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Friday, July 04, 2008

L Tower and Sony Centre redevelopment, Toronto, Canada

Postponement for Toronto L-tower design as crunch means investors are slow to pay
The doors have closed on Toronto's Sony Centre this week to make way for a revamp due to bring the building into the 21st century. Studio Daniel Libeskind has designed an L shaped tower that will envelope the 50-year-old Sony Centre for the Performing Arts - formerly the Hummingbird centre – at the corner of Yonge and Front in Toronto, Canada.

The redevelopment of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts has been designed to boast the new L Tower Condominiums, an arts and cultural facility dubbed the Arts and Heritage Awareness Centre (AHA) and the revamped existing theater structure.

However, while the commercially viable L-tower residential block will continue without hesitation, local Canadian publication, the Globe and Mail reports that the AHA, which was to be the justifying centre of the development, is getting to grips with the credit crunch as it faces further financing delays. The AHA, costing C$75 million, was due to receive C$60 million of senior government funding and private donation by December last year but the funds are yet to be seen. Despite an extention until September 2008 there is little hope that the funds will be received and there is talk that the centre could transform from a cultural hub to a retail haunt.

Libeskind’s design proposal held the cultural component of the L Tower and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts central to the concept - offering a fresh residential approach promising to integrate inner city life with culture and the arts. His design is conceptually engaged with the programmatic and experiential intentions of the ArtsLab. It achieves this via a formal and spatial strategy articulated through a central void in the building. This collective space, in the form of a semi-sphere, is a cultural hub, symbolic and functional, evoking in form the global diversity of cultures present in Toronto and celebrated throughout the program.

Yet the residential tower component comprises the majority (428,000 sq ft) of the overall redesign. Situated atop the cultural facilities, it will contain approximately 470 units and rise to a height of 57 stories, providing views over downtown Toronto and Ontario. The L Tower will have a concrete structure with glass curtain wall and window wall cladding. Prices of the desirable apartment’s suites start at C$ 589,900 and penthouses range from C$ 950,000 to C$ 2.5 million. While the residential tower will doubtless continue as planned, Toronto plays a waiting game to see if the heart of the L tower will be one of commercial or cultural significance.

Laura Salmi and Niki May Young
architecture NOW

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