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Omar Gandhi: a Notable Young Canadian Architect

I am a proud supporter of Dalhousie School of Architecture as quite a few bright young architects have emerged from Dalhousie including Omar Gandhi. MICHELLE PHILLIPS has written this month’s blog post highlighting Omar and his architectural work.

Omar Gandhi is a notable young Canadian architect who is responsible for contemporizing many building forms and redefining the aesthetic of Canada’s east coast. Despite his works being primarily located on the east coast, and unlike many east coast architects who are responsible for some of the regionally inspired work that preceded him, he is not from that area. Gandhi grew up in Brampton, Ontario and then went on to study architecture at University of Toronto. He progressed to Dalhousie University to complete his Masters, arriving with an innovative perspective and deep appreciation for the regional vernacular. 

Gandhi’s work has been heavily influenced by the distinct rural east coast landscapes and displays a high sensitivity to its natural surroundings. Gandhi has demonstrated an aptitude for working with a diverse set of site dynamics and then accentuating the natural characteristics unique to each site. Interestingly, budget constraints had been a key reason to leave materials in their original form with a more unfinished look. Though at times unintended, this more truthful use of raw materials in their natural form has become a crucial feature to his work.  

Gandhi founded his architecture practice, Omar Gandhi Architect, in 2010, and in only ten years as a principal he has already achieved significant success. One notable accomplishment is receiving the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture for his Rabbit Snare Gorge house in Cape Breton. In 2016, he expanded his practice and opened a satellite office in Parkdale, a Toronto neighbourhood where he has diversified his projects into more urban settings. In Toronto he has begun work on mixed-use projects while remaining primarily focused on residential projects in Halifax. As Gandhi’s work expands beyond his east coast roots and through Canada his focus on regional influences across the country will be exciting to observe.  


Rabbit Snare Gorge Home in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

The Rabbit Snare Gorge Home provided Gandhi with his first Governor General’s Medal along with other recognized Canadian architects. It sits on over 40 acres within the landscape of the Cape Breton Highlands comprising steep slopes, woods, gorges and rocky cliffs. The cabin is a modified gabled tower that is stretched vertically and reaches above the tree canopy with two distinct viewing decks, one facing the ocean and the other facing the valley. The entry is made of steel and it wraps the front door to protect it from the aggressive winds and pay homage to other homes in the area. The alteration of the traditional gable structure––opening it and emphasizing views––accentuates the natural environment. Consideration for the landscape was a key design factor due to the owners’ high sensitivity to ecological disruption. This also played out through the vertical nature of the structure, which minimized the building’s footprint. The site is exposed to intense storms, winds that exceed 200km/hr, and ocean salt spray that require that the home withstand these loads through extra structural measures.  


Sluice Point Home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia 

Sluice Point is located in a forested area looking on to marshlands of the Tusket River on the southern tip of Nova Scotia. The building was inspired by the local Acadian saltwater haystacks that were previously used to store hay on marshes to elevate them from flooding. The entryway door is a key design feature because it is vertical and compressed, in contrast to the expansive, breathtaking, panoramic views that you see once you enter the home. The area has a handful of small, traditional cottages and few new buildings which necessitated being respectful of the community in the home’s design. As a result, the structure was designed to be a low, long, horizontal building with natural materials to blend into the landscape. To make the building robust and low maintenance, a consistent colour scheme of natural and raw materials, including concrete and local wood, were used.

Float in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Float residence was inspired by a glacial by-product referred to as “float”––loose pieces of rock that have been moved by a glacier and are deposited and scattered amidst the landscape. The house sits on the exposed rock in a previously forested site that was damaged by a wildfire that had left charred trees around the perimeter. The house was designed for functional multi-generational living between parents and adult children. There is a central zone used for daily living that is sandwiched by two separate sleeping zones. The interior materials used mimic the surrounding landscape with dark greys, white walls and a concrete floor. The exterior is made up of grey wood cladding that resembles the bedrock strata with slight variations.

Lady Marmalade in Toronto, Ontario

Lady Marmalade is an established Toronto brunch spot on Broadview Avenue in the South Riverdale neighbourhood.  Omar Gandhi, in partnership with SvN, designed and renovated the restaurant to retain the original character of the exterior building, specifically the brick. The renovation involved opening up the storefront window to allow a clear view into the restaurant’s bright interior, transforming the long, narrow, dark building into a warm space to enjoy food. There are multiple nods to the previous building with exposed beams, a compressed entry and an open kitchen where patrons can see the activity clearly. One of the most notable design features is the Baltic birch that is consistent throughout the restaurant and not only finishes the walls but flows down to form a banquette and a coffee bar. This renovation has kept the charm of the original building elements while updating it to establish itself as a contemporary brunch destination.   

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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: August 2020 Market Report

Below is summary of August Market performance courtesy of Chris Kapches, CEO Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited. For specific information on sales statistics in your neighbourhood or a neighbourhood you are interested in please do not hesitate to contact me.

Another astounding month for the Toronto and area residential resale market place. August broke two records: one for most sale ever recorded for the month of August and two, the highest average sale price for all properties sold in the history of record keeping for the Toronto and area market place.

Toronto and area realtors reported 10,775 sales in August. These sales represent a shocking 40.3 percent increase compared to the 7,682 sales reported last year, which was a very respectable August for reported sales. This dramatic increase was predominately driven by an increase in sales of detached and semi-detached properties.

In the City of Toronto detached property sales increased by 65.3 percent and semi-detached properties by an eye-popping 81.2 percent compared to last August. Condominium apartments, for reasons discussed in my July report, did not fare nearly as well, rising by only 9.2 percent.

The Toronto and area average sale price record has now been exceeded for three consecutive months. June’s average sale price of $931,302 exceeded the previous record of $920,000 achieved in April of 2017, the month during which the then provincial government legislated the foreign buyers tax. In July, the average sale price jumped to $943,666, another record. This August it moved closer to the magical $1 Million mark coming in at $951,4014, the new record for Toronto and area resales.

The $1 Million mark has been exceeded for some time in the City of Toronto. Notwithstanding the mix of less expensive condominium apartments, the average sale price for all property sales in Toronto came in at $1,012,506, an amazing 24 percent increase compared to only a year ago. No doubt this increase was driven by the 413 reported sales during the month having a sale price of $2 Million or more, most of which were located in the City of Toronto. The average sale price in the 905 region, by comparison, was only $906,440 for all property types sold in August.

It is not surprising that sales took place at the real estate equivalent of the speed of light. All 10,775 sales for the month took place in only 17 days (on average) after hitting the market. By comparison last year it took 25 days on the market for properties to sell, an improvement of 32 percent. For some property types and depending on location sales took place even faster.

For example detached properties in the City of Toronto sold in only 16 days and for 101 percent of their asking price. Semi-detached properties sold even faster, in only 10 days and for an incredible 108 percent of their asking prices.

In Toronto’s eastern districts the pace of sales was record-breaking. All semi-detached properties sold in only 8 days and for an amazing 112 percent of their asking prices. There was a glimmer of hope for frustrated buyers in August. For the first time since the pandemic, August saw a dramatically high number of new listings coming to market. Almost 18,500 new properties came available to buyers, 56.8 percent more than became available in August 2019. Last year only 11,789 properties came to market.

Due to the high absorption level in August (10,775 sales) at month end there were still only 16,662 properties on the market throughout the greater Toronto area, only 5 percent more than the 15,870 available last year. If new listings continue at August’s pace into September, they will have a profound impact, helping the market to move away from the extreme seller’s market we have been experiencing and ultimately having a moderating affect on average sale prices.

Early September data indicates that September 2020 may be another record-breaking month both as to the average sale price and the number of reported sales. Stay tuned!

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Ron Thom: An influential Canadian Architect

As I was born in Vancouver, I have an affinity for west coast architecture and I wanted to highlight Ron Thom, a world-renowned Canadian architect who, interestingly, did not have an education in architecture but rather evolved into his trade.  When we searched for an architect to create our Muskoka cottage 30 years ago we chose Peter Burton, Principal at +VG who won us over based on the fact he was mentored by Ron Thom (in addition to the fact we like his work.) We were not disappointed–our cottage has that west coast flair and you can see Ron Thom’s influences blended with Peter Burton’s own unique architectural details. There are a few Ron Thom-designed residential properties in Toronto, including a Ron Thom original home (4 Old George Place, Fraser Residence ) in Rosedale that is artfully built into the ravine in an understated manner that blends nature with a modest streetscape. The home has been recently renovated by Altius to maintain the integrity of the original architecture.  There is another Ron Thom home in the Bayview York Mills area that was owned by art collector Murray Frum. I had the pleasure of touring this home, also on a ravine. It too features a subtle streetscape and nestles into the ravine to be one with nature.  The York Mills property has an addition done by Shim + Sutcliffe that complements the Ron Thom original architecture. 

Paul Johnston Unique Modern Homes happens to have a Ron Thom designed townhome up for sale that was actually his mother’s own home.

If you would like to learn more, Emily Milana has written a blog piece for me on Ron Thom and his work which you can read below.

Canadian architecture has largely been defined by the work of a few key domestic and international minds. Ronald Thom was one of the most influential Canadian architects of the twentieth century and he became most well known for his grand institutional works – Massey College at the University of Toronto and the master plan of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario (Rybczynski, 2019). Thom was known for his masterfully comprehensive designs, in which he was responsible for the design of everything from the overall structure to small ancillary items such as cutlery and ashtrays (Lee, 2013). Although Thom’s work was fundamentally influenced by global trends and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his other contemporaries, Thom’s designs were very unique and many have become cultural icons in Canada (Trent University, 2020). 

Thom was born in Penticton, British Columbia in 1923 and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II before studying painting at the Vancouver School of Art (The Cultural Landscape Foundation, 2020). After graduating from art school (not architecture school) Thom began his architectural career as an intern at the Vancouver firm of Thompson, Berwick & Pratt (TBP). After designing many award-winning residential projects and passing his architectural licensing exams, Thom was promoted to firm Partner in 1958 (The Cultural Landscape Foundation, 2020). However after few years of success, Thom decided to take his ambitions to Toronto in the early 1960s and founded his own firm called R.J. Thom & Associates (Lee, 2013). 

Shortly thereafter, Thom’s firm won the design competition for Massey College which was completed in 1963 (Lee, 2013). Thom’s design for Massey College was largely influenced by the traditional architecture of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Adele Weder, curator of the West Vancouver Museum’s exhibition on Thom, described Thom’s Massey College design as “something of a gesamtkunstwerk (a total work of art)” insofar Thom designed, commissioned and “otherwise (oversaw) each component of the building from the outside in, from the gardens to the ashtrays” (Lee, 2013). Consequently, Thom exercised a unique amount of control over the project from the beginning. So much so that Thom even commissioned the cutlery and table settings which would be used by patrons whilst seated at the large custom built communal oak tables in the dining hall (Osborne, 2014). However, I believe that the most important aspect of the overall Massey College design was that Thom was able to appropriately incorporate Massey College into the existing architectural fabric of the University of Toronto community. This aspect, among many others, was key to the overall success of the project and Massey College continues to win prestigious design awards from institutions such as the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (The Cultural Landscape Foundation, 2020). 

After demonstrating his architectural abilities at Massey College, Thom was commissioned by Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario to design a masterplan for the University in the late 1960s. At Trent, Thom designed the Thomas J. Bata Library, Champlain College, Lady Eaton College and the Chemistry building (Trent University, 2020). According to Trent University, Thom was also responsible for designing the “overall campus plan, roadways, main college buildings, pedestrian paths, landscaping, floor coverings, lighting, desks, cabinets, chairs, tables, stools, dinnerware, artwork and ashtrays (Trent University, 2020).” Thom was ultimately able to seamlessly weave together the surrounding landscape of the Otonabee River with University’s buildings – creating something of a “haven” for students and faculty (Trent University). 

Many years after his death in 1986 – a travelling exhibition titled “Ron Thom and the Allied Arts” was developed in 2014 by the Vancouver Museum of Art. The exhibition thoughtfully demonstrated his architectural and artistic abilities through a display of artifacts and items from his many projects (Gardiner Museum, 2020). When asked about the project, Curator Adele Weder remarked that, “few architects have helped shape Canadian architecture as poetically as Ron Thom… (he) devoted himself to a profoundly holistic approach, wherein the fields of architecture, ceramics, visual arts, furniture and landscape formed a continuum” (Gardiner Museum, 2020). Thom was undoubtedly a true visionary and if you were not fortunate enough to see the exhibition when it came to Toronto’s Gardiner Museum in 2014 – it is definitely worth taking a drive to view the idyllic Trent University campus or walking by Massey College in Toronto to experience the scale Thom’s architecture first hand. 


(2020, July 25). Ronald Thom. The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

 (2020, July 28). Ron Thom & the Allied Arts. The Gardiner Museum.

(2020, July 25). Ron Thom (1923-1986). Trent University.

Lee, JJ. (2013, Oct. 1). Ron Thom and the Allied Arts. Canadian Architect.

Osborne, Catherine. (2014, Mar. 14). 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Ron Thom. Azure Magazine. 

Rybczynski, Witold. (2019, Dec. 19). A Brief History of Recent Canadian Architecture. Architect Magazine

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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: July 2020 Market Report

Chris Kapches, President and CEO of Chestnut Park provides the July 2020 Toronto Real Estate Market Report….

July’s residential resale market performance was record-breaking. Almost 11,100 properties were reported sold, a 28 percent increase compared to the 8,679 properties sold a month earlier. Compared to July 2019, sales improved by almost 30 percent. There were 8,555 residential properties reported sold last year. July’s numbers are the clearest indication as to the robustness and resilience of the Toronto marketplace, especially when fueled by record-low mortgage interest rates.

It is no surprise that average sale prices have also increased, also to record levels. In July the average sale price for all properties sold in the greater Toronto area came in at $943,710, surpassing June’s record-breaking average sale price of $931,221. By comparison, last July the average sale price was only $806,971. Notwithstanding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, today’s average sale price is 17 percent higher than only a year ago.

In the City of Toronto, the average sale price is even higher. It came in at $1,017,320. This number is particularly impressive when it is remembered that it includes 1,689 condominium apartment sales out of a total of 3,577 properties reported sold.

It is also worth noting that the higher-end of the marketplace exploded in July. In July 452 properties having a sale price of $2 million or more were sold. By comparison, only 185 properties in this category were reported sold last year, an eye-popping increase of 144 percent. No doubt the resurgence of the equity markets has bolstered the confidence of purchasers of higher-priced properties.

The entire residential market has not reacted to the pandemic and its impact on the local economy equally. Condominium apartment sales were negatively impacted during the second quarter of 2020. The quarter saw the tightest economic restrictions and the resulting economic fallout. During the second quarter (ending June 30th), condominium apartment sales were down by over 50 percent, and new listings over the same period were down by almost 22 percent. Notwithstanding these very negative numbers, the average sale price increased by 5.1 percent to $619,707.

In July there was evidence that the condominium apartment market was making a recovery from its poor second quarter performance. In July sales modestly rose by 4.7 percent compared to last year. Sale prices were more robust, rising by almost 9 percent to $682,999 in the greater Toronto area. In the City of Toronto’s central core, the average sale price was a stunning $746,204.

The rental market was also negatively impacted by the pandemic in the second quarter. A combination of restrictions on showing condominium apartment units for rent and job losses across a multitude of economic sectors dampened demand for rental accommodation. As a result, condominium apartment rentals in the second quarter were down by 25 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019, where the number of available condominium apartments increased by 42 percent to 21,703. Not surprisingly, average rents have declined across the board from bachelor to three-bedroom apartments. Except for bachelor apartments, rents declined, on average, by 5.5 percent from a year ago. Bachelor apartment rents, understandably, declined by almost 10 percent. Increased choice has allowed tenants to negotiate rents downwards, a reversal of years of constantly rising rent levels.

Early August results indicate that the resale market will produce strong numbers once again, although not quite as robust as July. On a year over year basis sales will be approximately 10 percent higher than August of last year. It cannot be over emphasized that mortgage interest rates of less than 2 percent will continue to drive the Toronto and area resale market, even in the face of the negative economic impact of the pandemic. Those rates are not expected to rise for some time, perhaps as late as the end of 2021.

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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: June 2020 Market Report

Chris Kapches the President and CEO of Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited provides the Toronto July 20020 Real Estate Market report….

By any standards, the residential resale market’s recovery in June was nothing but phenomenal. The lockdown and emergency measures implemented by the Province in mid-March literally brought the market to a standstill. It stayed that way throughout April, but by early May, we could sense recovery. By May the industry, agents, buyers and sellers had adjusted to the rigid in-person showing protocols – masks, gloves, sanitizers, social distancing, and no-touch viewings. Also, by May, the pent up demand, already present before the pandemic, began to push against the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 and sales began to take place.

In June sales flourished. There were 8,701 reported sales in the greater Toronto area, only 1.4 percent fewer than the 8,826 sales reported last year. That is a 19 percent increase compared to the 2,961 sales achieved in April, and an 89 percent increase compared to the 4,601 reported sales in May. These numbers represent an unprecedented recovery. Most economists had predicted a much more protracted recovery, a recovery resembling the economic recovery following the collapse of the equities market in 2008.

Unlike sales, which declined in March and then recovered in June, average sales prices did not noticeably decline during this period. In fact, they continued to strengthen, approaching record levels. In June the average sale price for all properties sold in the greater Toronto area come in at an eye-popping $930,869, 12 percent higher than last year’s average sale price of $831,882. In the City of Toronto, the average sale price came in at $1,022,138. Not quite a record but approaching one, and well above Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s $1 Million threshold for high ratio loans. Housing in the City of Toronto experienced increases in all housing types – detached (14.3 percent), semi-detached (an amazing 22 percent), and condominium apartments (5.6 percent) compared to the same month last year.

These increases were stimulated by the resurgence of the high-end market, which was slower in its recovery than lower price-point properties. In June 365 properties with a sale price of $2 Million or more were reported sold. This represents a 42 percent increase compared to the 257 reported sold in this price category last year. It is worth noting that at the market’s lowest point in April, only 67 properties were reported sold in this category. No doubt with the recovery of equity markets over this period, confidence at the higher price points has returned.

Semi-detached properties throughout the City of Toronto were the most sought-after housing type. They were literally flying off the shelf. The average sale price for semi-detached properties came in at a record $1,287,832. Not only was the average sale price a record, but all semi-detached properties sold, in another record, in only 9 days. Not only did they sell in 9 days, but they sold for 106 percent of the asking price. In Toronto’s eastern districts, all semi-detached properties sold, in a record 6 days, for 110 percent of their asking price. In the trading areas closest to Toronto’s central core (Riverdale, Leslieville, the Beaches) in 5 days and for more than 110 percent of asking price. These are extraordinary numbers and an unprecedented market performance.

The one area of continuing concern is supply, although there was some marginal improvement in June. In June 16,153 new properties came to market. A slight increase compared to the 15,824 that came to market last year. Unfortunately, at month-end, there were only 14,001 properties available for buyers throughout the greater Toronto area, almost 30 percent fewer than the 19,655 that were available last year.

Early indications point to an equally strong July. The factors that drove the market in June are still present and will not be going away – historically low-interest rates, pent up demand, and lack of supply which is creating a “don’t want to miss out” mentality amongst buyers.

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Richard Neutra: The Mid-Century Modernist

Richard Neutra’s VDL Studio and Residence

A few years ago I had the pleasure of participating in a walking tour of Silver Lake, Los Angeles with a group of friends to explore all the wonderful mid-century modern homes in the area. There are a number of Richard Neutra homes in the area including the Neutra VDL studio and residences. Now closed to the public due to COVID-19, they offer a Matterport tour of Neutra VDL Studios and Residences which is nice introduction to Richard Neutra! I happen to know an individual who was part of the artist residence program in which the artist  creates an art installation while residing on the property. Competing Utopias 2014: An Experimental Installation of Cold War and Modern Design for East and West is one of many “in situ” installations over the years.

I continue to support a summer student; this post was written by guest blogger Emily Milana

Richard Neutra was one of the most influential modern architects of the 20th century. 

Neutra became renowned in North America for his unique mid-century modern designs and his contributions to the International Style school of architecture (Los Angeles Conservatory, 2020). As a proponent of the International Style, many of Neutra’s designs included straight-lined forms and interior spaces with large windows and doors which allowed each space to completely open up onto the exterior landscape (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020).  While many of Neutra’s original designs were located in sunny southern California – his modernist style substantially impacted residential design throughout North America (Neutra, 2020).

Lovell House Interior, Los Angeles, California

Neutra was born in Vienna in 1892 and began studying architecture at the Vienna University of Technology and continued his studies at the private school of renowned designer Adolf Loos (Goodwin, 2020). After Neutra completed his studies in the early 1920s, he worked as the Chief Architect of the German town of Luckenwalde and as a junior architect at the practice of Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (Goodwin, 2020). Neutra then emigrated to the United States in 1923 and began working under Flank Lloyd Wright, where he was able to create a reputation for himself by introducing his new-wave modern designs to clients in southern California (Neutra, 2020).  

However, it was only after Neutra opened his own practice in the late 1920s, that his personal architectural style became more defined. Neutra was famous for his ability to intricately weave together steel and glass to construct clean and simple geometric designs, which highly contrasted the mainstream style of the majority of residential design throughout the United States (Goodman, 2020). Consequently, many of Neutra’s designs including the Lovell House in Los Angeles, California and the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California – would become the epitome of International Style architecture (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020). 

The Kaufman House, Palm Springs, California

 Neutra and his colleagues capitalized on the introduction of new building materials and construction technology. Whereas many homes were traditionally built from bricks and stone – most of Neutra’s designs used steel, iron, reinforced concrete and glass which proved to be much more effective building materials (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2020). These new materials allowed Neutra to design houses that had an “airy lightness,” as large open windows and indoor-outdoor spaces brought in ample daylight (Goodwin, 2020). The Lovell House, also called the “Floating House” by some, best exemplified this “airy lightness” as the house was cantilevered on the steep Hollywood Hills (Paragan, 2017).  

According to the Los Angeles Conservatory, Neutra used his architecture to connect his clients to nature. A Neutra scholar, Barbara Lamprecht, explained that his philosophy of “biorealism sought to use biological sciences and architecture – so that design exploited, with great sophistication, the realm of the sense and an interconnectedness to nature that he believed fundamental and requisite to human well-being” (Los Angeles Conservatory, 2020). Neutra’s philosophy is best demonstrated in the Kaufmann House, which was one of his most famous works and was designed for the same man who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” (Thorpe, 2019). The Kaufmann House was perfectly tailored to the southern Californian climate. The house included a flat roof, pale exterior cladding, slatted metal walls and shaded exterior spaces which allowed the homeowner to enjoy the surrounding landscape and views (Cogley, 2018). 

Although Richard Neutra died in the early 1970s, his son and partner Dion Neutra continued to foster his legacy by designing and building homes that were largely influenced by his father’s style (Rozzo, 2019).  The Los Angeles Times described Dion Neutra as an “aggressive and sometimes prickly steward of the Neutra legacy,” as he lobbied and fought for the preservation of many of his father’s works that were threatened by demolition and new development (Rozzo, 2019). However, it is evident that Dion Neutra’s fight was for good reason because many of the remaining original Neutra buildings in the Los Angeles area are still in impeccable shape and have high price tags when listed for sale (Rozzo, 2019).  

As mid-century modern architecture continues to trend across the globe it is quite clear that many modern-day architects will continue to be influenced by Neutra’s unique designs and seamless incorporating of indoor-outdoor living. A quick browse through the works of Toronto’s most popular residential architectural firms such as Paul Raff Studio, Drew Mandel Architects, Hariri Pontarini Architects and Superkul demonstrates that architecture similar to Neutra’s simple, functional and clean modernism has become increasingly popular throughout our city.


1960 Richard Neutra Design Interior

If anyone has interest in owning an original Richard Neutra, the Lovell House is currently for sale with the current owners waiting for the right buyer who would lovingly restore and maintain the residence.  


(2020, May 29). International Style. Encyclopedia Britannica. 

 (2020, June 8). Richard Joseph Neutra. Neutra.

(2020, June 8). Richard Neutra. Los Angeles Conservancy.

Cogley, Bridgert. (2018, February 16). Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House epitomises desert modernism in Palm Springs. Dezeen.

Goodwin, Dario. (2020, April). Spotlight: Richard Neutra. ArchDaily.

Overdijk, Maarten. (2015, Nov. 2 ). Richard Neutra’s Therapeutic Architecture. Failed Architecture.

Rizzo, Mark. (2019, Nov. 25). Architect Dion Neutra, who fought to save his father’s iconic buildings, dies. Los Angeles Times.

Thorpe, Harriet. (2019, Feb. 21). The Architects Who Built Palm Springs: Richard Neutra. Wallpaper.

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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Boho-chic Condo in the Phoebe on Queen

Welcome to 18 Beverley Street Suite B420 in the Phoebe on Queen!

Offered for sale at $625,000

Virtual Tour

About the Unit

This Boho-chic south-facing, light-filled condo is the perfect starter condo that lets the sun shine in! It has one bedroom, one bathroom, and checks many boxes including an owned parking spot, locker and ensuite laundry! It provides open living with a spacious dining room and Juliet balcony that overlooks Queen West views. Also note the principal rooms have hardwood floors throughout. A key feature to this unit is the recently updated, transitional style kitchen with grey painted wood cabinetry, a chef’s island, crisp Caesarstone countertops, undermount sink and contemporary high arch pull down faucet! The bedroom is discreetly tucked away with sliding doors for privacy from the main living space and has two mirrored closets and broadloom. The bathroom has an updated grey vanity and has double entry from both the living area and bedroom. 

  • All electric light fixtures 
  • LG microwave
  • LG stove
  • Frigidaire fridge
  • Bosch dishwasher
  • Washer and dryer
  • Dining area drapes
  • Shower curtain 
  • All art, furnishings and accessories 
Suite Size:
  • 631 sq ft per MPAC
  • 635 sq ft per floor plan
Annual taxes: approximately $2,820 (2020)
Monthly maintenance: $608
Parking spot: Level A #90
Locker: Level A #269 

About the Building

The Phoebe on Queen is a sought-after, award-winning Diamante building just steps to Queen West. It shares a peaceful gated courtyard with three neighbouring buildings that creates a complete oasis in the city and a strong sense of community for its residents. The Phoebe on Queen has a gym, guest parking, a party room, courtyard BBQs, guest suites, 24 hr concierge and a car wash station. The front entrance of the building is being refurbished to modernize the appearance.

About the Neighbourhood

At the Phoebe on Queen West you are steps from all of the luxuries of downtown Toronto including globally recognized hospitals and institutions such as the U of T, Ryerson and OCAD University. The AGO’s world class art collection is around the corner and the diverse collection of renowned cuisine nearby is endless. The newly transformed Grange Park and Kensington Market are additional neighbourhood amenities.  To top it all off it has an amazing walk score of 99, thanks to easy access to Union Station, the UPX, Billy Bishop Airport and the TTC.

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May 2020 Toronto Real Estate Market Report

The May 2020 Toronto Real Estate Market saw an increase in showing activity from April 2020. It is clear there is some pent-up demand resulting from the real estate market basically being put on hold for almost two months. There is a definite trend away from small condos toward small entry-level homes in popular areas such as High Park, Swansea, Roncesvalles, the Junction, Leslieville and Riverdale, and this has resulted in the return of bidding wars and even some pre-emptive offer situations.  It should be noted that during this slowdown we have also seen some big ticket sales in Forest Hill and Rosedale. The luxury market is definitely quieter than the entry level, but sales are still occurring at the higher price points. Toronto continues to have an inventory problem at this time which is keeping prices steady. As a result of COVID-19 there is a trend of decreased immigration and fewer international students which is reflected in an approximate 5% drop in monthly rent prices in the GTA.

For more details on the market please watch Chris Kapches, Chestnut Park President and CEO.

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Bjarke Ingels: BIG Ideas and Transformation Architecture

I continue my monthly architect series and have chosen this month to feature Bjarke Ingels with an article provided by guest blogger Emily Milana.

Unzipped: An Art Installation by Bjarke Ingels to launch the KING Toronto development.

Bjarke Ingels is one of the most highly revered architects of the modern era and he is the mind behind the captivating KING Toronto development and was also the architect behind Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel. Ingels is the founder of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) architectural practice and he has won countless awards including being named as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME Magazine in 2016 (Bjarke Ingels Group, 2020). However, becoming one of the world’s most highly considered architects was not initially Ingels’ goal. In 1993, Ingels enrolled in architectural school at the Danish Academy of Fine Arts with the hope that studying architecture would improve his drawing skills in order that he could become a cartoonist (Rawn, 2019). While studying, he became fascinated with architecture and finished his architectural degree at the famous Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona (Rawn, 2019).

At the earliest stages of his career, Ingels worked under Rem Koolhaas at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, Netherlands and then opened his own practice called PLOT Architects in 2001 (Rawn, 2019). After four years of success, Ingels decided to part ways with PLOT and founded BIG, which currently has over 400 employees internationally and offices in Copenhagan, New York City, London and Barcelona (Bjarke Ingels Group, 2020).

In his work titled Yes is More (2009), Ingels described his design philosophy as “utopian pragmatism” meaning that he sees that it is his duty as an architect to “incorporate and integrate differences, not through compromise or by choosing sides, but by tying conflicting interests into a Gordian knot of new ideas” (Moller, 2013). It is with this ideal in mind that Ingels’ attempts to combine the utopian dreams of architecture with the conflicting pragmatic challenges of modern society (Moller, 2013). In an article for ArchDaily, Michael Wacht describes Ingels’ work as leading the Diagramism movement (2015). Wacht says that for those architects influenced by Diagramism – their work can be characterized by singular ideas “(that) are not usually abstract or poetic in nature” which become the focal point of each project (2015). Ingels’ pragmatic utopianism is guided by Diagramism in so far as the majority of Ingels’ projects look to solve complex social problems through simple and meaningful design. Ingels’ firm’s approach to design is quite unique because the firm relies heavily on highly “technical simulations” such as daylight analysis, thermal exposure, airflow, wind and traffic flow – in order to understand the environmental impact of each design and ensure that the design is appropriate for each specific context (Bjarke Ingels Group, 2020).

Via 57 West New York, New York

Bjarke Ingels truly is a world innovator and has created the world’s most efficient power plant that is capable of converting 440,000 tons of waste into energy annually. Below is a model of the CopenHill Power Plant (the model below was on display at Unzipped) that incorporates a roof top ski hill into the design and emits non toxic smoke rings into the air. The plant opened in October 2019.

The CopenHill Power Plant that is touted the cleanest energy plant and incorporates a rooftop ski hill.

Some of Ingels’ most significant designs include Via 57 West in New York City, the Hualien Residences in Taiwan, the VM Houses and Mountain Dwelling in Copenhagan and two distinctly Canadian projects – the Vancouver House and KING Toronto. Ian Gillespie of the Vancouver-based development firm Westbank, remarks that the design for KING Toronto was primarily based off of Habitat 67 in Montreal (2018). Similar to Habitat 67, KING Toronto will be built as group of stacks of cubes each containing a residential unit in order to fabricate a vibrant community situated within the bustling King Street West neighbourhood (Bozikovic, 2018). Furthermore, Ingels and the other designers also drew inspiration from Maison de Verre in Paris, which is an industrial-looking residence primarily constructed out of glass blocks that was designed by Pierre Chareau in 1932. Similarly, KING Toronto’s façade will be predominantly constructed from glass blocks which will invite unique patterns of daylight into the residences (Gillespie, 2018). Since Ingels’ KING Toronto design is highly unique and distinct from any other building in Toronto – once it is complete, the building will most definitely attract attention from critics on an international scale and will elevate Toronto’s status as an architectural destination.

The Architectural Model for KING Toronto that was on display at Unzipped to laugh the project.

It will be very exciting to see KING Toronto completed and the developer has a partnership with B&B Italia to provide a furniture package which creates a fully curated condo purchase experience.

It is nice to see significant architecture in Toronto as we continue to evolve into a world class city.

Thank you to Emily Milana, Queen’s faculty of Law, for providing me this article.  She reached out to me looking for an administrative job and I thought, why not help someone out? This is her first article for me and I look forward to a few more. COVID-19 has left many university students scrambling for work so a few acts of kindness can certainly help these kids out. She has done a very impressive job!

Helen Braithwaite, Real Estate Representative,

Chairman’s Award recipient 2017-2019

Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited    

References(2020, May 18). About. Bjarke Ingles Group.
(2020, May 19). BIG Ideas. Bjarke Ingels Group.
Bozikovic, Alex. (2018, Sept. 12). Thinking BIG: Danish Architects Have a Radical Vision to Build a Distinct Condo Community in Toronto. The Globe and Mail.
Gillespie, Ian. (2018, Nov. 10). King Street Reimagined. Toronto Star.
Moller, Anders. (2013). Yes is More: The BIG Philosophy. Arch Daily.
Rawn, Evan. (2019). Spotlight: Bjarke Ingels. Arch Daily.
Wacht, Michael. (2015). Defining a More Purposeful Architecture: A Guide to Current Architectural Trends. Arch Daily.

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April 2020 Toronto Real Estate Market Report

April truly saw the Toronto real estate market in a holding pattern. The number of real estate sales in the 416 area were down over 65% year over year. The average sales price was down slightly but considering the economic shut down, prices held up quite well. The Airbnb and short term rental ban certainly put pressure on smaller condominium sale prices. Rents have also eased over this time as those properties depending on Airbnb rental income were forced to turn to the rental market or sell their income properties. For further information on the April 2020 Toronto Real Estate Market  performance please listen to Chris Kapches, President and CEO of Chestnut Park Limited.

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