Pharrell Williams’ first condo design coming to Toronto

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Pharrell Williams’ first condo design coming to Toronto


Pharrell Williams has changed his tune.

The music man who made the world “clap along” with his mega-hit “Happy” six years ago is bringing to one of Toronto’s most dynamic neighbourhoods a condominium development styled with a “calming energy.”

The zen component will be water — a key feature in the Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave.-area project that Williams helped design for local builders Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties.

“Water represents life … it has an energy to it, it rejuvenates, it sustains and provokes flow,” Williams, a 13-time Grammy Award winner, told the Star in a phone interview from Miami, Fla.

Water will infuse the project’s dual towers and connecting podium — trickling down interior walls, sparkling in the courtyard, and instilling a sense of tranquility in the spa. A large mirror is planned for above the pool.

It was important that a “consistent sense of calm was never disturbed,” Williams said of his idea to incorporate the natural element into the 750-unit complex called “untitled.”

A software program created a pattern using Williams' song "Gust of Wind" for the balconies.

Not that the American singer/songwriter and music producer has dialed back his own energetic pace. His “very demanding schedule” meant that a Toronto team of five to 10 people had to fly to London, Los Angeles, Calif., and New York for design meetings last year, said developer Shane Fenton.

Among Williams’ inspirations in the design process was his 2014 song “Gust of Wind” — in which layers of stringed instruments “sound like wind blowing.”

Using computer software to create a pattern from the melody’s sound waves, architects mapped a “sawtooth and linear” motif onto the balconies, explained Kazerouni, noting the feat marked his first marriage of music and architecture.

It also illustrates the “thoughtfulness” that went into every aspect of the “curated condominiums,” Fenton said.

Music, games and casual get-togethers are among the activities residents can enjoy in the rec room.

Working with the “uniquely gifted” 46-year-old superstar was, said architect Mansoor Kazerouni, “a lot of fun, a really unique experience.”

The collaboration with Williams originated with the developers’ desire to “push ourselves and improve the living environment for our residents,” explained Fenton, Reserve Properties’ chief operating officer.

They specifically wanted someone creative who wasn’t involved in real estate, he said.

Williams’ “unique esthetics and flair,” combined with his status as a “cultural icon (who’s) ahead of his time,” made him the “perfect fit” for the 32- and 21-storey towers planned for Broadway Ave., northeast of Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave., said Fenton.

Williams, who has made his mark as an entrepreneur, fashion and footwear designer, and coach on the popular TV show “The Voice,” jumped on the “cool and awesome opportunity” to add residential design to his resume.

The indoor/outdoor pool has a large mirror overhead to reflect the water.

“I was excited because it’s architecture, another opportunity to learn something from people who are really talented, and to express myself in a different discipline.”

The project’s location in the heart of Toronto was “the cherry on top,” he added.

Suites in the 32-floor south tower are expected to go on sale in February or March. Prices start in the low $400,000s for a 330-sq.-ft. studio and run to more than $1 million for a three-bedroom unit with over 1,000 sq. ft. Completion is expected in four to five years, depending on the construction start.

Unveiled in November 2019, the development saw thousands of people register for information and updates. And while they’ll see his influence everywhere, from furniture fabrics to outside glass, the artist himself is “too humble” to take credit for the buzz, according to those who worked with him.

Williams said that everyone “had a collective willingness to be open, to be pushed, to be prodded and poked” during brainstorming and fine-tuning sessions, which included Kelly Cray of award-winning design studio U31.

Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties developed the towers, with IBI Group as the architect and U31 as the interior designer.

Their attitude was that there were “no such things as bad ideas,” Williams added.

Kazerouni, of global architecture firm IBI Group, observes that Williams literally left no stone unturned during the creative process. When designers were choosing landscaping, for example, Williams would say, “let’s find a darker stone,” or “the grooves should be deeper,” Kazerouni recalled.

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“Pharrell was the filter, constantly pushing the design team to focus on the idea down to the small details,” said Kazerouni. “He’s got a very clear thought process and strong sense of design that’s inspired by nature, water and minimalism.”

Approximately 32,000 square feet of amenity space, most of it in a nine-floor podium between the highrises, will include indoor and outdoor areas for exercising, recreation and socializing for both adults and children.

Also planned for the site is a public park and adjacent 413-unit, 36-storey rental building that will include 200 affordable suites of different sizes.

Fenton and his partners are “thrilled” with the outcome of their unprecedented collaboration with Williams, who’s “known for putting his heart and soul” into everything he does. “We’re just in love with what’s been created.”

According to Williams, the door is open for future residents to make their home “whatever they want it to be.” In other words, their own happy place.

Pharrell Williams wanted a skate park at the Williams Farm Recreation Center.

Blending architecture with good works: More than a musical genius with an interest in design and architecture, Pharrell Williams is also known for his philanthropy.

He’s been giving back to his hometown of Virginia Beach, Va. for years, by helping fund programs to benefit underserved youth.

He also founded his own charity for children in 2008, called “From One Hand to Another,” which sends hundreds of kids across the U.S. to summer camp.

In 2012, Williams combined his passion for architecture and doing good when he helped create a $25-million community centre in Virginia Beach. Called the Williams Farm Recreation Center, the 71,000-square-foot, family-oriented facility includes a swimming pool and water play area, gym and fitness activities.

Williams, a skateboarder, contributed the idea of adding a skate park and multimedia area for teens to record and edit music, and learn about photography, graphic design and film. The rec centre was built on farmland previously owned by the Williams family.

Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at cvyhnak@gmail.com
A water feature in the courtyard shows Pharrell Williams' influence through the use of natural materials and stones.

untitled.

Developer: Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties

Location: 110 Broadway Ave.

Architect: IBI Group. Interior designer: U31

Building: 32-storey south tower with 456 suites

Suites: Studios, one-bedroom, one-plus-den, two-bedroom and three-bedroom, from 330 sq. ft. to 1,000+ sq. ft.

Prices: From low $400,000s to over $1 million

Amenities: 32,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space that includes a garden co-working lounge, rec room, rooftop terraces, social lounge, private dining area, fitness centre, basketball court, yoga studio, wellness centre and spa, indoor/outdoor swimming pool and kids’ club.

Status: Pre-construction. Register for more information at untitledtoronto.com http://untitledtoronto.com/





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