Category Archives: CityPlace

Downtown skyline views from the Toronto Islands

The downtown Toronto skyline as seen from Ward's Island

A Ward’s Island view of the downtown Toronto skyline earlier this month


Pics and video: A lunchtime bikeride on the Toronto Islands earlier this month gave me a chance to check out how much the downtown skyline has changed in the one-year period since my last trip to the islands.

Although there are dozens and dozens of condo towers and several office highrises under construction in downtown Toronto, only a handful of projects have so far made a significant impact on the skyline views.

The southwest downtown core is now dominated by the two ÏCE Condominium towers which are still under construction on York Street, while the nearby Delta Hotel tower at Southcore Financial Centre on Bremner Boulevard also makes a big impact from some perspectives. 

Off to the west, the Library District Condominium tower is a noteworthy addition to the Concord CityPlace skyline; a year ago, only its construction crane was visible.

Over on the southeast side of the downtown core, The L Tower is the most eye-catching new building, with the water’s edge Residences of Pier 27 also commanding attention even though it’s only a midrise condominium project.  Much farther east, the Distillery District is easier to locate now that construction is drawing closer to completion on the Gooderham Tower.



Winter building pics: March 2013

 My March 2013 album on Flickr features more than 500 photos showing dozens of downtown construction projects and building sites. Click once on the image above to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the actual album where you can view individual full-size photos with captions.



Frozen fingers: It’s only a few days into spring and I’m still sorting through hundreds of building and construction photos I took during the winter. What has struck me the most is how gloomy and grey the city looked most of the time. Sunny, clear days were few and far between — and when they came, it was usually too bitterly cold and windy for me to risk freezing my fingers by wandering around with my camera.

I did manage a few long photo walks, though, and have been gradually posting the pics in albums on’s Flickr photostream.  Above is a link to my fourth winter photo album, March 2013.




Winter building pics: January 2013

Above is a link to my January 2013 Flickr album of building and construction photos I shot during walks in the downtown area. Click once on the image to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the album directly on Flickr and see full-size photos and captions.


Fly condo highrise climbs into its element in crowded tower cluster on Front Street West

Fly condos

August 15 2012:  Construction of Fly Condos viewed from Bathurst Street to the southwest. From this perspective, there appears to be considerable wide open space on the condo building’s north and west sides …


Fly Condos

… thanks to a large surface parking lot on Fly’s west flank …


Fly Condos

… and another large parking lot to its immediate north and northwest …


Fly condos Matrix condos and Apex condos

… however on its south side, Fly shares close quarters with three CityPlace condo towers, including the east Apex building, left, and the two oval Matrix towers on Front Street …


Fly condos and Element condos

… while Fly’s east side rises almost smack against the Element condo highrise to its east


Close quarters: At this time last summer, the underground parking levels of Fly Condos were still in the early stages of construction, with months to go before the building reached grade. As of this week, the building has climbed 23 stories above the street — just one level shy of its final floor count. In the process, Fly has made a mini condo tower canyon on Front Street West look and feel even more cramped and crowded than it had been before.

Right now, there’s lots of open space to the north and west of Fly, since the surrounding land is occupied by large surface-level parking lots (who knows for how much longer before they’re redeveloped into condos, too). But it’s a completely different story on Fly’s other two sides.



Taking a peek at the Panorama condo tower’s tight proximity to the Gardiner Expressway

Panorama condos Toronto

Looking up at the elevated Gardiner Expressway and the 24-storey Panorama condo tower from the west side of the condo property


Panorama condo tower Toronto

The Gardiner dominates views from the condo lobby entrance


Panorama Condos Toronto

Another west view of the expressway and the tower


Panorama condos Toronto

Visitors drive or walk beneath the Gardiner to reach the condo entrance


Towering over traffic:  It seems my March 15 post and photos of the Garrison at the Yards condo project near Fort York piqued quite a bit of curiosity about new condo development that is taking place literally just a few feet from the shoulders of the elevated Gardiner Expressway. Some readers have asked if I could post pictures of other condo towers that stand equally close to the Gardiner, while on Sunday March 18 the Toronto Star published an article headlined: “Toronto condos: How close is too close to the Gardiner?”

Garrison at the Yards isn’t the first building to rise side-by-side with the city’s controversial raised expressway, and it won’t be the last: in just a few years, it will be joined by about a half-dozen more highway-hugging highrises.  All are following in the footsteps of the 24-storey Panorama condo tower which opened a couple of years back. Squeezed onto a wedge-shaped parcel of land between The Gardiner and Lake Shore Boulevard west, Panorama’s location ensures that residents overlook busy traffic routes from virtually all sides of the building.



The skyline and CityPlace on a sunny winter day

Downtown Toronto skyline

Toronto growing taller


A view of the downtown Toronto skyline, looking east from the Bathurst Street Bridge this afternoon. The cityscape boasts three new skyscrapers, including Charlie Condos at King & Charlotte Streets (with crane, at left) Living Shangri-La Toronto at University Avenue & Adelaide Street (with crane, center rear), and the Trump International Hotel + Tower Toronto, partly visible to the left side of First Canadian Place. The Trump Toronto Hotel opened for business today.


CN Tower and CityPlace skyscrapers

CN Tower, CityPlace and the Puente de Luz bridge


A Bathurst Street bridge view of the CN Tower, some of the condo skyscrapers at Concord CityPlace, and the yellow Puente de Luz bridge which will connect City Place to Front Street West above the railway tracks. Below are videoclips I shot this afternoon showing the downtown skyline, construction activity at the Library District condominiums complex at the west end of CityPlace, and the various condo highrises at CityPlace. The latter clip includes views of the grey-and-white, 41-storey Toronto Community Housing apartment tower under construction at 150 Dan Leckie Way, as well as close-ups of the points where a 2-level bridge will link the round and rectangular Parade condo towers.








CBC News series will investigate looming threat of ‘slow-motion failure’ for ‘throw-away’ glass condos

Toronto CityPlace condo construction

Construction of the Parade condo complex at Concord CityPlace in mid-September. Rising on the railway lands west of the Financial District, the Parade project is just one of approximately 130 condo highrises currently being built in Toronto.


‘Failure’ in 5 to 15 years?: How long will Toronto’s glass-walled condo towers last? That’s one of the intriguing questions being examined in a special three-part investigative series airing this week on CBC News.

The reports, being broadcast on morning radio and early evening news programs, will examine what some experts believe will be the “short-term durability” and potentially staggering long-term maintenance costs for the scores of glass-walled condo towers rising on the Toronto skyline.

In a story posted today on, “Toronto’s glass condos face short lifespan, experts say,” the network quotes a developer who describes glass-walled condos as “‘throw-away buildings’ because of their short lifespan relative to buildings with walls made of concrete or brick.”


Enormous potential repair expenses

“We believe that somewhere between, say, year five and year 15, many, many, many of those units will fail,” David House of Earth Development told CBC. Major problems expected to arise include insulation failures, water leaks and “skyrocketing energy and maintenance costs,” for which condo unit owners would be on the hook. Fixing those problems will entail enormous expense — experts say the glass “skin” of condo towers could have to be completely replaced at a cost of millions of dollars per building. Meanwhile, unit resale values could plunge, further exacerbating condo owners’ financial woes.

The story is one of several articles on the CBC website that examine issues and concerns raised by the city’s continuing condominium building boom. Another, “Throw-away buildings: The slow-motion failure of Toronto’s glass condos,” includes links to a report explaining how thermal windows fail, as well as “The Glass Condo Conundrum,” a paper in which University of Toronto Professor of Building Science Ted Kesik examines the potential liabilities of glass towers.

The series began on CBC News Toronto at 6 p.m. today with an introduction by reporter John Lancaster. On tomorrow’s TV report, the CBC will visit a Toronto condo highrise with an infrared camera to show how much energy is lost through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls.  A similar investigative series by Mary Wiens is being featured this week on the CBC Radio show, Metro Morning.


Toronto’s next ghetto?

The CBC report follows on the heels of a provocative November 10 2011 feature story in The Grid TO in which writer Edward Keenan examined concerns that CityPlace could become “Toronto’s next ghetto.”

“This is the nightmare many foresee for CityPlace: Once the blue-green tinted glass buildings begin to age and no longer feel like the cutting edge in urban design, the development will no longer seem attractive to the young, mostly single and childless professionals who are currently moving in. Whoever replaces them will find a densely populated neighbourhood with little to recommend it. Cut off from the city by highways and rail lands, without much in the way of street life, the fear is the buildings will fall into disrepair and the only people who will live in the tiny apartments are families who can’t afford housing anywhere else,” Keenan writes.


Optima condo at 81 Navy Wharf Court Toronto

According to the CBC, owners in the CityPlace Optima condo highrise at 81 Navy Wharf Court (seen here in November 2010) are suing the building developer, Concord, for alleged defects in the 9-year-old tower’s glass window wall system



City Scene: Looking up — and down — at CityPlace

CN Tower viewed from Concord CityPlace


Looking both ways: The CN Tower is viewed through a gap between condo highrises at Concord CityPlace in this photo from March 29 2011 (above). The photo below, taken on November 2 2010, shows the view from the exact opposite direction — from one of the observation decks on the CN Tower.


CN Tower view of Concord CityPlace condo highrises

City Scene: Condos and cranes at Concord CityPlace

Downtown Toronto skyline

Skyscrapers keep rising at the massive CityPlace district west of the CN Tower

Tracking progress: Condo towers and construction cranes greet visitors arriving in downtown Toronto by GO Train or Via Rail. As the trains slow down for their arrival at Union Station, they pass the steadily expanding Concord CityPlace development on the south side of the tracks. This was the Bathurst Street Bridge view of CityPlace on the afternoon of January 14.