Architects and building designers beware, renowned architecture critic and veteran journalist Christopher Hume is reviving his condo critiques, exclusively for

The BerwickDeveloper: The Brown Group and Andrin HomesArchitect: Page + Steele IBI GroupCompletion: 2015Address: 60 Berwick Ave.

Grade: C+

The Berwick

Let’s be honest; North Toronto is an architectural black hole. Nothing about it stands out except as an example of how not to plan and build a city. The area is all over the place. High-rise here, low-rise there, one often right beside the other. The post-war housing stock is generally banal. One of the few buildings worth a second look, Davisville Public School, was recently torn down by the philistines at the Toronto District School Board.

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Little wonder the arrival of a new condo complex hardly raises an eyebrow. In a place where expectations are so low, few are going to be disappointed regardless of how dull its architecture may be. No surprise the appearance of The Berwick came without fanfare. Already it has acquired that invisibility we associate with countless buildings that line our streets, each more unremarkable, bland and boring than the next.

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Occupying a nondescript corner of Duplex and Berwick avenues, this condo/townhouse complex at least takes advantage of the site to add maximum density to this booming neighbourhood. It’s interesting to see how the medium-rise tower steps up to the east to avoid looming over the tiny bungalows on Duplex. This smacks of the planning department’s love of gestures that mean next to nothing outside the cubicles in which Toronto’s hard-working planners store their clipboards when they’re finished ticking off the boxes.

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The building has few memorable features, redeeming or otherwise. The upper storeys sit on a three-storey precast concrete yellow-brick base that helps bring down its scale to something appropriate for the surroundings. Too bad, the two halves – upper and lower – seem to come from different projects. The complex’s finest moment is on Duplex where a curved row of townhouses brings a measure of coherence to this unhappy artery.

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