Shock and awe as Aura ascends

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Aura condos at College Park

The overhang extends nearly the length of the podium along Yonge Street …

 

Aura condos at College Park

… and is quickly being filled in as the tower gradually climbs higher above it

 

Aura condos at College Park

Meanwhile, cladding is being installed on tower floors above the podium …

 

Aura condos at College Park

… including Aura’s northwest corner, seen here from the College Park courtyard …

 

Aura condos at College Park

… while the west wing of the podium, seen here from the Barbara Ann Scott Rink at College Park, is nearly all glassed in on the north side …

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Aura condos at College Park

… with installation of its glass and stone cladding (under the blue plastic) coming along on the podium’s west wall, seen here from Gerrard Street

 

Strong reaction: People make interesting remarks when they pass me while I’m taking photos outside construction sites. Some passersby observe how fast a building is going up, others tell me they’re amazed by the rapid pace and sheer volume of condo construction in Toronto, and some say they can’t imagine how different downtown is going to look in a few years’ time. Few mention anything positive about the architecture, but “it’s just another big glass box” is a common complaint. So is “these towers all look the same.” But I’ve noticed something curious about the comments I overhear whenever I take pictures of Aura Condos at College Park. The building that claims bragging rights to the title of Canada’s tallest residential tower (it will eventually top off at a soaring 78 storeys) tends to attract a particularly strong and overwhelmingly negative visceral reaction.

 

 ‘Ugly,’ ‘too big’ and ‘too much glass’

People not only seem awed by the building’s immense size (so far), but also utterly shocked by the way it looks — and construction crews still have about 70 storeys left to build. I couldn’t begin to count the number of times passersby have said Aura’s podium is “way too big,” features “too much glass,” stands “too close to the sidewalk,” “totally dominates the area,” or “doesn’t belong on Yonge Street.” I hear  “awful,” “hideous,” “horrible,” “grotesque,” “monstrous,” and “ugly” used to describe Aura more frequently than any other building — often with the F-word and other colourful profanities added to give opinions more punch. Then there’s the handful of strangers who have paused beside me and asked, while shaking their heads and scowling as they look at Aura across the street: “What the hell were they thinking?” I’m never quite sure if they’re referring to the city planners and politicians who approved the project, or to the developers and architects who conceived it. Perhaps they mean both.

Personally, I’d prefer to wait and see how Aura looks and, more importantly, feel its street-level impact on the Yonge & Gerrard area once it’s fully completed and occupied, before passing final judgment on the design. But based on what I see so far, and how I feel whenever I walk past the building, I must admit I’m inclined to agree with the critics. Below are more photos I shot of Aura yesterday afternoon. I’m keen to hear what you think.

For the record, Aura is a project of Canderel Stoneridge, and was designed by Graziani + Corazza Architects of Mississauga.

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Aura viewed from the southeast corner of Yonge & Gerrard Streets

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012:  Looking up the south side of Aura from Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Another view up the building’s south side

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Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Construction platforms extend from the side of the building as tower floors are poured

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Steel beams poke through cladding on the building’s south side; they’ll hold up the protective overhang that will be installed above Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Cladding and more overhang supports near the southwest corner of the tower base above Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: The southwest side of the podium along Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Glass and stone cladding on the podium’s southwest corner

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A view of Aura, looking east along Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Northwest view of Aura from the College Park courtyard behind the Barbara Ann Scott Rink

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Glass cladding on some of the lower tower floors above the podium

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: The northwest corner of Aura’s podium, overlooking the College Park courtyard and Barbara Ann Scott Rink

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: East view of Aura from the College Park courtyard

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Cladding hasn’t yet been installed along the podium’s ground floor; seen here at the northwest corner

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Podium cladding reflects the nearby College Park Suites apartment building that is part of the College Park complex

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A section of the podium’s west wall awaits its cladding

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Another view of the west wall, with the Delta Chelsea Hotel providing a backdrop on the south side of Gerrard Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Aura’s north side, viewed from the College Park mall entrance

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: The northeast corner of the frame being built to hold the protective canopy above the Yonge Street sidewalk

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Another view of the steel frame’s northwest corner

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A view of the canopy supports that extend from inside the building

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Aura viewed from the Yonge Street median to the northeast

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Looking up the northeast corner of the building

 

Aura condos at College Park

 March 6 2012: The northeast corner of the protective overhang takes shape

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A construction worker atop the cherry picker was doing some welding on the frame when I passed below

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012 An office building on the east side of Yonge Street reflects in the glass cladding of Aura’s podium

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Signs in the podium windows advertise that the building’s biggest retail tenant, Bed Bath & Beyond, is “coming soon”

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: The underside of the massive steel canopy above Yonge Street

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: Cladding on the lower floors of the tower’s southeast corner

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A Downtown Yonge BIA street sign beneath the canopy

 

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: One final view of the protective overhang above Yonge Street. More information about Aura, as well as links to my previous posts and photos of the building’s construction progress, can be found in my February 11 2012 post.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Shock and awe as Aura ascends

  1. Zoe

    The building is horrid and that hideous canopy is too high up to protect people from the elements. There are stellar glass condos in Toronto but this sure as hell isn’t one of them.

    Reply
  2. Mark

    I love it – anything to improve the area of Yonge and Gerrard. People complain about it now. But after the building is complete, people will be flocking to the shops. It will change the landscape forever. Something positive that Yonge Street needs. Now how about the rest of the area? Preserve the beautiful old building but give the area the dazzle it so needs!

    Reply

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