The 2010s can arguably be described as the era of the polymath. We’ve seen athletes become entrepreneurs, visual artists become activists, and musicians become designers. Earlier this year, the public’s eyes grew wide with curiosity surrounding the news that rapper/producer/resident free-thinker Kanye West had secured 300 acres in Calabasas, California, to build a neighborhood of low-cost housing prototypes. The sienna-colored domes were promptly demolished, thanks to the lack of a proper building permit.
More recently, another multitalented musician has made waves by dipping his toe into architecture. Pharrell Williams—in collaboration with Toronto-based companies Reserve Properties and Westdale Properties—is designing a new two-tower, residential development called untitled at Yonge and Eglinton, a neighborhood in the city’s Midtown business district.
Williams is known for his design sensibilities, thanks to his celebrated collaborations with brands like Chanel, which spurred a capsule collection, and Adidas, which manufactured the shoes he created with Japanese fashion label Human Made.
The Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer said on the occasion of the untitled announcement: “The opportunity to apply my ideas and viewpoint to the new medium of physical structures has been amazing. Everyone at the table had a collective willingness to be open, to be pushed, to be prodded and poked, to get to that uncomfortable place of question mark, and to find out what was on the other side. The result is untitled and I’m very grateful and appreciative to have been a part of the process.”
The process of designing this multiresidential development took place over the past year. The development firms, along with Williams and architects from IBI Group and Interior Designers U31, worked to strip the residential design down to absolute essentials—which, arguably, made the design overly simplified: Renderings show that the development will consist of 750 individual units, split between two towers and a joint podium. A sleek facade, accented by irregular patterns on the buildings’ balconies, accent the ultra-simple design. Nothing particularly innovative, but a clean addition to the bustling intersection of similarly tall developments.
“The thinking and philosophy that ended up governing the whole process was less about adding items and instead focusing on reducing and stripping away to get us to the essential core elements of the design,” Shane Fenton, chief operating officer at Reserve Properties, said in a statement. “Pharrell pushed us toward designing spaces that felt universal. Instead of dictating a lifestyle onto our purchasers and residents, we aimed to create harmonious spaces that could serve as the backdrop to their lives. That lens was applied throughout the entire building until we ended up with something that felt both timeless and singular.”
The focus on minimalism also gave the building its nameless name. Says Williams: “To live your life untitled means not having to live up to something or perform beyond a standard. For the standard to literally just be this beautiful matrix that allows people to create their own world.”