Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties unveiled new details on Dec. 4, 2019 that they say show how Pharrell Williams’ music and aesthetic sensibilities have shaped its Toronto condominium project. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties unveiled new details on Dec. 4, 2019 that they say show how Pharrell Williams’ music and aesthetic sensibilities have shaped its Toronto condominium project. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Pharrell Williams on helping design a Toronto condo complex he’d live in

TORONTO — He’s already proven his prowess as a musician, producer and fashion designer, but Pharrell Williams says his first foray in condominium development continues to be a “crash course” in creativity on a high-rise scale.

When he teamed up with property developers about a year ago, Williams said he was unsure how much input he would have in designing the dual-tower project in midtown Toronto.

But the “Happy” hitmaker said his partners encouraged him to take an active role in making the condo complex — dubbed “untitled” — into the kind of place he would want to live.

“That kind of changed things for me, because then we really went under the hood and did a lot of work,” Williams told The Canadian Press by phone. “I’m really proud to say that we arrived at that point.”

Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties unveiled new details Wednesday that they say show how Williams’ music and aesthetic sensibilities have shaped the project.

The development consists of 751 condo units between two joined towers near the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue. Sales are set to begin in early 2020, and prices will start at the low end of the $400,000 range, according to developers.

Williams worked with lead architect Mansoor Kazerouni of IBI Group to model the buildings’ curved balconies after the sound-wave pattern of his song “Gust of Wind.”

“(We were) trying to find a poetic way to communicate this wave formation vertically in the construction,” Williams said. ”It made for something beautiful.”

As an Aries, the 46-year-old Williams said he’s prone to holding onto items for too long, and has eclectic tastes that don’t always jive well together.

To counter this propensity for excess, Williams said his artistic impulse is to strip things down to their bare essentials.

While he’s previously helped design clothing, accessories and furniture, Williams said applying his minimalist style to architecture marked a new creative challenge.

“I would say that this continues to be a crash course … It’s (learning) a complete different language,” he said.

“I just realized it was another way to express myself and to contribute to something that is a completely new and foreign discipline to me.

“I like buildings and I like construction, but never did I ever dream that I’d get the opportunity to weigh in and be a part of it.”

Given his busy schedule, Williams said he couldn’t ballpark how many hours he’s put into the project.

But the chief operating officer of Reserve Properties said the Grammy Award-winning artist has been intimately involved throughout the development process, weighing in on design details as well as the big-picture vision.

“A really key overarching message was you didn’t want to dictate or direct how people should feel,” said Shane Fenton, who was on the conference call with Williams on Tuesday.

“We should create these universal spaces that allowed the users to really embrace their own unique experience within it.”

There’s a luxe menu of amenities for ”users” to choose from, including a “wellness centre” with a spa and indoor-outdoor swimming pool, a co-working garden lounge, a screening room and private dining with a sake tasting area.

Williams is the latest celebrity to lend his name to a Toronto condo development. Late fashion giant Karl Lagerfeld partnered with Freed Developments and Capital Developments to launch Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos in the same midtown neighbourhood. And actor Robert De Niro boosted the two-tower Nobu Residences, a downtown condo development bound for the city’s entertainment district.

These star-powered projects have drawn some criticism from locals who are feeling the pinch of Toronto’s sky-high housing prices.

Fenton said developers assured Williams that the project would provide housing options for an array of income brackets, including the construction of a separate 413-unit rental building adjacent to “untitled.”

A spokesman said work is underway on the rental building, and while Williams is not “actively involved” in the design, ”certain themes will carry over.”

Williams said he was drawn to Toronto because of the “beautiful people” who live there, and he wants the project to cater to a broad swath of the city’s residents.

“I’m interested in the goodwill that we can do,” he said. “I’m looking at the whole spectrum. And I feel like this particular project is my first dance in this space, but I would like to get to all of it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2019.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read