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Philip Johnson penthouse in jeapardy

2148 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  KGB
There is an almost unknown penthouse structure designed by the architect on top of an international-style office building on Bloor. I remember seeing it from the office window across the street where my mother worked many years ago (the Britanica Building). And I also remember the gates to a private walkway that lead to the separate elevator that lead to the roof-top of Cumberland.

Oxford Developments, who owns the building, is considering subdividing the large two-story penthouse into smaller units, destroying it's integrity. Hopefully, a wealthy person who appreciates the intact design will just buy it and keep it as is.

The story from the Star.....


City wants unique penthouse saved
Designed by late renowned architect

Building's owner may subdivide suite


A Toronto city councillor and the city's heritage preservation board are trying to protect an unusual Yorkville penthouse apartment designed by the late U.S. architect Philip Johnson.

The board gave approval earlier this month to add to the city's list of heritage properties the luxurious apartment, built in 1960 for Noah Torno and his wife Rose.

The Tornos hired Johnson — considered among the greats of U.S. architecture — in the late 1950s to design their home on top of the CIL Building at 130 Bloor St. W., near Avenue Rd. The two-storey apartment is reached by a private elevator entrance off Cumberland Ave.

Councillor Kyle Rae, (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) who sits on the board and represents the area, said he's concerned that the building's owner, Oxford Properties, may divide the apartment — reportedly between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet — into smaller units.

A spokesperson for Oxford could not be reached yesterday.

William Thorsell, head of the Royal Ontario Museum, spent time in the Torno apartment and said it would be "a shame" to subdivide it.

"It's one of the finest private residences in Toronto," he said. "Everything was done absolutely right at that apartment, every drawer."

Thorsell said he saw the apartment after a lunch with Noah Torno, who was a former chair of the museum.

"It's the scale of the place, the simplicity of it," that made the place special, he said.

Rae admitted that it's unusual for the board to provide heritage designation to only part of a building. "But this is a unique situation. The building itself is not unique — but in fact the apartment is."

Thorsell agreed: "Toronto is a big city with a lot of very worldly and wealthy people who might be interested in buying or renting the apartment whole."

Torno, who died last year, was a prominent businessman who served as director with a number of large companies, including Seagram's and Canada Trust. He was also a director of Mount Sinai hospital. Rose Torno, who died in 2002, was a lawyer who founded the women's auxiliary at Mount Sinai. The couple were known as a cultured pair who enjoyed travel — Rose was known to keep a duplicate wardrobe at the couple's apartment in New York City so she could travel light.

Of the Torno apartment, architect Michael McClelland said that "to have an intact design by (Johnson) is extremely important and it would be something that's of national significance."

Heritage designation must be approved by city council but only provides about 220 days of protection to the property, Rae said. Permanent protection can be granted only by the province.

With files from Jen Gerson


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