Located to the west of the Bramalea City Centre is a cluster of high-rise towers mirroring the cluster in the K-Section on the east side. This particular area has some of the tallest buildings in Bramalea, but in general many of the towers are not as tall as those in the K-Section. Also, many of the towers in this area are rentals.
This section has more of a suburban atmosphere compared to the K-Section with four of the towers located on a cul-de-sac. The image below (from Bing Maps) shows how the land surrounding many of the buildings has been utilized as outdoor recreation space for the residents of the towers. Fences and gate-houses surround some of the towers with camera monitoring systems for more security.
Many of the units on the west side have spectacular views of Chassels Lake. On the other side of the lake is the 25-storey Norton Lake Residence a recent tall addition to the Bramalea skyline. Behind 190 Clark Boulevard it appears that a new 22-storey condo tower is in the works, called Indigo Bay, but I cannot find much information on the building.
The area has a mixture of older style buildings with a strong brick facade and newer buildings with more glass. Image below courtesy of Google Street View.
Early plans for Bramalea did suggest tall buildings near the City Centre, as seen in this image below from the 1958 Master Plan and below it an advertisement from a decade later.
Portion of an advertisement from the Toronto Star, March 9, 1968. Tall towers are highlighted in the yellow boxes.
The 1969 Master Plan does specify high-density housing (shown as the darkest shading) within and around the City Centre area, as shown below:
Portion of the 1969 Master Plan
The tallest building in Bramalea is the Ritz Tower condominium. According to an early newspaper article, both of the towers in the complex were built as rentals, but the taller tower was converted to condominiums not long after it was erected. It appears that they both have the same plans. I do not have the plans for the condominium units other than the ones shown in some of the advertisements. Below are some advertisements and articles about the condominium building:
Toronto Star, May 10, 1986
Toronto Star, October 18, 1986
The buildings of the Lisa Street Neighbourhood:
Some of the information below has been gathered from the Emporis website on tall buildings.
– 8 Lisa Street: Ritz Towers, 28 floors
– 10 Lisa Street, Ritz Towers (Lakewood), 25 floors, built 1982
– 8 Silver Maple Court, 25 floors, built 1982
– 6 Silver Maple Court, 23 floors, built 1982
– 2 Silver Maple Court, 20 floors
– 9 Lisa Street, 16 floors
– 11 Lisa Street, 16 floors
– 5 Lisa Street: The Regency, 15 floors
– 4 Silver Maple Court, 15 floors
– 3 Lisa Street: The Oakland, 15 floors, built 1979
– 190 Clark Boulevard, 14 floors
– 4 Lisa Street,14 floors, built 1978
Courtesy of Google Maps
Courtesy of Bing Maps
I have often thought about how unique Bramalea is as a suburb, especially in the visual sense. One thing that stands out at the most striking aspect of how different Bramalea is are the number of tall buildings – or skyscrapers – in the centre of the area. This is something that most suburban communities do not have. Mississauga’s downtown area has recently been undergoing a skyscraper boom, but Bramalea had one that started back in the 1970s.
This is the first part of an exploration of Bramalea as a “Skyscraper Suburb”. The first instalment is about the area east of the Bramalea City Centre: the K-Section. There 12 tall buildings that tower over the area. Interestingly, there are also 12 towers in the Lisa Street area to the west of the City Centre, which also forms another dense cluster. These book-ends to “downtown” Bramalea will be explored separately.
Although the density of the tall towers is more akin to an urban setting, the large swaths of land surrounding the buildings sets them apart from the landscape of larger downtown cores. This concept has roots dating back to the 1920s and the famous architect Le Corbusier’s designs for “towers in a park”. Countless suburban towers have been built this way in many countries. In some areas the land around these tall towers is now being filled in with housing, stores, or more appealing outdoor spaces that can be used for festivals and gatherings. Maybe similar re-developments are in store for Bramalea?
There is an interesting juxtaposition between the visual horizontality of the single-family homes (especially the bungalows in the older sections of Bramalea) and the verticality of the towers reaching up to the sky.
The Bramalea Skyline from HWY 410. Courtesy of Google Maps.
Many of the buildings look quite similar and are plain on the exterior, but these 1970s-era buildings often have very large units – especially compared to condos built today. Unfortunately I do not have any floor plans for the buildings in the K-Section (except for a couple as shown in the advertisements). I do however have an interest in condominiums built in the 1970s and have a collection of floor plans for buildings in Ottawa from that time period posted on my Ottawa blog: Mid Century Modern Condos and Experiential Design.
Some of the buildings in Bramalea were rentals first and then sold as lower-priced condominium units later.
Many of the buildings have different names from when they were first marketed, so I am unsure of which buildings in the ads below correspond with the current names. At the end of the post is a list of the buildings and their current names.
Below are a series of advertisements and articles on the various condominium towers built in the K-Section:
Toronto Star, February 15, 1975
Toronto Star, December 6, 1975
The building below is a rental building, which presumably was one of the buildings to be converted in to condominiums in the 1980s.
Toronto Star, December 27, 1975
Toronto Star, October 3, 1981
Toronto Star, July 10, 1982
Toronto Star, November 20, 1982
Toronto Star, August 27, 1983
As mentioned earlier, many of the buildings have names that are different from when they were marketed in the 1970s and 1980s. Here is a list of the current building names. If you know which buildings were marketed as which, please let me know!
Some of the information has been gathered from the Emporis website on tall buildings.
Also as a tidbit, I never understood why in the 1960s-1980s often single buildings were called “towers” as if there were more than one…
The buildings of the K-Section:
– 25 Kensington Road: Stuart Towers, 18 floors
– 15 Kensington Road: MacDonald Towers, 18 floors, built 1974
– 18 Knightsbridge Road: Bruce Towers, 25 floors, built 1976
– 10 Kensington Road: McKenzie Towers, 14 floors
– 10 Knightsbridge Road: Chelsea Gardens Tower 1, 13 floors
– 4 Knightsbridge Road: Chelsea Gardens Tower 2, 13 floors
– 4 Kings Cross: Ross Tower, 20 floors
– 17 Knightsbridge: Shaw Towers, 18 floors, built 1977
– 21 Knightsbridge: Fraser Towers, 18 floors, built 1978
Knightsbridge-Kings Cross Towers:
– 3 Knightsbridge Road: Cameron Towers, 26 floors
– 11 Knightsbridge Road: Munro Towers, 18 floors
– 5 Kings Cross Road: Buchanan Towers, 18 floors
When: Built circa 1989-1991
Where: Lancewood Crescent
Who: Bramalea Limited
What I Know: Some of the plans are very similar to the designs at Carriage Walk built around the same time – although this enclave does not have as many amenities.
The complex of has 54 houses.All of the designs have a two bedroom option, indicating that the target market was either empty-nesters or professionals without children. Also notice how every master bedroom has a walk-in-closet. The two larger plans have a family room over the garage. The majority of the houses in the complex are the these larger plans.
In 1990 the prices were drastically reduced for the houses (see the November 3, 1990 advertisement).
Toronto Star, May 12, 1990
Toronto Star, October 20, 1990
Toronto Star, March 30, 1991
Community Spotlight: the F-Section
The F-Section is bounded by Bramalea Road, Queen Street East, Torbram Road and Clark Boulevard. Earnscliffe Park cuts through the section and visually separates the condominium townhouse complexes in the western part from the rest of the area as only Clark Boulevard and Queen Street link the two sections together. The Northwestern part of the area has a commercial strip and a medical centre along Queen Street.
Although the section is small compared to others, it does have 3 schools and 2 churches.
Many of the houses in the area were built under the Ontario government’s Home Ownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) Plan, along with the D and E sections. The Concept 3 stacked townhouse complex with “streets in the sky” was the first time deck housing was built in Canada.
Neighbourhoods in the F-Section
Portion of the 1969 Master Plan for Bramalea
According to the 1969 Master Plan, the townhouses along Bramalea Road were planned to be low-rise apartments. Also on this plan, there were provisions for further apartments and commercial uses to the west of Concept 3/Folkstone Terrace, which was eventually built as Finchgate Estates.
The following are links to blog postings on some of the neighbourhoods in the F-Section:
I am missing the plans for The Gates of Bramalea and the houses built under the H.O.M.E. Plan. If you have them, please help make this blog better by letting me know so I can share them!
Please feel free to comment below and share stories or tidbits about the F-Section.
When: Built circa 1988-1992
Where: 10 and 12 Laurelcrest Street
Who: Bramalea Limited
What I Know: These two “towers in a park” have a gatehouse restricting access to the complex. This layout with a gate and landscaped grounds was common with the condos that Bramalea Limited built in Bramalea and elsewhere (aside from downtown locations where land is at a premium).
The two 12-storey towers are not as tall as the others Bramalea Limited built in Bramalea at the time. The location further away from the Bramalea City Centre may have dictated the shorter height of the buildings.
The two towers are mirror images of each other with the same design, centred on an outdoor pool. Tennis courts are located at the far end of the site.
In comparison to the brick facades of Bramalea buildings from the 1970s, this later generation of buildings have full walls of glass, filling the interiors with light.
Inside, many of the units are quite large for condominiums, but not as luxuriously appointed as Bellair on the Park. In that building all of the two and three-bedroom units have ensuite bathrooms, whereas at Laurelcrest none of the plans have an exclusive ensuite bathroom – but some have a cheater door – plus a powder room.
It is apparent from the advertising that Bramalea Limited was successful at first in sales of the units, but later had some difficulty. By the 1990s prices were slashed for the units, making some less expensive compared to when they were first sold. This can be linked to a variety of economic and real-estate market difficulties at the time.
Toronto Star, October 29, 1988
Toronto Star, February 25, 1989
Toronto Star, July 13, 1991
When: Built circa 1988-1990
Where: Pleasant Valley Place, Pineway Place, Pennington Place
Who: Bramalea Limited
What I Know: These were the last detached houses built directly backing on to Professor’s Lake.
The houses have features that epitomized luxury at the time, including large ensuite bathrooms, all with a large soaking tub and many with two sinks – plus every master bedroom has a walk-in-closet. Every house has a main floor laundry room and most have a grand staircase in a larger foyer. Two-storey rooms are interesting aspects of some of the plans.
It is interesting to track the price increases of the houses in a short time. For instance, the Bridgeport plan was $293,900 in April 1988 and by January 1990 it was $376,900!
The first house on Pennington Place is completely different from all of the plans. I suspect it may have been the original sales centre…but I am unsure.
Toronto Star, April 1, 1989
Toronto Star, March 3, 1990
During the 1980s Bramalea Limited used one particular design more than any other in its advertising for Bramalea (and all of their developments). The design was the built as the Windsor in the Master’s Series in Deerchase in the N-Section. The house is distinctively characterized by an L-shaped facade with the door on an angle between the two arms of the L. Inside, the living and dining rooms are on each side of the entry, with a curved staircase punctuating the foyer.
Homes Magazine, June/July 1987
Toronto Star, August 25, 1984
One of the earliest versions of an L-shape plan in Bramalea was in the late 1970s as one of the Limited Edition Homes built in Kimber Park in the J-Section and King’s Row in the L-Section. The Carlton and Edward II plans are essentially the same, and it was the largest and priciest design in Kimber Park when first built. Since the house is wider compared to the Windsor, the kitchen and dining room were tucked in behind the garage, with the living room facing the street and back yard. In later (and narrower) versions the dining room and living room locations swap places.
Much like the Windsor, this design was also used extensively in advertising by Bramalea Limited at the time.
Toronto Star, October 8, 1977
Toronto Star, January 14, 1978
Toronto Star, January 27, 1979
In Montara in the N-Section, c. 1987-1988, Bramalea Limited came up with a narrower version of the L-shape plan. The angled front door and the living and dining rooms on each side of the entry remain the same, but the narrowness of the house squeezed out the grand foyer with curved staircase. As is common with all of these L-shaped plans, the family room is across the back of the house.
The wider versions of this house type have the luxury of space surrounding the house to make the street view quite grand. The narrower the house, there is less front yard space is to make a grand statement. Few versions of the Cottonwood were actually built, yet it presents the best facade to the street when sited on a corner lot – as was done in a few cases. The Windsor plan, first introduced at the beginning of this post, is the most popular plan built on corner lots in The Master’s Series in Deerchase for the same reason.
At the end of the 1980s, Bramalea Limited offered the Saratoga plan at Emerald Cove on Professor’s Lake. While the door is not on an angle, the L-shape facade with the living and dining room on each side and grand foyer remains. For some reason this design was not very popular and it appears that only one was ever built in the area.
As a different take on the L-shaped design, around 1986 Bramalea Limited created this plan for their Fairfields community in Unionville. It has the same layout of living and dining room on each side of the foyer with curved staircase, yet has the unusual feature of a conversation pit at the back of the house – a throwback to the 1970s. Why did conversation pits go out of style? I think they are fantastic and a great spot to gather by the fireplace.
When: Built circa 1985-1986
Where: Newgate Place, Norwood Place, Newell Place
Who: Bramalea Limited
What I Know: The Mulberry split-level design is ideally suited to the terrain at the entry to Newgate Place where the land rises at the back – at this design was only built in that location within the community. Other designs were built on that section of the street, but with lower garages. The Mulberry is unusual as in that it is the second largest plan in the area, yet the layout does not have an ensuite in the master bedroom.
The kitchens in this area are not large in comparison to the sizes of the houses. Only one of the designs has a separate breakfast room, whereas the other designs have eat-in-kitchens with room for a table in the main area.
The two smallest designs have single-car garages, yet few of these designs were actually built. As such, the area is characterized by streets with large protruding garages.
There are three pie-shaped lots which have much wider house designs. Bramalea Limited did this in a few of their neighbourhoods at the time. The houses are usually an adaptation of their corner house designs.
Curiously, the area is called North Park, yet the area is not located off of North Park Drive, and is instead accessed by Nuffield Street.
When: Built circa 1985-1987
Where: Nobel Place, Napanee Place, Newgreen Crescent, Nuffield Street (parts)
Who: Bramalea Limited
What I Know: This area is a mixture of some plans from earlier communities and many new designs – particularly for the 42-foot wide lots.
Some of the 38-foot lot plans were built on Nickel Crescent and Nuttall Street in the Sunset neighbourhood.
The advertising promotes the area as having big 42-foot wide lots, but this statement has to be contextualized. In the 1960s, many detached houses in Bramalea were built on 50 and 60-foot wide lots, so 42-feet would be narrow in comparison. Yet in the context of the northwest portion of the N-Section, where most lots are 30 and 36-feet wide, these are some of the widest lots in the area. The areas along Nuffield Street are almost twice as dense as the streets in the early parts of Bramalea – where two 30-foot lot houses take up the same space as one house on a 60-foot lot. Aside from the zero lot-line houses in the Villages of Central Park no other large area of Bramalea has the same density of detached houses.
A number of the designs have a separate dining room, as opposed to back-to-back living and dining room combination. There is a certain formality to having two rooms, reminiscent of a traditional centre-hall house. It is interesting how having a formal dining room is a very cultural aspect of housing and reflects local norms and traditions. In Ontario, it is common to have a formal dining room and an informal breakfast room in houses where the space allows for both rooms. When I moved to Quebec, I discovered that having two dining rooms was less common, and my current house only has one.
Ensuite bathrooms are also less common in Quebec, whereas in Ontario, by the 1980s it was seen as a necessity for houses large enough to accommodate the room. All of the plans in Trail Ridge have an ensuite bathroom (with the exception of the Orion raised bungalow design – which may not have actually been built). Most of the ensuites in this area are quite small in comparison to the expansive ensuites in newer houses with sizable bathtubs, large showers and long counters with two sinks. That said, bedrooms are generally larger in these older plans compare to newer houses of a similar size, where the bedroom space is sacrificed to make room for a larger ensuite.
Toronto Star, May 24, 1986
Toronto Star, June 7, 1986