Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd, Brokerage
HELEN BRAITHWAITE - SALES REPRESENTATIVE
CHESTNUT PARK REAL ESTATE LTD., BROKERAGE
1300 Yonge Street, Suite 100 Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X3
416-925-9191 helenbraithwaite@chestnutpark.com

Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Integral House

I begin the new year by highlighting Integral House, a significant piece of Toronto architecture built by Shim + Sutcliffe architects. Providing the buyer for such a special property was not only one of the highlights of 2020 for me but of my entire real estate career. What makes me happiest is the knowledge that the buyer is the correct custodian to maintain and update this special home so it can be preserved for many years to come.

I am a huge fan of architects and design. I like to see “outside the box” thinking, as well as unique structures and materials, and Integral House checks all those boxes. I am not a fan of the McMansion-style construction often seen in the Bridle Path, Forest Hill and fortunately, less frequently, in Rosedale as it’s a heritage neighbourhood. Construction of Integral House was permitted in Rosedale as it was built on a site with a non-rated property, an existing contemporary home built by Danczkay of  Huang and  Danczkay, builders/developers best known for being behind some of the first condominiums in Toronto at Queen’s Quay.

Integral House has many critics that state it is not a home, but I disagree. Integral House is esoteric and contemporary, pushing the boundaries of residential architecture for sure. According to an Architecture Digest article, December 2014 Glenn Lowry, director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, was quoted as saying Integral house is “one of the most important private houses built in North America in a long time.” The home was designed for James Stewart, a famous mathematician who wrote many school calculus textbooks. Stewart was also an appreciator of the arts, a violinist and a collector of glass vases. When someone chooses to build something so specific to their lifestyle there is a definite compromise to resale value; what worked perfectly for Jim Stewart doesn’t necessarily work for the average Rosedale buyer. Jim didn’t design this house for resale, though, he designed it for his pure enjoyment. Sadly, his enjoyment was cut short when he passed away in 2014. 

Stewart was very involved with the design process. Integral House is actually named after the integral symbol in calculus and these symbols are found throughout the house. Other items on his detailed wish list included:

  • a concert hall with space for entertaining 200 people
  • office space to accommodate the creation of updated editions and all the math textbooks he had published
  • a subtle private space with a large master suite that enjoys the ravine treetop views
  • the requirement that the home be curvaceous, not one continuous curve but rather a series of straight lines to create the curves
  • areas where his collection of glass be showcased throughout the home

I had the pleasure of being in the home while someone played the concert piano; the acoustics are incredible and the sound was hauntingly beautiful. To be one of the select few attending the concerts held in the home would have been pretty special. The private space on the upper floor provides one phenomenal primary bedroom with an upper den as well as a dreamy ensuite washroom overlooking the ravine. There are a few smaller bedrooms down a long hallway, as well as a caretaker’s suite tucked away on the office level. I love how the home is integrated into the ravine in a series of levels and how each level provides the feeling of living in the trees. Stewart had a floor for his office to house all his math textbooks and the lower level consists of a gym and an indoor pool with a retractable wall of glass to bring the outside in!

Photo: Helen Braithwaite (iPhone)

A point of interest is a rich, royal blue glass installation in the stairwell leading to the bedrooms.

I always caution anyone undertaking a new build to create a comprehensive budget. Integral House is so unique and it was such an engineering feat to build it into the ravine that I am sure there were many unforeseen issues. Architects create but they don’t always know how much things cost, so it is best to have a seasoned builder do the number crunching thoroughly before you begin any project. Also make sure the builder chosen is equipped to deal with the complexities of the project. With a design like this one you need a builder who can guide the process to ensure the design is going to function properly. I always say the best architects blend form and function seamlessly.

One thing to know when purchasing an esoteric architectural property is that there will be ongoing maintenance issues.  When architects are creating things that are outside the box they are experimenting a little so results can be unconventional. It is simple to design an HVAC system for a basic builder home, but in a home like Integral House where there are walls of glass, curvaceous rooms, and extreme ceiling height the HVAC system becomes far more complex and more of an industrial system. Also, new technology is developed over time to create better efficiencies. A true custodian is constantly monitoring, tweaking, maintaining. We all know the stories of the maintenance required on Fallingwater and other Frank Lloyd Wright properties. The Eames House in the Pacific Palisades is undergoing an entire restoration to maintain the house to the level it was built. In other words, if you are thinking of purchasing a signature property, understand that you are also taking on a labour of love. Exterior sections of  Integral House are clad in wood, which is problematic with our harsh winters and humid summers. It requires constant staining and a prior owner had attempted to put a marine grade finish on the wood for protection. I am just happy that my buyer understands what it takes to bring a significant piece of architecture to its glory and is already working away to fine tune this beautiful home.

For more details on Integral House, be sure to watch the Azure video. It is wonderful to hear James Stewart proudly discuss the home and the intricate details of his collaboration with Shim+Sutcliffe Architects.

I hope you are enjoying my architecture blog pieces and if there is anyone you would like me to highlight I am open to suggestions!

Best,

Helen Braithwaite

  • Real Estate Representative, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited
  • Chairman’s Award 2017-2019

Photos from Architectural Digest


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Happy New Year!

Today we say farewell to 2020 and I see many posts saying good riddance to a terrible year. 2020 was indeed a challenging year. My thoughts go out to those who lost loved ones this year or suffered a job loss.  

I do like to think about the silver linings. 2020 has made us rethink how we live, what really matters to us, what is our bubble?  2020 also made us slow down a little and enjoy some calm in our lives not having to rush everywhere due to lockdowns. 

It was a terrible year for small businesses but many have adapted to the virtual world 🌎 

When the pandemic first hit we all thought real estate 🏡 would implode but it has been quite the contrary. People had to rethink how they live and it has been a disruptor to normal course real estate. Small condos in downtown Toronto have flooded the market and the 905 outperformed the 416 area code in the number of sales for the 1st time in 15 years this November.

I am very grateful to have had a very successful 2020 helping people find the property that suits their new reality with a mix of downsizing, upsizing, corporate transfers, first time buyers and growing families. It was wonderful to mentor @sellwithmichelle and see her flourish working with first time buyers and assisting with many leases.

We move forward with hope for the future with the vaccine 💉 coming soon however 2020 has taught us we are more fragile than we had thought. Mother Nature has sent us a strong message. Let’s hope we learn from 2020 and change our habits moving forward and realize not to take freedom, health and our planet 🌎 earth for granted. 

Farewell 2020 I will take the good, the bad and the ugly from you as I have learned a lot from you. 

On that note 📝 I am off to percolate my goals and aspirations for 2021! 

  • Helen Braithwaite
  • Real Estate Representative
  • Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited
  • Chairman’s Award 2017-2019

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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: “12 Days of Giving” 2020

Social media has been flooded with many “12 Days of Christmas” giveaways. What a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit! During the COVID-19 pandemic, the real estate industry has remained relatively unaffected as we are considered an essential business. We’ve proceeded with COVID-19 protocols in place that allow us to safely carry out our work. For that I feel grateful and I would like to give back to the community. For 12 days, I have been making donations to a different Toronto charity each day and I hope to encourage my followers to join me, the links to the organizations are listed below. Giving back is a sure way to get into the festive spirit under difficult circumstances.

The first charity was Salvation Army’s Toy Mountain, Toymountain.ca  You can make a cash donation safely from your home or drop off a toy at various locations in the city. When you support the Salvation Army and Toy Mountain you are making the joy of Christmas possible to families struggling to make ends meet. No child should wake up Christmas morning without a gift under the tree. A small gesture can go a long way to putting a smile on a child’s face at Christmas.

For my second day of giving, I donated to Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. The pandemic has brought added stress to many households and sadly, domestic abuse is on the rise. Ernestine’s shelter provides a safe haven for women and children fleeing abuse by offering them a roof over their head, as well as the support and assistance they require to start their new chapter in life.

For Day 3 of giving, I donated to CAMH. I am proud to say that Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited has also provided a generous donation to CAMH, using the funds that had been allocated to our annual Christmas party, which will instead be virtual this year. The pandemic has caused increased anxiety, substance abuse issues and a higher suicide rate. It is a worthy cause to help those that need mental health treatment. Please remember it is never too late to ask for help. We are all vulnerable now as we endure social isolation and feel a little helpless as we watch the COVID-19 numbers rise worldwide. Together we stay strong as 2021 will bring a vaccine.

For Day 4 of giving, I donated to The Stop, an organization in Wychwood Barns that provides healthy nutritious meals to the underprivileged.  Many of us sheltering at home have the luxury of buying food online, ordering takeout or trying a prepared meal service. There are small businesses struggling and food banks are low on food due to a higher volume of people relying on them.

Day 5 of giving was to Children’s Book Bank, an organization located in the heart of Regent Park that provides books to kids to improve literacy and encourage a love of reading. The Children’s Book Bank is a great spot to drop off those gently used books your kids are finished with where they will get a new life and make a child’s day. The Book Bank is run by a team of enthusiastic volunteers who have actually worked through COVID-19 as the community relies on it. It is underfunded and without generous donations it couldn’t stay operating.

Day 6 of giving was toward an organization dear to my heart, Camp Oochigeas, located in Muskoka with a Toronto location for day camp activities. This camp is truly magical in that it gives children fighting cancer a little break from it all and provides them the opportunity to participate in campfires, water sports and arts and crafts.  I have participated consistently in the Muskoka Rocks 10K and the Sporting Life 10K to support this cause. This year I ran both races virtually. In the face of COVID-19, the camp couldn’t operate this year, so they came up with “Camp in a Box” to give the children some camp activities to do remotely. Here’s hoping the camp is back up and running in 2021 as it is a fabulous experience for kids with cancer.

Day 7 of giving was a donation to Front Line Fund. This fund goes to help hospitals and health care workers across Canada fight COVID-19. Resources are tight and hospitals need all the help they can get. Christmas will be smaller gatherings this year and it makes for a different Christmas. We need to keep mindful that we are helping all the health care workers by staying home and social distancing to help keep the numbers down. Hospitals are getting to capacity, so any contribution can possibly help with an extra nurse in ICU, more PPE and increased testing capabilities.

For Day 8 of giving, I have donated to Daily Bread Food Bank.  This organization was involved in the #TorontoMiracle, a food drive that took place December 5th throughout the city. Food can still be dropped off at fire stations and participating grocery stores in the city. I have dropped items off at a nearby Metro store.   Daily Bread Food Bank is also happy to receive cash donations to buy the appropriate items the food bank may be low on.

For Day 9, I chose to donate to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital. This Christmas will be different for all of us, limiting the sizes of gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As tough as this will be for some, we need to remember there are kids that have to spend Christmas in the hospital. Sick Kids is a world-renowned hospital and they continue to make progress against many childhood illnesses. I am happy to contribute to that cause. Ryan Reynolds is a huge supporter of Sick Kids and his Ugly Christmas Sweater adorns the entrance for Toronto Sick Kids to encourage donations. Samsung will match donations made up to December 24th up to $100,000.

On Day 10, I chose to donate to Habitat for Humanity. As a Realtor, I see both the importance of home ownership and the pride of ownership. To see the transformations to people’s lives when they are provided a home is truly heartwarming. I love the fact that they have the recipients participate in the construction of their home and that they also get to see what the many selfless volunteers are doing to help them attain their dream of a home. I have volunteered multiple times with this charity, and it is very fulfilling. In lieu of volunteering, Habitat for Humanity always welcomes cash donations.

For Day 11 of giving, I chose to donate to Evergreen, a charity that is part of the Brick Works and many other environmental projects across Canada. I have been a regular ravine walker since moving to Toronto over 30 years ago. It is my mindful time. There has been a lot of talk recently about nature and mental health. The Japanese call this forest bathing, as walking through nature (barefoot in their culture) creates a feeling of calmness. I have noticed since COVID-19 began in March there are far more people out enjoying the wonderful trail system that Toronto has to offer. I think it is one of the silver linings in all this. People are stepping away from technology and Zoom calls to enjoy nature and get fresh air! Evergreen Brick Works is ever-expanding and offers a host of outdoor programs and events for the community and is a worthy cause that is helping to keep Toronto in tune with nature.

On Day 12, I donated to Coveted Canines. Those that know me understand what a dog lover I am. This organization rescues dogs from terrible situations and finds a forever home for them as well as many foster homes in place. Coveted Canines founder Carly Werle also has Coveted Kennels and Sanctuary just outside the city of Toronto where she now also takes in Pigs, Goats, Chickens and more.  She sells her farm fresh eggs and will deliver them too Toronto. Any animal rescued by this organization will have a new lease on life!


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Nordic Architecture

For my final blog of the year I thought I would feature Nordic architecture, the perfect thing to highlight in December. A few years ago I wrote a blog on both Hygge (meaning: cozy and comfy) and Lagom (meaning: living with just the right amount) both Nordic terms, but I never actually touched on Nordic architecture. It is known for its clean lines and functionality and the themes of sustainability and embracing the environment.

Bjarke Ingels BIG

We have already highlighted Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’ firm BIG, the design team behind KING Toronto and the Shangri-La Hotel and Residences.

BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes. Not least due to the influence from multicultural exchange, global economical flows and communication technologies that all together require new ways of architectural and urban organization. We believe that in order to deal with today’s challenges, architecture can profitably move into a field that has been largely unexplored. A pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism. Like a form of programmatic alchemy we create architecture by mixing conventional ingredients such as living, leisure, working, parking and shopping. By hitting the fertile overlap between pragmatic and utopia, we architects once again find the freedom to change the surface of our planet, to better fit contemporary life forms. Source:BIG.dk

KING Toronto Architectural Model

Todd Saunders

In addition to Ingels, there are many other significant Nordic architects to highlight, starting with Todd Saunders of Saunders Architecture. Saunders was born in Canada and is the genius behind Newfoundland and Labrador’s iconic Fogo Island Inn and Squish Studio on Fogo Island.

Fogo Island Inn

Saunders Architecture was founded by the Canadian architect Todd Saunders in 1998. Saunders has lived and worked in Bergen since 1996, following his studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and McGill University in Montreal. Saunders has lectured and taught at schools in Norway, Scandinavia and Canada and was a visiting professor at The University of Quebec in Montreal and Cornell University in the USA. He continues to combine teaching with practice. Source: Saunders.no

The philosophy of Saunders Architecture is described below.

Bringing together dynamic building and material experimentation with traditional methods of craft, Bergen-based Saunders Architecture has worked on cultural and residential projects right across Norway, as well as England, Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Canada.

Led by a strong contemporary design sensibility, the studio believes that architecture must play an important role in creating place, using form, materials and texture to help evoke and shape memory and human interaction. The office operates within existing natural as well as manmade contexts, with examples ranging from an award nominated dramatic viewpoint structure set amidst a rich protected landscape to several new-build houses within more traditional suburban settings. Source:Saunders.no

Squish Studio, Fogo Island

It is so nice to have Canadian talent on the world architectural platform! It is clear Fogo Island Inn and Squish Studio are integrated into their environment, yet still provide striking architecture, views of the surroundings and both Hygge and Lagom.

Asante

Asante is another firm worth noting. Asante means ‘thank you’ in Swahili, and that is the premise to Asante’s architectural practise, thanking mother earth.

We believe that architecture and design plays an integral role when creating a sustainable environment. To us, great design is the use of durable and authentic materials with an understanding of specific environmental and cultural conditions. For all projects, at any scale, great design means caring for the people you are building for. Asante means thank you in Swahili, the name was chosen as a sign of gratitude for our first project to design a new children’s center for Econef, an organization in Tanzania, a project that founded the philosophy behind Asante. Asante Architecture & Design is located in Stockholm, Sweden and was established by Frida Öster and Carolina Wikström shortly after they graduated from the Royal Institute of Technology. The idea for Asante was first conceived when they both returned to Stockholm from their studies abroad, Frida from Paris and Carolina from Berlin. Today it is a studio on the rise with the vision of creating beautiful and sustainable architecture and design wherever the opportunity arises. Source:Asante.se.

A great example of Asante’s work is Hadar’s House which was featured in ArchDaily. It blends beautifully into the landscape, including the green roof.

I have highlighted just a few noted Nordic architects. More can be found in the link below.

Famous Scandinavian Architects

I wish everyone a lovely holiday with plenty of Hygge as we all stay in our bubbles this Christmas season. Stay well, and we hopefully will have some normalcy for 2021.

Cheers,

Helen Braithwaite, Real Estate Representative, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited Chairman’s Award 2017-2020


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate’s November Architectural Highlight: LOHA

Lorcan O’Herlihy Original House

LOHA

This November marks the second anniversary of the devastating Woolsey fire that destroyed many homes, including ours, in Southern California, so it seemed like the right time to highlight Lorcan O’Herlihy (LOHA), an architect  based out of Detroit and Los Angeles and with whom we have a personal relationship.

Lorcan was fresh out of architecture school when he was working for a firm in New York City and trying to find his way in the architectural world. Meanwhile, his parents had purchased a piece of property up in the Santa Monica, CA mountains that had exceptional mountain and ocean views. Lorcan was hired by his parents to create a modest, minimal, Spanish-inspired home that related to this unique site. This simple piece of architecture ended up being highlighted in Architectural Record in 1986, and it became the house that launched Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects (LOHA). Lorcan promptly moved back to California and set up shop. 

Lorcan’s father sadly passed away and the property was sold a few times and renovated into various versions of this lovely, simple box structure with high ceilings, perched on the side of the mountain. On a whim, after enjoying everything about our visits to California, we began looking for a property to buy. We purchased the property O’Herlihy designed for his parents in 2010, and renovated the house to suit our style, opening the home to the amazing views and adding sliding glass doors, refreshing the landscaping and adding an outdoor seating area and some indigenous plantings. To us, it was pretty much perfect, still maintaining the simple original architecture while further incorporating the views into the interiors. 

Lorcan O’Herlihy Original Home

The Woolsey fires hit in November 2018, as we happened to be there visiting, and we followed all protocols and evacuated assuming there was fire support. Unfortunately, there was no way the firefighters could fight the fire as it was a 14-mile long, 40-foot wall of flames moving the equivalent of one football field a minute. Many of the local firefighters were in Northern California fighting other blazes in that area. We received an early morning call to evacuate and off we went, grabbing a small suitcase each and that was about it. In the moment our thoughts were on fleeing to safety first and foremost.  We were fortunate to be able to settle into a hotel and at 11pm that night we were called and told that our home was a total loss.  Obviously there was the initial stage of shock, despair and grief but also relief that we were all safe and well. We can replace things but we can’t replace people. We quickly realized that the only road to recovery was re-birth. Knowing the history of the home, including the name of the architect that designed the home originally for his parents in 1985, made it an easy decision to select LOHA to design our new home.  It just organically felt like the right thing to do. So far we have no regrets and the project is moving ahead using board form concrete instead of wood frame stucco with the hope of avoiding any structure loss from future fires. The new design also encompasses passive design that uses elements of the home to provide warmth in winter and keep it cool in summer. There will be an expanse of windows to capture the beautiful views, but they will have a higher R rating to provide greater fire protection and insulation. 

New Design – Living Room Ocean View

LOHA Exterior Design

LOHA Living Room Design Mountain View

We were aware LOHA was an innovative architecture firm and through visiting their offices in downtown LA and following them on social media, we learned what significant work  they are doing for social housing around the world, which is what I really want to highlight in this blog post. I’ve often worried during our design process we were taking the team away from some of these amazing initiatives they are concurrently working on. 

LOHA PHILOSOPHY…

“Good architecture is no longer about simply designing buildings as isolated objects, but about meeting head on the forces that are shaping our world.” Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects [LOHA] believes that architecture is a social act, a tool for engaging in economics, politics, aesthetics, and smart growth to promote social equity and cultural evolution. As cities grow at an unprecedented pace and people are living closer together, it is more important than ever to design sustainable spaces that encourage human interaction.

Our work derives from, and speaks to, a site’s history and culture, and is more importantly for the people who are living there. We begin each project with the facts on the ground, working from the bottom up, not the top down. Our vision is to create places where people want to live and work, where they can attach to the roots that are there, and plant some of their own. You might say we are engaged in the aesthetics of living.”

St Clair 3100

My first LOHA project to highlight is actually “blue-sky work” they did in the GTA. St. Clair 3100  is a “creatively reimagined mid-rise design solution for one of Toronto’s up and coming suburban neighbourhoods.” This mixed-use, multi-unit housing project was developed in collaboration with Toronto’s Globe and Mail, as part of an investigation into unconventional ideas that can creatively reshape the landscape of the City. LOHA’s proposed project is in Toronto’s Scarborough area and incorporates “porosity and connectivity at multiple scales—stepping up and down to the existing neighbourhood and responding to the considerations of the established neighbourhood condition.”

Streetscape Visualization, Detroit Neighbourhood Study

Detroit Neighbourhood Study

My second project to highlight is work LOHA did in Detroit, Michigan. There, LOHA collaborated with the City of Detroit in a neighbourhood study for underprivileged communities, providing ideas for improving the streetscape and enhancing cultural preservation and public open space. They also included green storm water infrastructure, land strategies and ideas for economic revitalization.

MLK1101 Social Housing Project in Los Angeles

LOHA has also done work in LA creating social housing. The next LOHA project I want to highlight is one for which they teamed up with Clifford Beers Housing to respond to an urgent need for social housing. The MLK1101 project created homes for veterans, the homeless and low income households. Together they transformed a vacant lot in South LA into an affordable community of 26 units. Further details can be found in this link MLK 110 Supportive Housing

Sun King Social Housing

Just outside Los Angeles, in the Sun Valley area of the San Fernando Valley, they have worked on another social housing project known as  Sun King Supportive Housing. Each project exhibits Lorcan’s belief that artistry and social connectivity are key to building vibrant spaces that elevate the human condition.

“Big Blue Bus” Shelter Design Elements

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus Shelters

Those of you who have been to Santa Monica might have seen the Big Blue bus stops. LOHA worked with Bruce Mau Design to create clever waiting areas for individual shelters, taking each site into consideration with a highly flexible, modular system of components that can be adjusted for each of the 300 bus stops as well as for customization of future stops.

University of Santa Barbara, Student Housing

LOHA has designed a LEED Platinum plan for seven student housing structures as part of the San Joaquin Housing complex at the northern limit of the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Watershed Project

One of the LOHA projects I find most fascinating is the Watershed Project which addressed the issue of climate change and lower rain volumes in California.  “According to current climate change projections by the United Nations, almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.”

California has suffered years of drought conditions and there is currently no comprehensive plan to take action towards water preservation and management. The Watershed Project comes up with viable options for water managment. “LOHA designed a system of interventions at multiple scales, combining living, public space and water-based infrastructure into a new hybrid patchwork that will capture, recycle, purify, loop, and reconnect ground and stormwater back to the water table and the Los Angeles River.”

 

Flynn Mews Home, Dublin, Ireland

Lorcan’s Irish heritage brought him to design this home that is a blend of old world Dublin and a contemporary addition. The Flynn Mews House is the perfect juxtaposition between old and new.

These are just a few highlights of the great designs coming from LOHA and I am sure there are many more to come. We look forward to our project being completed in 2022 to enjoy our special site that will be an improved version of the original LOHA design.

Happy November,

Helen Braithwaite, Real Estate Representative, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited

Chairman’s Award 2017-2019

Original Lorcan O’Herlihy Home Split Door into Kitchen


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Three Grand Penthouse Suites in Tridel’s New FORM Condominium

An opportunity not to be missed: to lease a unit in Tridel’s newly completed FORM building at Queen and McCaul, a boutique building with just fourteen floors.

“New dimensions. Life redefined. A place in which art and architecture shape the imagination.Where boundaries are pushed, limits defied and the expected gives way to the exceptional. This is where inspiration takes FORM.

A dramatic stepped profile articulated by stacked cantilevered volumes. The rhythmic interplay of glass, textures and planes, FORM occupies the space between singular landmark architecture and thoughtful urban design. Boldly conceived, beautifully considered, this distinctive masterpiece presents a striking figure on the lively streetscape embodyingthe artistic energy of its surroundings.” TRIDEL

Views Down to Queen Street

The FORM Front Lobby

The condominium overlooks Grange Park and OCAD’s Tabletop structure. The FORM at 50 McCaul Street is located steps to OCAD, Ryerson, U of T, hospitals and Queen Street West. The FORM continues with Tridel’s promise of “Green For Life “™  as Tridel utilized cast-in-place CarbonCure concrete for FORM. CarbonCure is a concrete that produces low CO2 emissions and is therefore environmentally friendly.  Jaga Clima Canal is an  innovative new heating and cooling system also used in The FORM. It is nice to see a developer looking for new innovations in their design.

OCAD Table-Top Structure

These three units located on the 14th floor are brand new and have never been lived in! They are just waiting for prime tenants to enjoy these spaces on the exclusive Grand Penthouse level. The 14th floor offers a spacious north-facing rooftop terrace with BBQ and overlooks the Grange Park. There is also a private dining area on the 14th floor.

14th Floor Private Dining Room

The FORM also has a gym, lounge and main floor private dining area.

Rooftop Terrace

Main Floor Gym with Cardio, Weight and Yoga Areas

Main Floor Lounge

Grand Penthouse 08: Offered for Sale Exclusively $2,295,000

Virtual Tour

Spacious Open. Living Area.

This 3+1 bedroom, 3 bathroom unit is 1973 square feet! The suite has a split plan layout, with the principal bedroom to the south end of the unit and the two other bedrooms on the north end of the suite. The unit offers fabulous open concept living with 10 foot ceilings! Light-stained hardwood floors throughout the bedrooms and living area give a nice  contemporary feel. There is the added bonus of an office space tucked away off the foyer, which is very important during this work from home phase. The kitchen has white gloss cabinetry and quartz counters with KitchenAid appliances including a white gloss panelled refrigerator, ceramic cooktop, stainless steel oven, stainless steel microwave and white gloss panelled dishwasher. The unit has three very spacious bathrooms all with marble floors and a contemporary vanity with undermount sink. The ensuite laundry provides a stacking Whirlpool washer and dryer plus a laundry sink. Included is one parking spot and one locker to complete this fine lease offering. It is rare to find a mint condition condominium of this size for sale with 3+1 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Not to be missed!

Contemporary Kitchen with Quartz Countertops and a Generous Island with Seating Area

In Suite Laundry Room with Sink and Storage

Office Space Tucked Away off the Foyer

 

Northeast View

Nice Marble Master Bathroom with Double Sink and Contemporary Vanity

Bedroom with Views to City Hall

 

Grand Penthouse 15: Offered for Lease at $5500 per month

Spacious Open Concept Living with an Industrial Feel

Bedroom Has Tree Top Views and Juliet Balcony

This two bedroom unit is very spacious at 1642 square feet with lovely treetop views looking west. This unit retained an industrial feel with exposed concrete and an open ceiling to give extremely high ceilings beyond 10 feet.  The split plan layout offers privacy for roommates and each bedroom has an ensuite washroom. There is also a powder room tucked off the foyer for guests.  The kitchen is light and bright with white gloss cabinetry, Caesarstone countertops and KitchenAid appliances including a white gloss panelled refrigerator, ceramic cooktop, stainless steel oven, stainless steel microwave and white gloss panelled dishwasher.

Master Bathroom

Grand Penthouse 17: Leased for $2400 per month

Great Natural Light with North and West Facing Windows Including a Juliet Balcony

White Kitchen with Quartz Countertops

This unit did not last long. We have already secured a quality tenant for this unit. One lucky tenant! Grand Penthouse 17  is a spacious one bedroom and one bathroom corner unit that is 760 square feet. This unit boasts high ceilings (over 1o feet), and windows north and west provide great natural light into the suite. There is a lovely living area with a spacious kitchen offering white gloss cabinetry, quartz counters and KitchenAid appliances including a white gloss panelled refrigerator, ceramic cooktop, stainless steel oven, and a stainless steel microwave. The Juliet balcony off the living area provides lovely fresh air into the suite. The North view is of the 14th floor terrace gardens which will grow in to add privacy, plus there are blinds to lower if needed. Note the Terrace is closed from the end of October to Spring 2021.

Another Terrace View!

The Full Photo Tour of the Suites and Building.

Please reach out to us for a private showing of any of these pristine suites. GPH 8 will be staged and up on MLS shortly.

Helen Braithwaite,  Real Estate Representative, Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited

Chairman’s Award 2017-2019


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: Isamu Noguchi , a Significant Mid-century Designer

Isamu Noguchi

As we continue to highlight architects each month, I wanted to also include famous designers who focused on designing home furnishings and lighting, two critical elements to completing an architectural home. The first name that came to my mind was Isamu Noguchi. Noguchi was born in 1904 in Los Angeles, California to an American mother and a Japanese father. When he was an infant, the family moved to Japan and he lived there until the age of 13. He then settled in Indiana with his mother, making frequent trips between the United States and Japan throughout the rest of his childhood. This blending of experiences between two completely different cultures at a young age probably helped to feed his creativity. Noguchi was actually in pre-medicine at Columbia when he decided to take sculpture classes in the evenings and he was eventually mentored by sculptor Onorio Ruotolo. He soon left the university to become an academic sculptor.

Brancusi sculptures were a big influence for Noguchi’s sculptural work as you can see in the photos below.

Constantin Brancusi Sculpture

Noguchi, Isamu, untitled ||| abstract

On a 1926 visit to New York Noguchi saw an exhibition of the work of Constantin Brancusi that profoundly changed his artistic direction. With a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Noguchi went to Paris, and in 1927, worked in Brancusi’s studio. Inspired by the older artist’s forms and philosophy, Noguchi turned to modernism and abstraction, infusing his highly finished pieces with a lyrical and emotional expressiveness, and also with an aura of mystery.

Any of the Ikea paper lamps you have seen are most definitely an influence of Noguchi’s famous Akari Light Sculptures. He created the first two lamps in Gifu, a town in Japan known for the production of parasols, using paper, washi tape and bamboo. This line eventually expanded to hanging, wall and floor lamps in all shapes and sizes. 

Noguchi was also a sculpture artist who created buildings, public art and furniture. Vitra continues to produce the iconic Noguchi coffee table which has a three-legged wooden sculptural base and a curvaceous glass top. To me, this table exemplifies the influence Brancusi had on the sculptor.

Noguchi was not well known until 1940, when he completed a large-scale sculpture symbolizing the freedom of the press, which was commissioned in 1938 for the Associated Press Building in Rockefeller Center, New York City. This was the first of what would eventually become numerous celebrated public works worldwide, ranging from playgrounds to plazas, gardens to fountains, all reflecting his belief in the social significance of sculpture.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Japanese Americans in the United States had a dramatic personal effect on Noguchi, motivating him to become a political activist. In 1942, he cofounded Nisei Writers and Artists Mobilization for Democracy, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the patriotism of Japanese Americans and voluntarily entered the Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston) incarceration camp in Arizona where he remained for six months.

Noguchi was quite unique as he did not belong to any particular movement, but rather collaborated with artists working in a range of disciplines and schools. He created stage sets as early as 1935 for Martha Graham, beginning a lifelong collaboration, and also worked with choreographers Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins and George Balanchine as well as composer John Cage. In the 1960s, Noguchi began working with stone carver Masatoshi Izumi on the island of Shikoku, Japan, a collaboration that would also continue for the rest of his life. From 1961 to 1966, he worked on a playground design with the architect Louis Kahn.

In 1985, Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York. The museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces. Located in a 1920s industrial building across the street from where the artist had established a studio in 1960, it has a serene outdoor sculpture garden and many galleries that display Noguchi’s work, along with photographs, drawings and models from his career. He also indicated that his studio in Mure, Japan be preserved to inspire artists and scholars, a wish that was fulfilled with the opening of the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan in 1999.

Noguchi’s first retrospective in the United States was in 1968, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City and in 1986, he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982, the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986, the National Medal of Arts in 1987, and the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988. He died in New York City in 1988.Noguchi’s design influence can still be found in many of the new furniture designs of the 21st century. His abstract works, based on both natural and geometric forms, provided his career with a distinct direction and established him as a key figure in the worlds of mid-century art, architecture and design.

 


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate Market September 2020

We have run out of superlatives to describe the greater Toronto residential resale marketplace. Records have been broken consistently for the last few months, and September was no exception. Two records were shattered in September: most sales ever recorded for the month, and the highest average sale price for all properties reported sold.

In September 11,083 residential resale properties were reported sold. This is more properties reported sold than in any previous September. By comparison, last September 7,791 properties were reported sold. This year’s sales were 42.3 percent higher than reported sales in 2019. September’s sales brought the year-to-date total to 68,793, 1 percent higher than the number of reported sales at the same period last year. This means that in the last four months the market has made up for the momentum lost during the implementation of the lockdowns and the provincial emergency measures designed to contain the spread of the Coronavirus in March.

The second record was the average sale price for all properties sold. In September it came in at $960,772. The previous record was set in August at $951,536, and the record before that was set in July at $943,609. September marks the fourth consecutive month in which a new average sale price record has been set. It is almost unfathomable that in April the average sale price was only $820,222. Since April it has increased by 17 percent.

It should be noted that in the city of Toronto the average sale price came in at $1,022,051. This is an astounding number when it is remembered that of the 3,551 recorded sales in the city of Toronto, 1,549, or 44 percent, were condominium apartments. During the pandemic condominium apartments have been out of favour. Buyers have sought out ground level properties that offer outdoor space. In September the average sale price for all condominium apartments sold only rose by 7 percent compared to the same month last year. Detached home prices increased by 28 percent and semi-detached home prices by almost 50 percent (in the city of Toronto).

For the third consecutive month more listings came to market compared to the same month last year. In September 20,420 new properties came to market, a 31 percent increase compared to the 15,616 that came to market last September. Due to the incredible absorption rate in September (11,083 sales), at month end there were 18,167 properties available to buyers, a mere 5 percent increase compared to the 17,254 available last year. In order to experience a balanced market, the marketplace would require an available inventory of at least 25,000 active listings. It is not surprising, given the absorption rate, that throughout the greater Toronto area all properties (on average) sold in just 16 days.

During the pandemic there has been an explosion of higher priced property sales. In September 461 properties having a sale price of $2 million or more were reported sold. This represents an 86 percent increase compared to the 248 properties reported sold in 2019. No doubt the need for space, coupled with historically low interest rates (5 year mortgage rates at less than 2 percent) have driven those that can afford it to larger more expensive properties.

September’s market data provides some empirical proof that buyers are looking for space and ground level properties far from the core of the city of Toronto. Although sales were strong in the city of Toronto – 3,555 sales which amounted to a 20 percent increase compared to the 2,987 properties reported sold in 2019 – that paled compared to what happened in Toronto’s 905 region.

Of the 11,083 reported sales in September, 7,528 of them were in the 905 region. Last September only 4,804 properties were reported sold in the region. Year-over-year this represents a 57 percent increase in the number of sales, substantially and dramatically higher than the city of Toronto. Also, in September, the average price rose by approximately 12 percent in the city of Toronto but by almost 17 percent in the 905 region with South Simcoe County, the region furthest north from Toronto, registering an average sale price increase of 20 percent compared to last year. At this rate average prices in the 905 region will not remain lower than prices in the city of Toronto for much longer. The average priced property in the 905 region, however, does buy more land, and more space compared to similarly priced properties in Toronto. It should be noted that some districts in the 905 region have also become pricey. In September the average price in Halton region was $1,087,859 and $1,066,380 in Peel, both higher than the average price for all properties sold in Toronto ($1,022,051).

Early data for October indicates that it will be as robust as September. Those buyers that have had not been directly and economically affected by the pandemic continue their quest to purchase properties that not only meet their needs but that can act as a sanctuary in these uncertain times. They do so while having access to mortgage financing at less than the rate of inflation.

PREPARED BY:
Chris Kapches, LLB, President and CEO, Broker

CHESTNUT PARK REAL ESTATE LIMITED, BROKERAGE | CHESTNUTPARK.COM

 


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Toronto Luxury Real Estate: A Turnkey Opportunity in Lawrence Park SOLD

After a whirlwind week launching this stunning property to market we are pleased to say it sold, attracting seven offers within three days of listing, and ultimately selling well above the list price (107%).  The average number of days on market for that area is 29 days for new listings and 44 when you include re-listed properties!

My clients had made it clear that they did not want it to sit on market for a long time, so we came up with a unique marketing strategy for a successful sale within a short period of time. Everyone has a different story and every home is unique, so it is key to be mindful of your client’s wishes while working to highlight the features of a property that make it stand out over others.

It was a pleasure working on this sale as we have very happy sellers and a lovely young couple about to start their new chapter in this beautiful Lawrence Park home. My mantra is always “a successful deal is one where sellers and buyers are happy with the result!”

A Turnkey Opportunity in Lawrence Park

278 St. Leonard’s Crescent 

This home in the wonderful Lawrence Park community has been maintained meticulously by the same family for over 25 years. The moment you walk through the front door you can see the exceptional quality. The house was a mid-century gem originally built in 1964. The current owners renovated when they bought the home in 1993, then re-renovated and expanded it in 2002. Lorne Rose Architect and JTF Homes were the team in the redesign and renovation with Melody Duron assisting with the interior design. It checks all the boxes, with gracious principal rooms, a custom gourmet kitchen, a main floor home office/den, main floor family room, mudroom, stunning principal suite, large recreation room, home gym and beautifully landscaped property with a private garden created by renowned landscape architect Egils Didrichsons. 

The location is ideal and close to Toronto French School, Crescent School, the Granite Club, Sunnybrook Park and Cheltenham Park. The Shops at Don Mills, Pusateri’s, Summerhill Market and the many shops and restaurants on Bayview Avenue are also close by. HoodQ report for 278 St Leonard’s Avenue for further neighbourhood details

Offered for sale at $3,595,000 

4+1 Bedroom, 5 Bathroom, 1 car garage

Matterport 3D tour of 278 St. Leonard’s Avenue 

Stylish main floor den provides the perfect work from home space!

Spacious dining room is fit for any dinner party!

Formal living room for elegant gatherings

Main floor powder room

Family room is open to the gourmet kitchen

The family room is the perfect spot to unwind with the family after a long day

Kitchen has a large island with seating and provides a great workspace for any chef!

Stainless steel appliances

The servery is the perfect place to prepare your evening cocktail!

Principal bedroom has neutral decor, a stunning gas fireplace and a comfortable seating area. A lovely space for a dreamy night’s sleep.

The spacious principal bedroom has French doors out to a balcony

Balcony off the principal bedroom overlooking the garden

 

The spa-like principal washroom has custom cabinetry with a double marble vanity, an undermount soaker tub with marble deck, separate shower enclosure and toilet room

Principal walk-in closet has ample storage and hanging space including a wall for shoe storage and also has room to add an island if needed. Home Edit would love this space to organize!

South-facing second bedroom has room for a queen size bed, custom closets and a built-in desk

South-facing third bedroom

Fourth bedroom overlooks the landscaped garden

Second floor washroom services the third and fourth bedrooms

Spacious lower level recreation room with stone fireplace and room for two spacious seating areas or seating and a pool table. A perfect play area for kids or teen hang-out spot!

Lower level laundry room with large sink and plenty of storage and hanging space

Lower level washroom that is perfect for the nanny suite

The coveted home gym with fabulous ceiling height that can even accommodate a Woodway treadmill!

Nicely landscaped yard with stone patio, fountain and built-in BBQ that is perfect for outdoor entertaining

A pretty view of the rear of the home and the beautiful old growth oak tree

Landscaping truly has given this yard complete privacy from neighbours to create an urban oasis


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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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