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U of T picks architects for new Civilizations and Cultures building

The University of Toronto’s new Centre for Civilizations and Cultures, proposed for 90 Queen’s Park Crescent, has the daunting task of not only providing a home for a number of academic departments that may not otherwise find themselves rubbing shoulders, but also living up to the standards of the heavy-hitting museums and cultural institutions that will be its neighbours.

“We have a president [Meric Gertler] that’s made an engagement with cities and taking advantage of our physical location a significant priority, so we’ve also been thinking of the outward connections of this building to the campus and to the greater city of Toronto,” says Scott Mabury, vice-president of university operations.

Last week the university announced that Toronto’s Architects Alliance, partnered with New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro, have been chosen to design the high-profile new building, to be built on the site once occupied by the Royal Ontario Museum’s McLaughlin Planetarium.

The budget and what the building will look like are still undermined, though a consultation process with tenants, the community and other stakeholders over the next few months should contribute to a preliminary schematic plan by the summer. The two architecture firms were chosen not for a particular design proposal, but after an extensive interview process that evaluated the success of other projects the firms had worked on.

The centre will provide a home for the department of history, the department of Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, the Institute of Islamic Studies and the research arm of the Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies. It will also feature a 250-seat performance hall for the Faculty of Music.

“Our Faculty of Music sits behind this location, so the recital hall will help give the faculty a presence on Queen’s Park,” says Mabury. “It will give them a gateway onto Queen’s Park, as well as a compelling entrance, taking advantage of the plaza possibilities and doing that in a way that connect the activities in the building with the greater public and the city.”

The architects are also tasked with improving access to Philosopher’s Walk, one of the city’s best-loved hidden secret, which passes by Trinity College, the Royal Conservatory of Music and the ROM.

“We won’t be tinkering with the walk itself but we do think that gem deserves to be accessible. One could imagine folks exiting the ROM or the Gardiner Museum across the street or coming to an event in the Civilizations and Culture building, who might want to finish off their experience with a stroll through Philosopher’s Walk,” Mabury says.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Scott Mabury

BILD talks state of GTA housing market at Green Homes Summit

GTA home buyers are still very reluctant to pay more for an environmentally friendly place to live, but rapid changes in technology and construction methods are bringing the prices of greener homes down, says the president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

Bryan Tuckey is speaking this week about the state of home building in the GTA at the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council’s Green Homes Summit. The gathering of industry folk will explore new developments in greening for residential construction ranging from “ground-related” homes—that is single-family, semi-detached and townhomes—up to 12-storey midrise buildings.

“Embedded in BILD’s strategic plan is sustainability and green buildings. Our members are leaders in building greener homes,” says Tuckey. “Consumers are still price sensitive and tend to look in the shorter term than the longer term, so you really have to educate the buyer about energy efficiency and that’s still one of the challenges in front of the industry.” Faced with a choice between floor-to-ceiling windows or a lower energy bill, many buyers will still pick the former.

Amidst all the speculation about whether the GTA housing market is a bubble that will some day burst, Tuckey says the numbers suggest otherwise. Household formation in the region—which has held steady at about 36,000 annually since the early 2000s—is still proportional to the number of homes built here each year, about 35,000 in 2015.

“There’s not really a bubble. You’re just building to family formation,” says Tuckey.

But the market has essentially split in two, the low-rise and the high-rise market. The demand for ground-related homes far outpaces supply, fuelling double-digit price increases, up 17 per cent from 2014 to 2015. Condo prices, by contrast, have flat-lined, as supply has managed to keep up with demand.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Bryan Tuckey

Developers open conversation for Galleria Shopping Centre redevelopment

At the open house about the future of the Galleria Shopping Centre at the corner of Dufferin and Dupont streets last weekend, there weren’t any architectural renderings but there were a lot of ideas on sticky notes.

Developers Elad Canada Inc. and Freed Developments hosted the well-attended public meeting at the mall itself, which is often maligned for its dated 1970s vibe, slim offerings and oversized parking lot. The 12-acre site, which sold for an estimated $80 million, has had a long redevelopment history of false starts. A 2004 application went the furthest, proposing 1,600 residential condominium units in six buildings ranging between six and 19 storeys, as well as a block of 20 stacked townhouses, four new public streets and 1.35 acres of parkland added to adjacent Wallace-Emerson Park. The current developers have said the 2004 proposal does match what they see for the site—they want the property to be mixed use with commercial—and seem to be in listening mode. So were community members, some of who fear massive towers, while others see any proposal as an improvement.

“My takeway is that the developers recognize that it’s a site with enormous potential just because of the size,” says Evan Castel, an attendee and co-chair of the Davenport Neighbourhood Association. “They’re also aware of the diverse interests and diverse needs of the neighbourhood and so they seem to want to move forward in a collaborative way.”

Residents were concerned about density and the ability of the neighbourhood to absorb large numbers of new residents; the Dufferin bus can be pretty packed. Green space was also up for discussion, says Castel.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Evan Castel

Harbord Village Green Plan paves way for un-paving

A new plan to green up Harbord Village could become a template for other Toronto neighbourhoods to replace asphalt and concrete with trees, plants and grass.

“It’s a real breakthrough for us because this will be the first time the city will have rules of engagement over all the paved spaces that have been identified as possible green spaces,” says Sue Dexter, a member of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association and co-author of 2015 Harbord Village Green Plan. “It’s the beginning of a roll-out of a change in the landscape in a significant part of town, which could be replicated wherever there are lanes or flanking spaces.”

Though the area, bounded by Bloor, College and Bathurst streets and Spadina Avenue, has a lot of greenery, it has very little designated park land. The area’s 16 “pinchpoint planters”—concrete structures which narrow streets, signal one-ways and calm traffic—require regular care by residents and are frequently the target of graffiti artists.

The study proposes using “flanking spaces”—the often unoccupied city-owned paved spaces separating commercial and residential zones—for tree plantings, bike parking and seating. “Such spaces are contingent on sight-line priorities for safe routing of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians,” states the report. “In many places however, especially on corners along Harbord and flanking businesses on Bloor, there are lost opportunities to establish in-ground planting or raised container beds.” The plan also proposes greening some of the neighbourhood’s 25 laneways, starting with Croft Laneway and Sussex Mews.

“I think there will be an increased sense of stewardship and pride in our back spaces,” says Dexter. “People see the front of their house as the public space, so they put in gardens, doll it up. I think that if people realize they’ve also got a rear address to the world, then they’ll see they don’t need to give their rear address over to their automobiles.”

Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina) Councillor Joe Cressy has championed the plan. Dexter says the association is working with him to bring a motion to council that would better coordinate the street paving cycle and ad hoc utility digging to create opportunities to increase green space. Though the initiative may first apply only to Harbord Village, Dexter expects other Toronto residents would want to have access to the same process.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sue Dexter

Environmental assessment clears way for phase two of West Toronto Railpath

When the West Toronto Railpath was first talked about back in 2002, it was possible to imagine a multi-use trail system running from the Junction right downtown right along the railway tracks to Union Station.

Though Metrolinx’s transit ambitions and condo development have over time limited the scope of where such a path can go, a long-awaited environmental assessment (EA) now points the way forward on how the path can be extended further toward the city centre. Phase one, which opened in 2009, provided a path from Cariboo Avenue to Dundas Street West. Phase two could extend the path to Abell and Sudbury streets relatively quickly.

“It is very exciting to have the EA closed so that Railpath 2 can finally move into the design stage,” says Scott Dobson, a member of Friends of West Toronto Railpath. “The great thing about the EA process is that frankly everybody loves Railpath. Everybody [who has seen it] gets it and wants to see it expand.”

For all extension possibilities beyond Abell, the EA calls for further study, leaving out Liberty Village. But Dobson says he’s pleased the EA cleared the way to get the path south of Queen, though between Dufferin and Abell the path will have to run adjacent to, not in, the rail corridor.

“There was no point in doing something that made nobody happy and strayed from the spirit of Railpath, but at the same time nobody wanted to stall the rest of the route up to Dundas where Railpath currently ends. So all stakeholders felt that getting it built to Abell, while continuing to explore southerly options, was the best option,” says Dobson. “A few years ago, nobody wanted land near or in the rail corridor but now that land is scarce and valuable. At the end of the day, it is because of increased density and new transit projects, which is a good thing. But figuring out the exact route has been time consuming.”

The next step is for an RFP to be tendered for detailed design of the extention. Beyond expansion south, Dobson says advocates are also in the early stages of looking north to go from the north tip of Railpath at Cariboo up to St. Clair Avenue.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Scott Dobson

29-storey tower initial move to redevelop entire Queen East block

The city block bounded by Mutual, Queen East, Shuter and Dalhousie streets will be completely re-imagined over the next few years, starting with a 29-storey mixed-use building called 88 North, with the project slated to launch this spring.

The development application filed last month by St. Thomas Developments, the company behind One St. Thomas Residences and 7 St. Thomas, will offer 421 residential units and approximately 810 square metres of retail at street level fronting on Shuter Street, all on a 0.29-hectare site that’s now the home of a parking lot. But this project, designed by Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects, is just the first phase in a larger plan for the entire block.

There have been development applications for the block dating back to 1979, and during that there have been many changes to the proposals and the zoning by-laws governing the property. In the early 2000s, three 28-storey towers, at the same 30 Mutual/88 Queen East address as 88 North, were proposed, as well as other mid-rise buildings. At that time, city staff recommended permitting that development, though St. Michael’s Cathedral was concerned about the shadow impacts of the development on the cathedral.

According to a description of current proposal by the developer’s lawyers, “the base of the proposed tower is intended to be dominated by food-related retail uses at the street level, with retractable glazed storefront partitions that will oopen up in good weather to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces with patios animating the street and park, creating a vibrant and active urban environment.... The podium is conceived as a series of stacked glass boxes that enclose two-storey loft units. The glass boxes of the podium are composed as a series of interlocking objects that add architectural interest to the podium.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto, Devine Park LLP

Sauna, fur-lined dome among winners in Winter Station competition

When the architects at RAW Design launched Toronto’s Winter Stations competition last year, asking designers to come up with whimsical installations to liven up the waterfront east of Ashbridges Bay during the tough winter months, they were thinking locally: The Beach neighbourhood specifically and the City of Toronto more generally.

But the 380 entries in this year’s competition, themed Freeze/Thaw, came from designers from all over the world, with one of the four winning 2016 submissions hailing from the UK.

“We kind of went viral and once stuff went on the web, we attracted interest from all over the place,” says Aaron Hendershott, an architect at RAW. “There’s an interest in recreating some of these installations and bringing what we do here to other cities. Certainly there’s a lot of interest in design for the wintertime, something that gives people an excuse to go out and enjoy the city in the winter. The beach isn’t just a summertime environment.”

The UK winner, Sauna by Claire Furnley and James Fox at Leeds-based FFLO landscape architects, is an actual sauna, where passersby can see through the transparent exterior to bathers thawing out on tiered seating inside. “I’m interested in stations that are really going to provoke a new type of community space. The Sauna entry is calmer from a design perspective but I’m intrigued how this will work in a public space,” says Hendershott, who worked on the competition with the jury and fellow organizers at Ferris + Associates and Curio.

The station called In the Belly of a Bear, by Caitlind r.c Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee of Calgary, has visitors climb up a wooden ladder into a domed interior lined with fur. Floating Ropes, by MUDO (Elodie Doukhan and Nicolas Mussche) of Montreal, offers a suspended cube of ropes in which visitors take shelter. Flow, by Team Secret (Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh) of Toronto, allows 3D star-shaped modules to be reconfigured into different structures with slot-fitting wooden connections.

The four winners, along with stations designed by students at OCAD, Ryerson and Laurentian universities, will be built from February 10 to 14 along Kew, Scarborough and Balmy beaches south of Queen Street East, between Woodbine and Victoria Park avenues. Installations will debut on February 15, and stay open to the public until March 20. Each station is required to cost less than $10,000 in materials and labour.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Aaron Hendershott

PortsToronto releases first annual sustainability report

Private vehicle dropoffs and pick-ups at Billy Bishop City Airport has dropped by more than 40 per cent since 2012 as the number of people walking, biking and taking transit has grown to 37 per cent, up from 27 per cent just three years ago.

That shift has occurred even the airport’s overall passenger traffic has increased from 2.3 million in 2012 to an estimated 2.5 million last year, according to PortsToronto’s first annual sustainability report. The document looks at how the government authority is doing in environmental protection, community engagement and economic performance at its properties including he Island airport, the Outer Harbour Marina and Terminals 51 and 52 in the portlands.

“The City of Toronto recognizes that rapid residential and business development in the area, with no significant improvement in infrastructure, roads and transit, has led to issues of congestion and poor traffic flow,” states the report, which was published this week. “As such, the City of Toronto began work in 2015 on a Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan to study improvements that can be made to ensure that this mixed-use community continues to thrive. For its part, Billy Bishop Airport continues to encourage its travellers to walk, bike, shuttle or take transit to the airport and has put measures in place to encourage this shift. This includes the addition of a fourth shuttle bus in 2015 to make this option even more convenient.”

Some of the changes in travel patterns might be attributed to the opening of the new pedestrian tunnel to the airport, which replaces the chore of taking the ferry with a six-minute journey beneath Lake Ontario. The $82.5-million tunnel opened in July and as well as improving flow, includes new water and sewer mains to the Toronto Islands, “saving Toronto taxpayers an estimated $10 million in duplicate construction costs,” states the report. “The new city water and sewage mains now provide reliable services to the Toronto Islands and replace existing pipes that date back to the 1950s.”

Other tidbits from the report: PortsToronto dredged 40,000 tonnes of material from the mouth of the Don River last year, up from 33,000 tones last year. The agency generated more than $8 million in revenue for governments last year. An engine maintenance run-up enclosure intended to reduce the noise impact of the airport is expected to be built in 2016.

A less quantitative effort saw the agency work with Evergreen Canada to green playground spaces at six waterfront and downtown primary schools. “Many of the schools selected for the program are located in high-traffic neighbourhoods in the downtown core where there is a limited ability to connect with nature due to a lack of greenspace. The projects supported through PortsToronto‘s contribution to this program range from removing asphalt and planting native plants and vegetable gardens, to creating stone seating and establishing shade trees to enable outdoor classroom experiences, to a water wall that will teach children about the properties of water,” states the report.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: PortsToronto

Council votes for tougher enforcement of tree violations, less notice for tree removal

Earlier this month, City Council backed revisions to Toronto’s tree by-laws to improve enforcement and transparency, and to provide better, faster customer service.

The by-laws that protect trees on city property and privately owned trees of a certain size were last amended in 2011. The revisions would change how fees applied when a possible contravention of the by-laws takes place.

“The collection of fees will serve as a deterrent and make the contravention inspection process more equitable and efficient,” states the staff report. “Since the creation of the tree by-laws, their administration has been primarily based on an educational and compliance model. As a result, thousands of property owners, developers and builders have been educated on the importance of protecting and enhancing the city's urban forest. While most individuals respect and follow the tree by-laws, numerous contraventions are reported and investigated each year. Urban Forestry is aware of increasing community expectation that enhanced enforcement activities should be utilized as a tool to improve tree protection.”

Urban Forestry would have more clout in ordering that contravening activity be stopped or that work be done to correct the contravention. “Urban Forestry can also take legal action and pursue prosecution when warranted by the magnitude of the contravention.”

Urban Forestry issues approximately 5,600 permits annually, generating revenue of about $1.13 million. Although the changes are intended to improve response times and compliance, the staff report says the proposed amendments will not have an impact on total revenue. Organizations like the Swansea Area Ratepayers group have expressed concern about the new rates.

The action item would fine-tune several other regulations and policies regarding trees. For example, it would make by-laws more explicit about the definition of a “boundary tree” whose trunk crosses one or more property line, eliminate the need to post notices of application to injure healthy trees (notice will still be posted for the removal of trees), require that replacement trees be maintained in good condition for two years after planting, require that replacement trees that die or are in poor condition within two years shall be replaced and eliminate the current permit exception for injuring or destroying a tree for the purpose of erecting a fence. “In most cases a fence can be erected while protecting trees. Amendments are proposed that will eliminate this exception and require property owners to submit an application when a fence will be erected and trees may be injured or removed,” states the report.

Some community groups have expressed concern about reduce the notice process in “as of right” applications. “Basically, the recommendation would neuter councillors,” Jim Baker, president of the Avenue Road Eglinton Community Association, wrote to council. “It would make councillors the brunt of the public’s ire when the public becomes aware that a mature tree has been approved to be removed with just one day’s notice to the public advising of the approval.
Presently reducing the notice period from 14 days to 0 days is a substantive shift in the process.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto

A dozen mid-rise wooden buildings on the way after Ontario code changes

Almost a year ago, new rules came into effect allowing Ontario builders to use wooden construction for buildings of up to six storeys.

It’s a policy change aimed at “increase opportunities for designers and builders to create innovative, flexible and affordable new buildings,” and follows building code changes that took place in British Columbia in 2009. Since then, that province has seen more than 200 wooden mid-rise projects and Ontario builders have watched and learned from what’s happened there.

“Builders are really embracing this change and this new building option. There’s definitely a lot of collaboration happening,” says Pauline Lip, senior technical advisor, Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

Wooden buildings are estimated to cost up to 10 per cent less than buildings constructed from non-combustible materials. By permitting them, Ontario is trying to encourage more mid-rise buildings and increased densification since they may be economically feasible on sites where other types of buildings wouldn’t be. “This has really been the next step in unlocking the intensification targets that support the provincial growth plan,” says Lip. “From the home buyer’s standpoint, we have the ability to provide more affordable housing options that have more innovative design.” The new rules come with strict fire and safety regulations that are currently undergoing the process of being implemented.

Since last January, about a dozen mid-rise wooden projects have come out of the gates across the province and are in various stages of planning and approval. While the first to have broken ground was the Sandman Hotel in Hamilton, a $12-million 209-unit development, Quadrangle Architects is aiming to build the first in Toronto. This month the firm, working with Fieldgate Urban and Hullmark Developments, submitted a building permit application for Heartwood the Beach Condos at 1884 Queen Street East. The 40-unit residential project will have street-level retail and target the city’s Tier 2 Green standards.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Pauline Lip

Broadview school expansion plan would integrate modernized facilities into heritage properties

Riverdale’s Montcrest School wants to expand its facility with a modern extension that will provide an interesting contrast with two of the heritage homes the school occupies on Broadview Avenue.

Montcrest’s 300 students—from junior kindergarten to grade eight—get their education in relatively cramped quarters. The 50-year-old independent school moved to Broadview from the Annex in the 1970s, starting in one leased house on Broadview that was eventually given to the school. As it expanded, the school purchased other homes in the neighbourhood and a couple of decades ago built a more traditional three-stsorey school building in the large adjoining lots backing onto the Don Valley. The leadership team had been looking for other neighbourhood properties to purchase but finally realized they might have to come up with a more creative solution on their existing footprint.

“We want to give our kids, especially in the older grades, the opportunity to have spaces to facilitate the types of learning they’re doing,” says Michael Dilworth, director of advancement. “It will give us more breathing room. Also, there’s the ancillary benefit where we can incorporate an improved art space and music space, which are both in the basement at the moment.” Enrollment might increase by a few dozen, but not much more than that.

The proposal, designed by MontgomerySisam Architects, retains the residential-style properties at 650, 658 and 660 Broadview Avenue but introduces new building forms behind and between 650 and 658 Broadview.

“We have been neighbours in Riverdale for a long time so we were happy to be able to maintain the integrity of the houses along Broadview. I think it will feel very much like the streetscape we have now, enhanced by a beautiful facility. I don’t know if I’d call the glass modern, but it integrates the old with the new," says Dilworth. "When someone is sitting in the art facility, they’ll see the exterior walls of those historic homes.”

The school will be embarking on a fund-raising campaign to pay for the project.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Michael Dilworth

Almost 2,000 homes built on waterfront since 2001

Waterfront Toronto has unveiled its first Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report since 2010, outlining how its redevelopment and reimaging efforts have extended beyond the basics of creating new communities on waterfront brownfields.

So far, the arms-length agency responsible for developing Toronto’s waterfront and portlands has overseen the creation of 496 affordable housing units with another 80 units under construction, with the private sector building 1,405 residential market units so far, with another 1,500 under construction. “The project will ultimately deliver 40,000 new residences, 40,000 new jobs and 300 hectares of public parks, making it one of the largest waterfront brownfield revitalization projects in the world,” states the report.

Four of the new buildings in the 2,000-acre area are certified LEED Gold for energy efficiency and sustainability, with 13 more in various stages of targeting LEED certification. Twenty-five parks and public spaces have been created or improved, and more than 28 kilometres of infrastructure constructed, including new watermains, sanitary and stormwater sewers. There’s been more than 3,600 trees planted and 108,920 square metres of aquatic habitat created.

“Construction projects on the waterfront are faced with complex urban conditions such as contaminated and geotechnically unstable soils, the result of many decades of infilling and high water tables,” stated John Campbell in his last letter as president and CEO. He’s stepping down this fall after 12 years on the job. “Often, outdated and unreliable drawings do not always accurately reflect underground infrastructure during planning and design. In the case of Queens Quay these challenges led to higher than anticipated costs. Lessons learned from past projects are used to inform our approach as we carry forward with waterfront revitalization.”

Waterfront Toronto was launched in 2001 with a 20-year mandate to redevelop the waterfront.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Waterfront Toronto

Province picks AECOM to oversee construction of new downtown courthouse

The province has chosen the Canadian arm of the international architectural firm AECOM to manage the planning, design and compliance of the construction of the new courthouse for downtown Toronto.

Years in the making, the proposed high-rise will bring eight facilities together under one roof on the site of what is currently a parking lot on Centre Avenue, just off University Avenue, saving money and increasing efficiency if all goes according to plan.

“Once completed, the new Toronto courthouse will be a state-of-the-art facility that will enable the province to continue delivering high-quality justice services for generations to come, while creating hundreds of jobs and stimulating our economy during the construction process,” said Brad Duguid, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure during the announcement. “We are one step closer to turning this vision into reality.”

The new courthouse's design will feature “video conferencing to allow witnesses to appear from remote locations and in-custody individuals to appear from jail; closed-circuit television to enable children and other vulnerable individuals to appear before the court from a private room; courtroom video/audio systems to allow counsel to display video evidence recorded in various formats and for the simultaneous viewing of evidence; a single point of entry with magnetometers, baggage scanners, continuous video surveillance, and separate corridors for judiciary, members of the public and the accused for security reasons; barrier-free access to all courtroom,” states the news release.

AECOM will be expected to produce a building design that meets LEED Silver standards, with a focus on energy efficiency, healthy indoor environments and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the planning, design and compliance aspects are completed, the Ministry of the Attorney General and Infrastructure Ontario will issue a request for qualifications, probably in the spring of 2016, for a team to design, build, finance and maintain the project using provincial alternative financing and procurement methods.

Based in Los Angeles, AECOM has designed, built, financed and operated infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. Its companies had revenue of $18 billion in the last fiscal year.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Infrastructure Ontario

RDH architects nap two national Architect Awards of Excellence for GTA projects

At last week’s Canadian Architect Awards, Toronto’s Rounthwaite, Dick and Hadley Architects took two of the five top prizes.

RDH won Awards of Excellent for its work on both Brampton Springdale Library and Neighbourhood Park and the new Eglinton GO Train station.

“They’re both completely different projects but the office has a consistent language and conceptual approach that’s reflected in both of them,” says Tyler Sharp, a principal at RDH.

Both projects do also share triangular influences. Although the Springdale Library is designed to organically blend with the park around with an amorphous edge where some of the rolling created topography of the exterior landscape is echoed inside the courtyards of the building, its overall shape is a triangle. The actual site is quite suburban and flat, so the hills and landscaping are meant to add interest and a greater level of engagement. A neighbourhood park with a splashpad for kids is separated from a terraced garden, intended for more contemplative uses.

The site for the GO Train station is also triangular, so Sharp and the team balanced that constraint against the perspective of the lines of sight of the train tracks. Compared to the infrastructure projects of the past, RDH was able to bring real imagination to the design. The tech specs on the station match other GO stations, but there was room to be creative.

“I think one of the reasons the Eglinton station was chosen was GO and Metrolinx’s attempting a paradigm shift in putting quality of design at the forefront of their projects,” says Sharp.

The Architect Awards recognize unbuilt work. Construction on the library and park project is expected to start soon with completion as early as the end of 2016. The Eglinton GO station has yet to be tendered is expected to be completed in 2017.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tyler Sharp


Residents turn up the volume on Davenport Diamond concerns as Metrolinx pushes January deadline

People living near the Davenport Diamond rail crossing have stepped up their campaign to get Metrolinx to consider options other than a proposed overpass intended to increase rail traffic through the neighbourhood.
Last spring Metrolinx announced its intentions to build an elevated structure of more than 1.4-kilometres in length in order to increase the frequency of GO trains along its north-south Barrie line, which currently crosses CP tracks north of Dupont Street. The provincial transportation authority dismissed the possibility of a trench or tunnel, which it said would be more expensive, and initially reached out to residents to consult on mitigating the impact of the overpass with community projects and recreational facilities.
Twice this year, the City of Toronto asked that the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), difficult to change once underway, be delayed until the spring so city planners could more closely examine the proposal. In October, Metrolinx agreed to the delay but backtracked on November 12 when Bruce McCuaig, president and chief executive officer at Metrolinx, sent the city a letter saying the TPAP needed to start in January, “citing any postponement beyond January would result in delays to increase transit service and electrify the corridor within the 10-year program established by the Province of Ontario,” states a city backgrounder.
“City staff have reviewed a number of Metrolinx documents and received additional information on the assessment of alternative solutions to the grade separation, including the trench and tunnel options,” states a November 16 city report. “Based on the information provided to date, city staff have determined the tunnel option, on balance, represents greater long term city-building benefits compared to the overpass option. The key benefit of the tunnel is the removal of visual and noise impacts compared to the overpass, and the translation of these benefits into positive long term societal impacts. However, additional time is required in advance of commencing the TPAP process to continue this assessment, and to work with the local community to achieve a balanced solution.”
In the meantime, more than 700 residents have signed a petition and put up yard signs protesting the overpass, which they describe as a “Gardiner for Go Trains.”
“Dozens of volunteers went door to door this weekend, distributing signs, collecting signatures for our petition and spreading the word about what Metrolinx is trying to do here,” Laura Zeglen, chair of the group Options for Davenport, said in a news release this week. “What is extremely troubling is the number of people we meet who had no idea about the overpass plan—or who had been told it was already a done deal.”
Zeglen says the group is not against increasing rail capacity in the GTA. “Expanding transit is important, but so are communities. One shouldn’t have to suffer at the expense of the other.”
City Council is expected to review the issue soon.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Sources: Laura Zeglen, City of Toronto
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