At the base of Casa — a slender, 47-storey building with a wide-brimmed concrete hat perched on top — is a most remarkable entrance that projects forward from the mass of the tower above. As a space it’s monumental in height, peculiarly shallow (little more than six paces from the doorway and you’re clear across) and long like a pool cue. This entrance — characterizing it as a “lobby” won’t do, with its connotation of something far less heroic — had humble beginnings. A tight urban site and the exorbitant cost of underground parking forced the developer to split an eight-storey parking garage four stories below grade and four above. Making the most of unfortunate circumstances, architectsAlliance, the building’s designer, covered up the four-storey rump of the garage that projects into the lobby with a collage of 6-by-13-foot oak veneer panels. A five-storey wall of glass hangs down in front of the entry space like a curtain, supported on a custom-built steel frame.
A short staircase and reception desk are the entry’s only permanent inhabitants. They make an elegant couple, both covered in similar back-painted tapioca-coloured glass and trimmed with brushed stainless steel. The stair takes you up one flight to a lounge, recessed 10 feet from the oak-panelled wall. An expanse of deep blue rises up four stories behind the lounge’s modern furniture. It seems that a view to the leafy street outside or over the entrance space below is the lounge’s sole purpose, since, with a touch of irony, the lounge leads nowhere.
For an entrance to a mid-priced condo in Toronto, quality materials abound: Peribonka granite floor tiles, culled from Quebec, lay on the floor; an entry portal, piercing through the glass wall, is clad both indoors and out in bronze plated panels with an oxidized lacquer finish; vinyl wall coverings, with the appearance of linen, line the corridors beyond the reception desk. Stacked at both ends of the space are the same exquisite, purplish-black brick that covers the exterior. Originating in Nebraska, the bricks are flecked with manganese iron spots, giving them a subtle iridescence. At night, theatre lights illuminate the oak-panelled wall, turning the entire volume into a giant lantern. CI