The Goldman Group and the Monarch Group have unveiled their plans for a new 39-storey condominium for 318 Richmond Street West in the heart of Toronto's Entertainment District, designed by avant garde architect Stephen Teeple. The exciting plans for Picasso are for a tower of multiple, white-coloured boxes extruding from a dark central core highlighted by red accents. A randomized window pattern and treed terraces add further visual interest to the playfully articulated façade.

Picasso Condos Toronto by the Goldman Group and the Monarch GroupQueen Street view of Picasso Condos by the Goldman Group and the Monarch Group

The planned condominum replaces an earlier attempt by previous owners TAS Design Build to create a condo-hotel project linked to New York's Gansevoort boutique hotel chain. That plan, also by Teeple Architects, had an even more articulated façade reminiscent of Moshe Safdie's Habitat '67 in Montreal. When it was sidelined by the 2008 economic downturn, many UrbanToronto types mourned the missed opportunity for a landmark tower in this location. While some readers will prefer the earlier plan, below, over this one, many have already rejoiced that Teeple Architects were retained by the new owners, and there is no denying that something out-of-the ordinary will be rising here.

Former Toronto Gansevoort condo-hotel project from TAS Design BuildQueen Street view of the former Gansevoort project from TAS Design Build, also by Teeple Architects

Two things to note in the two images: the first is that the same original shot has been used to situate the rendered building in the cityscape, while the second is a lesson in how developers sometimes manipulate the zoning amendment process in this city.

Both plans are for a 39-storey tower of the same height. The TAS plan required a zoning amendment before it could proceed as it was proposed to be much higher than what was allowed by the existing by-law. To minimize concerns about its height, its height was minimized in the rendering: it was squashed to look shorter. The TAS plan received approval, and that 39-storey height limit has now been passed along with the land itself to Goldman/Monarch. As the new proposal has zoning approval and does not have to concern itself with public consultations, there is no attempt in the current renderings to hide how tall this building will actually be, and in fact the new renderings celebrate its real height.

Maybe Toronto has grown up in the intervening years a bit, too. While we still do not rubber-stamp buildings that exceed height limits imposed in existing by-laws, the zeitgeist seems more accepting of the drama and excitement that tall towers can bring when they are in the right locations. Has this change of attitude been helped along by such stand-outs as the new Four Seasons in Yorkville, and the anticipation for such projects as One Bloor and the Ïce towers, both much taller than this project will be? We think yes.

UrbanToronto has created a dataBase page for Picasso. It includes another dozen views of this intriguing building. You can dive in by clicking the link, or you can get involved in the discussion by clicking on one of the associated Forum links.