Wandered into the courtyard when I walked by this morning. The metal siding works better in the courtyard as there are murals and planters to break up the sheer volume of it. Plus you are not looking at 5 stories of the stuff at once. With the retail they have in those spaces (eco spa, personal trainer) the courtyard won't be lively, but it's something different for sure.
Overall I just feel like this could have been an outstanding project that comes up short.
I think most of the monolithic feelings are mostly due to the super low density around in all directions for a few lots or blocks. Surround this one with a bunch of other 4 - 6 walkups and you lose that feeling.
Once the retail opens, those front overhangs will be an interesting opportunity for outdoor semi-sheltered patio space. It won't stop all rain and traffic noise but would certainly cut down from just being the loose chairs with no structural overhang approach most places have in this city that are largely unattractive and unwelcoming. Will be curious to see how/if tenants are able to take advantage of it.
Finally, street parking would do wonders to create more of a barrier between the loud traffic and the development. Creates a fringe to help insolate residents, visitors and pedestrians from the awkwardly high traffic volumes and noise as a result of the highway off-ramp transition zone combined with car centric uses on the other two corners.
The courtyard idea is really cool - I have no clue if it'll pan out or not. Makes me wonder what would have been if a similar approach was used on a full block development to make the courtyard more grand. That block CY33 is on is the size of many stellar blocks in Berlin and other German cities that feature substantial courtyards, high density (but confined to 6 floors so not disimilar to this) and huge vibrancy opportunities - on account to their off-street nooks and pathways in the courtyards for any manner of business and aesthetic you want and the overall density to provide patrons to fuel them.
My opinion hasn't changed on this one as it nears completion. Cosmetic tweaks aside (i.e. less metal in place glass balconies etc.) the fundamentals are solid. This is great infill at a reasonable scale to make a difference to area vibrancy.
I have to respect what RNDSQR did with this project, they definitely took a lot of risks design wise and tried there best to make a statement piece, sure it might not look exactly like the renders but they definitely make a standout piece of architecture in the city, its arguably one of the most unique buildings we have in the city in both good and some bad ways. Im excited to see how the execute there next projects.
Theres no doubt in my mind that as 33rd gets more and more developed this building will look more and more at home.