Condo Design Jumps the Shark

56 leonard closeup image

Back in the days when I was an architect/developer, I put together a little condo project in Toronto. It had some funny overhangs and terraces and cleaning windows was a challenge. Once just after occupancy a window washer dropped a line over a handrail. When he put load on it, it bent the handrail in a bit, which punctured the roof membrane. The next time it rained, the unit below was flooded, costing me sixteen thousand dollars in repairs. It seems like a dumb little thing, but designing for the window washers is really important in a condo.

So where are Herzog and de Meuron going to be when it is time to wash the windows in this thing? 56 stories of overhangs and staggered floors, I can't tell if there is a single continuous surface. It is a beautiful looking building, but it is going to be awfully dirty.

herzog de meuron building image

"Inspired by the permeability and spatial qualities of Modernist houses and the great American dream of a customized home, Herzog & de Meuron has replaced the usual extrusion of standardized skyscraper floor plates with a staggered progression of structural slabs turning slightly off axis by degrees as they ascend, creating constant variety among the apartment floor plans.

This structural arrangement of floor plates at 56 Leonard Street will create an irregular flurry of cantilevered terraces up and down the building, making plays of light and shadow that give the tower a shimmering, animated appearance on the skyline and widely varying interiors. 56 Leonard Street contains five key zones ascending from street to sky: lobby, "townhouse" residences, amenities, tower residences, and penthouses."


It really is an interesting design, and I love the way it sits on an Anish Kapoor sculpture. But the monthly fees are going to be extraordinary- all that extra surface to maintain (and radiate heat), acres of terrace on top of habitable space, everything you are taught in architecture school and in the harder school of actually building things that you shouldn't do. Not to mention the fact that every unit has a different solar exposure and shading, are they calculating the heat losses and gains separately for every single unit?

Scary. ::Dezeen

Related Content on