Globe and Mail — “Rethinking the Towers that Be”

March 10, 2017

“There are some things we’ve all heard about apartment towers. You can’t have a neighbourhood in a high-rise. Today’s tall buildings are flimsy energy hogs. They all look the same.

But what if that conventional wisdom is wrong? Chicago architect Jeanne Gang is coming to Canada, and her firm Studio Gang has ambitions that undercut everything we think we know about tower living.

In an interview this week, Gang revealed that her firm will be designing a rental apartment building in midtown Toronto. Gang is widely seen as one of the profession’s leaders, and the most prominent female architect in the world. She was a winner of the $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship ‘genius grant’ in 2011. And her firm is designing prestigious cultural projects, including an expansion to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

But it also works on housing, including a project for Slate Asset Management, and its ambitions are high.

‘There isn’t a lot of architectural attention to residential buildings, and that’s where we spend so much time,’ Gang, 52, said. ‘They’re the DNA of the city, and they could be done so much better.’

Details of the Toronto project aren’t yet firm, but the site at 1 Delisle Ave. is near the intersection of Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. The area could prove to be a laboratory for architectural change: Slate has bought numerous properties here, including the office building adjacent to the Studio Gang site, and aims to remake this sleepy pocket of office towers.”

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Photo: Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing