 million to KingStreet Capital, a Toronto-based real estate investment firm.

Shortly afterward, the city moved to protect the penthouse and placed the top two floors of the CIL building on its Inventory of Heritage Properties.

"The Tornos had a private entrance at 155 Cumberland," explains Brian Curtner co-founder of Quadrangle Architects. "You can see the walkway's iron grille between the theatre (Cumberland) and the Hugo Boss outlet.

"Befitting the type of people who will purchase the condos, the project isn't going to have a glitzy name; it will simply be called 155 Cumberland."

Curtner and his staff of 70 have produced some of the edgiest reconstruction work in the city. The BMW building off the Don Valley Parkway, the Citytv building and the Candy Factory Lofts condominium project, both on Queen St. W., have made the 55-year-old American-born, Canadian- and British-trained architect as the go-to guy for eye-popping conversions.

Despite all the company's many successes, the CIL building is going to be a challenge. The firm's design calls for the construction of a six-storey building on top of a 45-year-old building without damaging the 10,000-square-foot Torno penthouse, overly disturbing the office tenants and blocking traffic on two of Canada's most prestigious retail streets.

"Our firm has done a lot of "adaptive reuse" in the city," Curtner says. "We have learned how to capitalize on the inherent qualities of a building. The art is to turn a building into something exciting instead of simply tearing it down."

The project begins almost immediately. The first step will be an upgrade of the building's first dozen floors, including modernizing the water and power system. The building will work with the ground-first floor stores along Bloor and Cumberland Sts. to add a "wow" factor to the redesign of the retail space.

The penthouse sits on top of a standard box-shaped office building. That's about to change. Demolition experts will snip away about a third of the top two levels of the box (Floors 11 and 12) to allow for the conversion of the old space into two terraced residential floors. The office space on these floors will be replaced by four condos — each half the size of what is left on each floor.

The unit designs will be created by J.F. Brennan Design/Build Inc. and prices begin at a reported $4 million to $5 million, with the original Torno penthouse expected to fetch $15 million.

The removal of a portion of the top two floors has the added effect of creating enough space for a large crane to be placed on the exposed roof of the 10th floor. The crane will be used to bring materials up from Bloor St. as the project enters its construction phase. In all likelihood, a self-rising crane will grow upward as six more floors are stacked overtop the penthouse (Floors 13 and 14).

"There is considerable weight being added to the structure," Curtner says. " The building will have to be strengthened before additional floors can be put on."

Each floor of the existing building has been constructed with a series of upright steel I-beams that carry the load of the units above it. Engineers have identified which steel struts must be strengthened before the condo-cap phase can begin.

"We will be going into the offices at night and on weekends, exposing the I-beams and welding plates onto each strut," Curtner says. The I shape will be squared by the addition of the metal plates. As well, cross shaped steel strapping will be welded to the reinforced beams to give it added strength. The outside walls of the existing building will be braced too. The building must be toughened so it can handle the weight of both the crane and the tonnes of steel, tinted glass and Indiana limestone slabs that will be lifted up from street level. The construction crew will have access to the rising building through an elevator that will be built through an existing electrical shaft in the middle of 130 Bloor St. W.

The roof of the penthouse will have a transfer truss installed so that what is essentially a separate building can be built overtop.

"With that transfer truss, we will also be putting in some isolation pads, so that the noise and the vibration from the lower floors will be eliminated," Curtner explains. "The pads are important because the building is overtop the Bloor subway line."

Once constructed, the new six-floor asymmetrical tower will be faced in Indiana limestone. Each floor will be a single condo ranging from 5,000 to 6,000 square feet. Each unit will have 11-foot-high ceilings and large protected terraces overlooking Bloor and Cumberland Sts.

The new residents will use a private elevator with access off Cumberland St. There is a parking garage under the building. J.F. Brennan Design Build Inc., one of the top custom residential builders in Toronto and Palm Beach, Fla., will customize the private residences. Chestnut Park Real Estate is handling the sale of 11 units. Although the consortium is reluctant to talk about prices and sales data, it appears that even at a price rumoured to be $1,500 a square foot, four units already have committed buyers.

"We do know it will be the most expensive condominium in the city, maybe even in the country," Curtner says. " But, in terms of the square-foot charges, we are comparable with other projects in Yorkville."

Architect Brian Curtner, showing a city view, will oversee the conversion of the building.

130 Bloor Street West

Premium Member
79,182 Posts
I'd kill to see inside that unit. We will be watching this development closely. I wonder how extensively they will be redoing the face of the building at street level. I wish Cartier would make their facade a little more, well... luxe. It is pleasant looking but not
like Cartier's I have seen in some other cities. The Gucci front is pleasant as well.
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