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High Park to High Rises: Toronto's Starchitecture

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Toronto boasts unique, often polarizing buildings designed by architects who aren't interested in stamping out the same old same old. Just consider the wildly-diverging opinions on buildings like Daniel Libeskind's ROM Crystal, Will Alsop's OCAD tabletop-on-coloured-pencils, and most recently Frank Gehry's enormously ambitious project for David Mirvish on King Street West (that one's already on its umpteenth revision; who knows what Gehry's going to shake out next?). To give you an idea of the calibre of Toronto's notable architecture, old and new, check out our map. Suggestions? Comments? Diatribes? Let 'em fly in the comments, or drop a note to our tipline.


· Toronto's most influential buildings [Toronto Star]
· Starchitecture on Curbed National [Curbed]

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1. Mirvish+Gehry Towers

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260 King Street West, Toronto
ON M5V 1H8, Canada

It's shrunk from three buildings to two, and the eerie cloud at the base is gone, but Frank Gehry's King West project for David Mirvish is still very much alive. At 82 and 92 storeys, the controversial towers will still be taller than anything around them.

2. OCAD's Sharp Centre

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100 McCaul St, Toronto
ON M5T 1W1, Canada
(416) 977-6000
Visit Website

Will Alsop's deisgn has been called a lot of things—the crossword box, the pencil-legged table, "that hideous thing"—but OCAD's students and neighbours are grudgingly fond of it, as are a lot of architecture critics.

3. Alaska Condos

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2779 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M4N 2J2, Canada

Neighbours in staid Lawrence Park are up in arms about Will Alsop/Quadrangle's Alaska condos. The bold design and huge footprint are seen as jarring and incongruous in the UMC enclave of single-family homes.

4. Art Gallery of Ontario

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317 Dundas St. W, Toronto
ON M5T 1G4, Canada
(416) 979-6648
Visit Website

Frank Gehry's AGO addition is a lacy frame of pale wood and glass that curves out over Dundas Street like a billowing sail. On sunny days the interior of the Galleria Italia can feel a little like being under a heat-focusing lens, but the acoustics of the room are worth the sweat. Don't miss climbing the amazing Baroque Stair that sweeps up through the gallery.

5. Royal Ontario Museum

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100 Queen's Pk., Toronto
ON M5S 2C6, Canada
(416) 586-8000
Visit Website

Daniel Libeskind had to back off from his original, glassier design for the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal; it was deemed unsuitable for Toronto's unpredictable climate. The version that was eventually built still uses a lot of glass, but it's dispersed through a whole lot of aluminum cladding. The result: polarized opinions and a lot of controversy. At least you can see the dinosaurs from the street.

6. TD Centre

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100 Wellington West, Toronto
ON M5H 2E9, Canada

The TD Centre is the only Mies van der Rohe building in Toronto, and one of just a handful in Canada (including a gas station on Nun's Island, just outside Montreal).

7. L Tower

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22 The Esplanade, Toronto
ON, Canada

Daniel Libeskind's L Tower condo jabs up through the city like a carving knife: it's the most striking highrise yet in the city. The L Tower (its profile is, naturally, L-shaped) should be complete and move-in ready later this year.

8. College Park

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21 College St., Toronto
ON M9V 1H5, Canada

College Park is considered an Art Deco masterpiece. It was commissioned by Lady Eaton in the 30s, and was originally the home of Eaton's flagship store as well as their corporate offices, a posh restaurant and an auditorium. When the store moved to the Eaton Centre in 1977, College Park began to decline and was nearly demolished. Fortunately, it was preserved. The restored 7th floor is now the Carlu, an event space.

9. Monde Condo

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291 Lakeshore Blvd East, Toronto
ON, Canada

Monde is Moshe Safdie's first residential project since his Habitat '67 complex, built for Montreal's 1967 World's Fair. Monde will be a 40-storey tower at the base of Sherbourne Street, overlooking the lake and the Eastern Port Lands.

10. Eden Smith Home

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267 Indian Road, Toronto
ON M6R, Canada

Canada's most well-known contributor to the Arts & Crafts movement built this home for his family in 1896. It sold last year for $1,169,000 (the most ever paid for a house in the area that has no parking).

11. Studio Building

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25 Severn Street, Toronto
ON M4W 1M7, Canada

Another Eden Smith building, the Studio Building was commissioned by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris for use by cronies. In 1948 Harris sold the building to artist Gordon MacNamara, who lived in it until he died in 2006. It's now owned by his estate; its future is uncertain.

12. Commerce Court West

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199 Bay St., Toronto
ON M5L 1L5, Canada

One of only two I.M. Pei buildings in Canada (the other is Place Ville Marie, in Montreal). The International-style Commerce Court West was built in 1973, and sits across Bay Street from Mies's TD Centre.

13. Torno Penthouse

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155 Cumberland Street, Toronto
ON M5R 1A2, Canada

Designed by Philip Johnson as a side project when he was in Toronto working on other buildings, the Cumberland Street penthouse recently sold for around $19,000,000.

14. CBC Broadcast Centre

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250 Front St W, Toronto
ON M5W 1E6, Canada
(416) 205-3311
Visit Website

Designed by Philip Johnson and completed in 1992, the CBC head office brought together the production studios and offices that had been spread all over the city. The enormous Barbara Frum atrium is a big hit with most people; the bathroom-tile-reminiscent exterior less so.

1. Mirvish+Gehry Towers

260 King Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1H8, Canada

It's shrunk from three buildings to two, and the eerie cloud at the base is gone, but Frank Gehry's King West project for David Mirvish is still very much alive. At 82 and 92 storeys, the controversial towers will still be taller than anything around them.

260 King Street West, Toronto
ON M5V 1H8, Canada

2. OCAD's Sharp Centre

100 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T 1W1, Canada

Will Alsop's deisgn has been called a lot of things—the crossword box, the pencil-legged table, "that hideous thing"—but OCAD's students and neighbours are grudgingly fond of it, as are a lot of architecture critics.

100 McCaul St, Toronto
ON M5T 1W1, Canada

3. Alaska Condos

2779 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4N 2J2, Canada

Neighbours in staid Lawrence Park are up in arms about Will Alsop/Quadrangle's Alaska condos. The bold design and huge footprint are seen as jarring and incongruous in the UMC enclave of single-family homes.

2779 Yonge Street, Toronto
ON M4N 2J2, Canada

4. Art Gallery of Ontario

317 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON M5T 1G4, Canada

Frank Gehry's AGO addition is a lacy frame of pale wood and glass that curves out over Dundas Street like a billowing sail. On sunny days the interior of the Galleria Italia can feel a little like being under a heat-focusing lens, but the acoustics of the room are worth the sweat. Don't miss climbing the amazing Baroque Stair that sweeps up through the gallery.

317 Dundas St. W, Toronto
ON M5T 1G4, Canada

5. Royal Ontario Museum

100 Queen's Pk., Toronto, ON M5S 2C6, Canada

Daniel Libeskind had to back off from his original, glassier design for the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal; it was deemed unsuitable for Toronto's unpredictable climate. The version that was eventually built still uses a lot of glass, but it's dispersed through a whole lot of aluminum cladding. The result: polarized opinions and a lot of controversy. At least you can see the dinosaurs from the street.

100 Queen's Pk., Toronto
ON M5S 2C6, Canada

6. TD Centre

100 Wellington West, Toronto, ON M5H 2E9, Canada

The TD Centre is the only Mies van der Rohe building in Toronto, and one of just a handful in Canada (including a gas station on Nun's Island, just outside Montreal).

100 Wellington West, Toronto
ON M5H 2E9, Canada

7. L Tower

22 The Esplanade, Toronto, ON, Canada

Daniel Libeskind's L Tower condo jabs up through the city like a carving knife: it's the most striking highrise yet in the city. The L Tower (its profile is, naturally, L-shaped) should be complete and move-in ready later this year.

22 The Esplanade, Toronto
ON, Canada

8. College Park

21 College St., Toronto, ON M9V 1H5, Canada

College Park is considered an Art Deco masterpiece. It was commissioned by Lady Eaton in the 30s, and was originally the home of Eaton's flagship store as well as their corporate offices, a posh restaurant and an auditorium. When the store moved to the Eaton Centre in 1977, College Park began to decline and was nearly demolished. Fortunately, it was preserved. The restored 7th floor is now the Carlu, an event space.

21 College St., Toronto
ON M9V 1H5, Canada

9. Monde Condo

291 Lakeshore Blvd East, Toronto, ON, Canada

Monde is Moshe Safdie's first residential project since his Habitat '67 complex, built for Montreal's 1967 World's Fair. Monde will be a 40-storey tower at the base of Sherbourne Street, overlooking the lake and the Eastern Port Lands.

291 Lakeshore Blvd East, Toronto
ON, Canada

10. Eden Smith Home

267 Indian Road, Toronto, ON M6R, Canada

Canada's most well-known contributor to the Arts & Crafts movement built this home for his family in 1896. It sold last year for $1,169,000 (the most ever paid for a house in the area that has no parking).

267 Indian Road, Toronto
ON M6R, Canada

11. Studio Building

25 Severn Street, Toronto, ON M4W 1M7, Canada

Another Eden Smith building, the Studio Building was commissioned by Group of Seven member Lawren Harris for use by cronies. In 1948 Harris sold the building to artist Gordon MacNamara, who lived in it until he died in 2006. It's now owned by his estate; its future is uncertain.

25 Severn Street, Toronto
ON M4W 1M7, Canada

12. Commerce Court West

199 Bay St., Toronto, ON M5L 1L5, Canada

One of only two I.M. Pei buildings in Canada (the other is Place Ville Marie, in Montreal). The International-style Commerce Court West was built in 1973, and sits across Bay Street from Mies's TD Centre.

199 Bay St., Toronto
ON M5L 1L5, Canada

13. Torno Penthouse

155 Cumberland Street, Toronto, ON M5R 1A2, Canada

Designed by Philip Johnson as a side project when he was in Toronto working on other buildings, the Cumberland Street penthouse recently sold for around $19,000,000.

155 Cumberland Street, Toronto
ON M5R 1A2, Canada

14. CBC Broadcast Centre

250 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5W 1E6, Canada

Designed by Philip Johnson and completed in 1992, the CBC head office brought together the production studios and offices that had been spread all over the city. The enormous Barbara Frum atrium is a big hit with most people; the bathroom-tile-reminiscent exterior less so.

250 Front St W, Toronto
ON M5W 1E6, Canada