Grab your pencil crayons and head to Whitehaus, where empty spaces await some colour

Grab your pencil crayons and head to Whitehaus, where empty spaces await some colour

November 18, 2015

Six months ago, Brian Brown was at an Indigo bookstore when he witnessed something unusual: adults colouring in books.

Seated around a table, they happily shaded in the outlines of elephants and mandalas and Monarch butterflies. So it was that in a very 1982 moment that afternoon, paper prevailed over technology.

“I picked up one with tattoos in it and started colouring, too,” says Brown, the vice-president of Lifetime Developments, referring to the 20 or so colouring books on display. “It was really cool — something I could do myself or share with my kids.”

Brown believes adult colouring, praised as a stress reliever and a refreshing distraction from digital devices, “is the next Sudoku.” (Here’s hoping the crafty trend lasts because who doesn’t love a grown man holding a Crayola?)

Sales of such books certainly suggest they aren’t going any place soon: Johanna Basford’s gorgeously illustrated Secret Garden has sold 6.8 million copies worldwide, and the books are officially cool since George R.R. Martin released a colouring version of Game of Thrones.

Rachel Ann Lindsay

Now you can add a condominium-marketing campaign to the list of adopters. The connection between stories you colour and storeys you live in may seem tenuous, but Brown feels otherwise. “When Andy (DeSantis, the creative director) of Montana Steele pitched a colouring-book theme, we thought, yes, the concept is great. It reflects the tenants we want for this space.”

He’s referring to the 29-storey Whitehaus Condos, a building being brought to life on Yonge Street, a block and a half north of Eglinton Avenue, by Lifetime Developments and Knightstone Capital Management.

The design is by Diamond Schmitt Architects with interiors by Cecconi Simone. Occupancy is set for 2019 (

“The tagline ‘Colourful living at Yonge and Eglinton’ or ‘Living life between the lines at Yonge and Eglinton,’ has double meaning,” Brown says, “because it allows people to add their flavour and impression to the building, and it refers to the bisecting lines of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT transit system.”

The LRT in question is part of an $8.4-billion investment by the province — the largest transit expansion in the history of Toronto — that will make the intersection a major transit hub. To cap it off, RioCan just revitalized the once-shabby Yonge Eglinton Centre on the northwest corner with a $100-million upgrade to service both locals and newcomers moving into all those new condos, so if it’s liveliness you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.

Designer Anna Simone says the units at Whitehaus will also touch on the colouring-book theme by featuring kitchen backsplashes you can write on. “The creative process is about engaging. When you have a creative thought, you want to put it on paper,” she says, noting “there will also be vertical space (such as a pantry) conductive to writing.”

As for the palettes, these are all about classic contrast. “One is about reflection and one about absorption,” Simone says obliquely. “So kitchens are either black or white and then you can select from a hint of colour in the island.”

But given the exciting amenity spaces, it doesn’t sound like residents will be holed up in their condos. “We wanted a white canvas, hence the name Whitehaus, for the residents to express themselves and to be creative in how they used the spaces,” Brown says.

He hopes, for instance, that when people congregate to common areas — which are getting special focus here — they’ll explore their own creativity. They can discover their inner Picasso on easels set up in the third-floor studio, which is also outfitted with large tables that can be used for dining or just hanging out.

“We wanted a white canvas, hence the name Whitehaus, for the residents to express themselves and to be creative in how they used the spaces”

The same level also has a park for Fido, as well as a restaurant with its own entry, separate lobby, elevators and a large outdoor terrace affording a prime, people-watching view of Yonge Street. Then there’s the ping-pong room with three tables and flat-screens TVs. Those who never quite excelled in the jock department can finally participate in a sport.

“New condominiums are supporting such social activities and socializing in general like never before,” Brown says.

The statement has never been truer: Now that condo units across the board have gotten noticeably smaller, developers have been creating better common zones as an extension of a buyer’s home.

Even the lobby at Whitehaus is not just for grabbing mail before zipping upstairs but as a social scene as welcoming as the local coffee shop, complete with café-like communal tables. “It’s much longer and larger than most of the lobbies in our buildings,” Browns says of the lobby, which is wrapped in double-height glass to create a strong link to the street.

Says architect Donald Schmitt: “The whole frontage is a half a block long on Yonge Street turning onto Helendale Avenue with a (considerable) retail configuration, both on the grade and upper levels. So it’s got a major retail presence, much more than a conventional condo might have.”


Whitehaus will also captivate above. “It’s literally white with different transparencies of glass and facade panelling. It evokes a sort of white modernism of the Bauhaus,” he says. “It’s a fresh, bright counterpoint to the other towers, which are grey concrete precast, more muted and a bit dated.”

The building is also lucky enough to back onto the busy Northern District branch of the Toronto Public Library. “We’ve partnered with (them) to develop a mid-block pedestrian connection that is a pretty interesting shortcut,” Schmitt says, of the passage that will run between the buildings, from Helendale Avenue on the north through the edge of the lobby space and “will link in with new landscaping and public spaces being developed at the entry to the library, which fronts on Orchard View Boulevard to the south.”

The hope is that Helendale Avenue will be so engaging and pedestrian-friendly it will temporarily be closed to traffic so farmers’ markets and fall and Christmas festivals can be held on it, Schmitt says.

Such holistic thinking about condominium buildings is always exciting. It translates to a life beyond the confines of the individual unit. But as Simone suggests, the ultimate onus for a successful condo community is with the buyer.

“The colouring book is really an analogy. There are a series of lines and when you start to colour them in, life starts to come into the picture. Whitehaus is not dissimilar. Whitehaus is nothing without the people inhabiting it.”



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