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Kortright Centre building experimental subdivision

Imagine a subdivision of homes of the future—energy efficient, sustainable, accessible—where nobody lives, but is visited by hundreds of thousands of people.
 
That’s what the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is building at its Kortright Centre for Conservation in Vaughan. Construction will start in the next couple of weeks on the new BRE Innovation Park at the Living City Campus at Kortright. Although there are BRE (Building Research Establishment) parks in other countries, this will be Canada’s first, providing a stage for builders and suppliers to test new materials, products and building techniques and share the results with industry, government and academic researchers.
 
The site is already home to the Archetype Sustainable House, which showcases sustainable technologies, materials and practices. But over the next few years, that anchor project will be joined by seven new buildings of about 1,000 square feet each, forming a small inhabitant-less community. Installing the infrastructure will cost about $2 million—the City of Vaughan requires the project to be linked into the municipal sewer system—but much of the labour and material will be donated by partners eager to demonstrate how their innovative products and techniques can create more sustainable communities.
 
“Each of those new buildings will be built to different performance targets for water efficiency, energy efficiency, accessibility, etc. It’s basically a sandbox to test and evaluate green building technologies,” says Glenn MacMillan, senior manager of water and energy at TRCA. Some of the buildings, like the visitor’s centre that is being built by Ellis Don, will be owned by the authority, while others will be owned by the developer for up to five years.
 
 Although no one will live at the subdivision, the buildings will be tested for their liveability by the many visitors and by staff. “We can simulate as if someone is living there for research purposes,” says MacMillan. “We can control lightbulbs, heat, toilet flush, turn on washing machines. We have staff in the Archetype House doing research now so there are people coming and going all the time.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Glenn MacMillan

Toronto reached new heights during Yonge Street's lifetime

Founded in 2010, Yonge Street has covered growth and development during a remarkable period of Toronto’s history.
 
While cities south of the border have struggled with how to rise from the ashes after the global financial collapse of 2008, the main challenge I’ve faced as Development Editor (and before that as Managing Editor and Civic Impact Editor) has been choosing which of the myriad of projects unfolding across the GTA to write about. Yonge Street has never had to scramble for story ideas; it’s had to be strategic about sifting through a deluge of them to find projects that are the most innovative, the most engaged in creating a city bursting with public spaces and civic pride. A condo of less than 30 storeys hardly seems worth writing about these days, unless the development meets an incredible LEED standard, creates new parkland or otherwise makes a unique contribution to the community that will host it.
 
Projects like Diamond Corp’s The Well, covering seven and a half acres at Front and Spadina, the redevelopment of Honest Ed’s Mirvish Village, Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts on the site of the old Guvernment night club and, just last week, Menke Development’s purchase and redevelopment of 11 acres of provincially owned land on the waterfront will be transformative not just in their districts, but for the city as a whole.
 
And that’s just the private sector. Government-backed partnerships to redevelop Regent Park, the central waterfront and the West Don Lands have already rendered those districts unrecognizable to someone who hasn’t visited lately. And by “unrecognizable,” I mean that thoughtfulness and smarts have swept aside decades of neglect.
 
Sometimes the rapidity of the GTA’s growth can be worrying. The towers going up like dandelions along Yonge Street from Dundas to Bloor could turn our adorably ramshackle main street into something like a Bay Street wind tunnel. The towers going up on Church Street could make the Village a much less affordable place for young LGBT people just starting out. Liberty Village and the Queen West Triangle have seen their share of uninspired design.
 
But over the last six and a half years I have seen an increasing conscientiousness among the top developers, and an increasing diligence and vision among city planners (shout out to chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat). To my taste, at least, the projects unveiled in the last three years have been better designed and more thoughtfully integrated into their neighbourhoods than what went up in Yonge Street’s first three years. Given the opportunity, clear expectations and useful community feedback, many developers want to build beautiful buildings and to create resilient, accessible and diverse communities. The latter has become a sales feature.
 
The increasing amount and quality of public interest and public consultation have pushed our leaders to do better. There has been more collaboration between government and the private sector to build small-business incubators, community hubs, affordable housing, recreational facilities, green space and even schools into new projects. These have been years when great ideas can become reality.
 
I can sympathize with those who complain, “Not another freaking condo!” The number of wallet-emptying floor-to-ceiling-window glass boxes in the sky is no measure of a healthy, thriving city. But little by little, the bar has been raised. I’m proud Yonge Street has been part of that conversation.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant

City welcomes inclusionary zoning legislation as new tool to create affordable housing

The provincial government has introduced legislation that gives the city the power to require developers to include affordable housing in their residential projects.
 
The Promoting Affordable Housing Act will permit municipalities to create inclusionary  zones, areas in which all new residential developments would be required to include affordable housing. Although developers are often able to override city dictums by appealing decisions to the Ontario Municipal Board, it would be mostly prohibited in these cases.
 
“Appeals of inclusionary zoning official plan policies and zoning by-laws to the Ontario Municipal Board would not be permitted, except by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing,” states the news release. “Under the proposed changes, municipalities could not accept cash-in-lieu of affordable units, and developers could not provide affordable units on another site.”
 
The city’s housing advocate, Councillor Ana Bailão, welcomed the legislation, but said the city still has a lot of work to day to create effective inclusionary zoning policies.
 
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure inclusionary zoning delivers real results for people in need of affordable homes,” Bailão stated in a news release. “However, it is important to remember that inclusionary zoning will not solve Toronto’s housing crisis on its own. Inclusionary zoning will join the growing menu of tools the city has to support our affordable housing agenda.”
 
The province considers a home affordable when residents do not pay more than 30 per cent of gross income on annual accommodation costs or, the purchase or rental price is at least 10 per cent below average market value.
 
The province is looking for public input on the bill until August 16. Inclusionary zoning has been used extensively by communities around the world, including in England and in over 500 municipalities in the United States.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

UTSCís secondary plan balances growth and nature

Since approving its master plan in 2011, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) has invested almost a half a billion dollars in infrastructure, including the $205-million Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, the Environmental Science and Chemistry Building and the Instructional Centre.
 
But that’s only the beginning of the reinvention of the campus, which will eventually be linked to rapid transit by the Crosstown LRT, making it more accessible to students, staff and the wider community.
 
“The opportunities here are just accelerating, I think, and we want to be able to leverage the best opportunities we can,” says Brent Duguid, director of partnerships and legal counsel at UTSC.
 
Last month UTSC held a public open house to examine its draft secondary plan, which will provide a finer grain rollout of the masterplan. Several new development projects are currently in the planning stages, including Highland Hall, which is the redevelopment of the old athletic centre that’s been replaced by the Pan Am complex, a new parking structure and a 750-bed undergraduate student residence, which will double the number of student beds at UTSC. A feasibility study for a hotel and conference centre is also in the works. Military Trail, which cuts diagonally across the campus, is being re-aligned, with at-grade retail uses encouraged along it to create an animated and vibrant streetscape and to compensate for the lack of shopping and eating in the area surrounding the sprawling campus. “The larger open spaces will be augmented by a series of walkways, landscaped streets, courtyards, lawns and other open spaces that will provide for an enhanced campus setting” states the presentation delivered at the open house.
 
Despite all the new building, the secondary plan aims to maintain the campus’ relationship with the Highland Creek Ravine, preserving natural and open space particularly in the south of the campus. “It is anticipated that some development, particularly the transit investments and realignment of Military Trail, may impact some of natural resources,” states the open house presentation. “Any impacts will be mitigated through restoration and renaturalization programs elsewhere on campus to ensure a net benefit overall to the campus natural heritage system.”
 
Duguid says the draft secondary plan should be ready for the City of Toronto to review within the next month.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Brent Duguid

Thriving spaces need more than good design, says Park People report

As the province reviews changes to its growth plans for Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Area and the Niagara Escarpment, the advocacy group Park People is making a case for the importance of creating and sustaining vital public spaces in increasingly densely populated environments.
 
Its new Thriving Spaces report is something of a toolkit for planners, politicians and other decision makers to get them to think creatively about ensuring that our growing and densifying communities still have space to play and relax. “I also hope that the report places an emphasis on partnerships and people as well as design. We often focus very heavily on design when we talk about parks and public spaces, but the people who use those spaces, the types of activities they want to see there and how they can become more involved in these spaces, need to be considered,” says report author Jake Tobin Garrett, manager of policy and research at Park People.
 
The report examines 15 case studies, ranging from 11 Wellesley West, used as an example of how to consolidate space while work with developers, to Simcoe Promenade in Markham, used as an example of how linear parks can link residents, retail, and other green spaces. Although ideas that have worked in one community can be borrowed and adapted for other places, rising real estate prices and the density of established communities can create particular challenges.
 
“It requires planning for new categories of parks such as linear parks and urban squares, but also expanding the scope of the open space network to include opportunities in our infrastructure corridors, schoolyards, streets, and other public spaces,” states the report. “It includes creative designs that leverage adjacent street space as flexible, shared space and all-year amenities that provide people with activities whether it’s hot or cold outside. It also includes new ways of funding and acquiring parkland, whether sharing maintenance costs with nearby property owners or tapping into private donations and sponsorships.”
 
Tobin Garrett says some municipalities have improved their processes for creating public space, for accommodating varying uses and for taking into account factors like weather. “We do have many months of the year where it’s cold and some of the newer parks and open spaces we’re seeing can be used all year round, and are have active programs in the winter as well as the summer months,” he says.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Jake Tobin Garrett

Design review panel suggests 'pencil towers' for Chelsea Hotel redevelopment

The plan to demolish the Chelsea Hotel at Yonge and Gerrard, replacing it with a cluster of tall buildings and open pedestrian spaces, got generally favourable reviews at the City of Toronto Design Review Panel last month.
 
“Panel members were appreciative of this remarkable opportunity to transform the site from the existing “Chelsea Hotel blight” to a pedestrian-oriented area with open space connections,” state the minutes to the April panel meeting. “Several members noted the significant improvements from the first iteration of the project shown in the presentation.”
 
The proposal from Great Eagle Hotels would replace the hotel, which currently has 1,590 rooms in a single 26-storey building, with four mixed-use towers containing residential, hotel, office and retail space. There’d be towers of 80, 74, 50 and 46 storeys, challenging the skyline dominance of the 74-storey Aura building to the north. The complex would provide 1,897 residential units, 300 hotel suites and 5,776 square metres of office and commercial space. The existing building was built in 1975 as apartments and a hostel, but was modified into a hotel, with a 600-room addition built in 1990. Not surprisingly to anyone who’s taken a look at it, the building is not a candidate for designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.
 
Experts on the city’s review panel liked the “porosity” that the multiple buildings will bring to the block, particularly the creation of new north-south and west-east connections. Several members suggested that the design needs a strong connection to Yonge Street, with bold visual elements and a welcoming pedestrian experience. Despite its size, the current building is relatively hidden from Yonge Street.
 
The separation space between the towers and the setback from neighbouring properties were concerns for some members. One suggestion was moving the south tower further west, which might also help enclose the back of 18 Elm Street and provide better views to the northeast tower looking south.
 
“A panel member noted that ‘pencil towers’ (towers with smaller floorplates) are likely possible here and would improve setback conditions,” state the minutes.
 
The panel’s feedback are non-binding, but will have an effect on planning decisions for the project.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto Design Review Panel

Reimaging Yonge Sheppard Centre was a tricky prospect

What to do with ugly 1970s complex that architecturally shows something like hostility to the corner it sits on, even though it’s an important corner?
 
That was the challenged faced by Quadrangle architects when the firm won the competition to reinvent and expand RioCan Yonge Sheppard Centre soon after the REIT, along with partner KingSett, bought the office and commercial property, which sits atop the subway station linking Line 1 and Line 4.
 
“It’s, first of all, a very dated mall, pretty faithful to its 1976 design, and it’s quite detached from the street. You can't walk directly into it. There’s a moat around it. You have go upstairs or downstairs to get into it. And the retail presence is internalized. It doesn’t have a good street face to it,” says Quadrangle principal Anna Madeira.
 
Construction started this spring on the retail portion of a plan that will over the next two years ultimate add a new 39-storey 400-unit residential tower to the complex, as well as a second daycare facility and a community room. Bringing these new uses to an updated complex, and making sure the building functions better as a TTC hub, were not the only challenges. Quadrangle also had to make sure the building remained operational during construction, as required by long-term tenants. Towers at the north and south of property were to remain untouched above the first couple of storeys, much to the chagrin of Madeira and other partners. “We would have loved to have had our hands on those towers, but the most important part of the project is the ground plane,” she says.
 
To better connect the building to the street, Quadrangle came up with a design that pushes the building’s outer wall out toward the sidewalks on Yonge and Sheppard. That makes for a better retail showcase, and means the entrances will be at-grade at sidewalk level, with the steps up and down inside the mall. As an added bonus, the TTC entrance, now reached through a covered outdoor space, will be accessible from all levels of the mall. “We wanted to make the flow and circulation feel like it was part of the mall. Rather than being an in-between space, it’s part of the public space,” says Madeira.
 
Even with construction already started, the project can still feel like a moving target as new construction quirks are revealed.
 
“The nature of working with such a complicated existing building is that you have to be always on your toes, and the design has to evolve and change,” says Madeira.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Anna Madeira

The 519 reaches out to community for Moss Park recreational redevelopment

Community consultations will start this month as the city and The 519 community centre move forward on the possible redevelopment of John Innes Community Centre, Moss Park Arena and the surrounding park space.
 
The idea was first floated a few years ago, in the midst of the excited lead-up to last summer’s Pan Am Games, as an LGBTQ-focused sports facility. But the initiative has been broadened in the feasibility stage, expected itself to cost as much as $1.6 million, to be a more inclusive community-based recreational facility, not focusing exclusively on LGBTQ users, but building on The 519’s success at creating a welcoming atmosphere for diverse communities at its base at Church and Wellesley.
 
At the very least, the plan would replace the existing recreational infrastructure and redeveloping the entire park space and sports field. But it could be more ambitious than that. “We imagine, given the evolution of the neighbourhood and the population changes projected over the next 20 or 30 years for downtown Toronto, that that will include a substantial increase in the overall envelope of the building, but we’ve also committed to maintaining as much parkland and sports field as possible,” says Maura Lawless, executive director of The 519. There’s been no financial commitment by the city yet and no talk at this point of bringing private developers on board.
 
Last month, local activists hosted a town hall meeting questioning whether the 519 plans would speed gentrification of Moss Park, driving out lower-income and other marginalized people like sex workers. Lawless says the public consultation process, which will hold its first public meeting on May 31 and a design-oriented public meeting on June 6, have been in the works for a while and is not a response to the criticism. Still, Lawless says there have been some misunderstandings.
 
“We understand those concerns and that’s why we think it’s incredibly important that the communities who live in those neighbourhoods now shape and inform the site design, the priorities that are relevant to the current community,” she says.
 
Three community organizers have been hired to reach out to social-service organizations and bring the voices of homeless people, people living Toronto Community Housing and other marginalized community members to the table. “These are folks who may not necessarily come out to the traditional community conversation,” says Lawless. “We as an organization have expertise in terms of the LGBT community, but this facility is intended to be open and accessible to everyone. At some level there’s been some misinformation that’s gotten out in terms of this being a gay gym or only accessible to some people. That’s fundamentally untrue.”
 
The consultation period will end September 30, with a report expected to go before council by the end of the year.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Maura Lawless

Shuter wing of St. Michaelís hospital to be replaced by modern glass structure

St. Michael’s hospital has filed an application with the city to demolish its five-storey Shuter Street wing, built in 1910 with additions in the 1950s, to be replaced with a modern six-storey building for an expanded emergency department.
 
The new Shuter building, currently proposed as “a modern glass volume that provides a sleek foil to the heavy masonry buildings of the past,” will be connected to the Bond wing, a 1937 building by a two-storey entrance hall. Though the 1910 building is not protected, City Council has stated its intentions to designate the Bond wing as a heritage building worth of preservation.
 
“The proposed development has been designed to balance the evolving needs of St Michael’s Hospital while respecting the existing Bond Wing,” states the Heritage Impact Assessment filed in April. “The proposed alterations will improve universal access to the hospital and will allow for a better user experience of the Bond Wing, appropriately conserving the heritage resources…. While the new Shuter Building will require alterations to the Bond Wing, the design respects and maintains the relationship of the lobby entrance and existing courtyard through the use of transparent materials and setback from the existing building. As part of the rehabilitation of the designated Bond Wing building, conservation work including any necessary cleaning, restoration and repair of masonry will be completed as required.”
 
The proposal includes improvements to the pedestrian realm on Bond and Shuter streets. “Bond Street carries a complete redesign of the sidewalk and streetscape cross-section, including the reintroduction of street trees, curb side planting, lighting and supportive landscape on the parallel private property adjacent to the street,” states a letter to the city from the hospital’s lawyers.
 
The plan, on the northeast corner of the hospital site, is just part of a much larger scale renewal. The 17-storey Patient Care Tower, on the southwest corner of the property, is currently under construction.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Heritage Impact Assessment: 30 Bond Street, St. Michael’s Hospital

Bloor Annex BIA shows off new greening plan

Last week the Bloor Annex BIA unveiled its plans to green its patch of Bloor between Spadina and Bathurst.
 
The initiative will create four parkettes on city-owned rights-of-way, replace the existing raised tree planter with trees at sidewalk level and increase the amount of bike parking along the street. More than 100 people attended the open house and provided feedback on the preliminary designs that landscape architects dtah have been working on since last spring. The plan, 10 years in the making and expected to cost about $1.5 million, started with a growing frustration with the concrete tree planter boxes on Bloor.
 
“It’s a very busy street, day and night, and these things just get in the way. The attract garbage, they’re unsightly and, this might be the strongest point of all, they don’t allow the trees to grow to maturity,” says Brian Burchell, chair of the BIA. “Various technologies have been developed in recent years where tree pits can be built that allow the root systems to expand where the tree itself can mature and we’re not constantly fighting with Toronto Forestry to get our trees replaced in the planter boxes.”
 
The parkettes will see asphalts ripped up and replaced by long-lasting wood decking, seating made from Canadian granite, trees and planting that are pollinator-friendly for bees, birds and butterflies.
 
After going through the feedback from last week’s open house, the designers will come up with more detailed plans on where the trees and the bike parking will go, and what the parkettes will look like. Those plans will be presented to the public in the fall before they are submitted for approval by city engineers by the end of the year; shovels should go in the ground in 2018.
 
With the city considering approval of a Bloor bike lane pilot project this month, the new bicycle parking seems particularly timely. But Burchell says the improvements are needed just to meet current demands. “In peak usage of cycling, you can’t find a place to park your bike. It’s a problem,” he says.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source Brian Burchell

Real estate conference explores carbon reduction & urbanization

With buildings accounting for about 50 per cent of the GTA's greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the efficiency of our built form is the easiest and cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions.
 
At next month’s Land and Development Conference, attended by some of the city’s most high-profile owners, developers, investors, and lenders, two sessions will spotlight the relationship between urbanism and the environment.
 
“It’s fantastic that they’re now including this perspective on climate change and the role that the building and real-estate sector have in advancing a low-carbon economy, and looking at the challenges and opportunities for the sector,” says Julia Langer, CEO of Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), who will be leading a session on how cities can reduce their dependence on water and other resources, while improving health, biodiversity and waste management.
 
There’s certainly a stereotype that developers care only about maximizing profit on any given piece of real estate, properties that show well to prospective buyers—floor to ceiling windows, for example—even if they are not the best for the environment. But Langer says the industry has been improving, as has consumer awareness of the need for sustainable buildings. “There’s attention through the LEED program, through green features. People prefer well-built buildings if they’re sold that way,” she says. “What hasn’t improved as much is attention to de-carbonization. We’re getting more bells and whistles than getting fundamentally to net zero in new construction. Of course, most of the buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist now, so the retrofit agenda really has to be accelerated.”
 
Through its Green Condo Loan program, TAF has helped developers like Tridel, M5V and Ottawa’s Windmill build projects that perform much better than building codes when it comes to energy efficiency; costs can be recovered through the condo corporation when they find they are paying much lower energy and water bills.  
 
The Land and Development Conferences starts Monday, May 9.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Julia Langer

Tridel, Mattamy, Daniels, Brand Factory among top BILD Award nominees

It’s the time of year when the GTA construction industry has its Oscar moment.
 
The 36th annual BILD Awards celebrates builders, developers, designers, architects, and sales and marketing professionals for quality work.
 
With so many tower projects underway, the battle for mid/high-rise project of the year is particular heated this time around.
 
Vying for the title is The Daniels Corporation’s Lighthouse Tower at Daniels Waterfront—City of the Arts, with architecture from Giannone Petricone Associates Inc. Architects and interiors by Cecconi Simone Inc. and NAK Design Group; Freed Developments and Capital Developments’ Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos, with design by Cecconi Simone Inc. and DesignStor; Mattamy Homes Limited and Biddington Homes’s J. Davis House, with architecture from GCB Interior Architecture Inc.; and Signature Communities’ East United Condos, with architects Giannone Petricone Associates Inc and interiors by The Design Agency.
 
Lighthouse Tower at Daniels Waterfront—City of the Arts, Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos, J. Davis House and East United Condos are also up for the People’s Choice Award, along with Geranium Corporation and Pemberton Group’s Friday Harbour, Great Gulf Homes’ Brockton Commons, Kylemore Communities’ Kennedy Manors and Zinc Developments’ 35 Wabash.
 
You see some familiar names up for  Home Builder of the Year—Mid/High-Rise (Aspen Ridge Homes, Empire Communities, Minto Communities, Tridel), Home Builder of the Year—Low-Rise (Brookfield Residential, Great Gulf Homes, Mattamy Homes Limited, Minto Communities) and for Green Builder of the Year (Mattamy Homes Limited, Minto Communities, Stanton Renaissance
Tridel).
 
The awards also recognize marketing savvy. Toronto-based advertising and digital agency The Brand Factory and the company’s real estate group have nominated for 26 awards, including two out of the four total nominations for Best Overall Marketing Campaign (Pinnacle) Award for their work with Friday Harbour All Seasons Resort and Zinc Development’s 35 Wabash (Zinc Developments).
 
THE WINNERS, ANNOUNCED APRIL 28:

Project of the Year, Mid/High-Rise
Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos
 
Project of the Year, Low-Rise
35 Wabash
 
Best New Community, Planned/Under Development
Queensville
 
Best New Community, Built
Hullmark Centre
 
Green Builder of the Year
Tridel
 
Home Builder of the Year, Mid/High-Rise
Tridel
 
Home Builder of the Year, Low-Rise
Great Gulf Homes
 
People’s Choice Award
Friday Harbour
 
BILD Lifetime Achievement Award
Ignat “Iggy” Kaneff

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: BILD GTA 

Condo on stilts give Widmer Street heritage homes some breathing room

Throughout Toronto’s tower boom, there’s been a growing reliance on a particular idea of what a tall building should be: a podium of several stories that pretty much fills the site and provides retail space at street level, on which sits a more slender point-tower reaching for the sky.
 
But the six yellow-brick townhouses at 8-20 Widmer Street just south of Adelaide, all of them built between 1876 and 1878 and all of them listed historic properties, gave Scott Shields Architects a unique opportunity to think beyond the podium for the Clairville Holdings’ 56-storey, 583-unit condo tower slated for the block. Rather than absorb the townhouses into the larger structure, the proposal, filed with the city for approval earlier this month, pushes the tower back from the street. The tower’s upper stories are supported by diagonal stilts rising up from behind the three-storey townhouses.
 
“We love heritage and the owner of the property loves heritage. The townhouse are pretty, but to be honest, they’re in pretty rough shape,” says Deborah Scott, principal at Scott Shields. “There are lot of steps to get up, then about three steps to get down to the basement, which is not ideal for turning them into commercial/retail.” So after excavating the site and building underground parking beneath the townhouses, they will be restored to essentially what they already are: six individual homes, with patios out front and a laneway behind them, separating them from the tower.
 
To the south of the site, where there’s a large laneway between the proposed building and King Street’s Hyatt Regency, Clairville has proposed a parkette that will also serve as the pedestrian entrance to the tower. “We wanted to let the townhouses be on their own. We’re not filling up the lower level with mass. We’re leaving it light and airy,” says Scott. “In this part of downtown, with more space at the base, nobody cares how high you are anymore, I think.”
 
About three storeys above the townhouses—six storeys from the ground—the tower gets wider, providing something of a canopy over the heritage properties. The idea for the stilts came, in part, from the Standard Hotel in New York City, under which the High Line elevated park passes. “They have some amazing columns that hold their building up, and they’re so beautiful. We can make these columns so refined. They will be angled a bit. They’re also like tree trunks.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Deborah Scott

One Bloor West gets a more refined look

Mizrahi Developments turned a lot of heads last spring when it unveiled its proposal for 1 Bloor West, the long-time home of Stollery’s menswear. At 318 metres, the Foster + Partners building would have been out-heighted only by The CN Tower, soundly beating out the 257-metre One Bloor East building that’s risen across the street.
 
Last month, Mizrahi presented a refined plan to the city planning department and to the Design Review Panel, taking the height down to 304 metres—72 storeys instead of 84 in order to minimize shadow impact on Jesse Ketchum Park. The density of the proposal has decreased, as has the non-residential floor area and the residential floor area.
 
The experts on the Design Review Panel, which provides non-binding advice to developers and planners, gave the revised proposal a thumbs up, with six members out of seven supporting the new design. Still, panelists thought there was room for improvement as the project makes its way through the planning process.
 
“The unique location at a major transit hub and important corner in the city was noted as a huge opportunity for city building and will be a long lasting legacy for the future,” state the minutes. “Many Panel members were appreciative of the general improvements and progression of the design since the first review. As per previous comments, panel advised that the significant scale of the project merits a meaningful contribution, particularly to the public realm and transit connections, and this should progress further.”
 
The panel suggested developing the design to more sensitively address the existing heritage buildings; enhancing the “civic quality” of the tower base, including improved public connectivity to the TTC subway station; resolving wind control to ensure pedestrian comfort at street level; developing podium facades to achieve greater clarity and resolution; and reconsidering the tower crown proportions to match elegance of the shaft. “Several members commended the potential elegance of the tower, with one member noting the tower as ‘outstanding.’ The clarity of the structural expression was appreciated by several members who noted it to have positively generated the form of the tower,” states the panel. But “several members commented that the top of the tower appears to be squat in an otherwise elegant tower, and the proportions unresolved.”
 
The heritage impact assessment submitted with the new designs suggested that the building’s podium reflect the scale and massing of the surrounding historic buildings, including structures that will be incorporated. The development site currently has six commercial buildings fronting Yonge Street, ranging from two to three storeys. “The building at 774 possesses heritage attributes with Italianate style features and its facade, and street massing will be incorporated in the development. The remaining buildings have been demolished to permit a larger pedestrian sidewalk combined with retail space.”
 
 Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City of Toronto, Design Review Panel

OCAD U continues reinvention of McCaul Street

Last week when OCAD University announced its new a $60-million Creative City Campus project, it was giving itself a lot more room to grow, with an 55,000 square feet of new space and a renewal of another 94,700 square feet of existing space.
 
But it was also furthering the transformation of the intersection of Dundas and McCaul streets—already home to two of pieces of iconic Toronto architecture, Frank Gehry’s redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario and OCAD U’s own Will Alsop-designed Sharp Centre for Design—and taking another step toward turning McCaul into a cultural corridor.
 
“There will be a real sense of continuity as one walks down McCaul from that gateway intersection. We are going to be revitalizing the George Reid House building, creating much better viewpoints to Grange Park, refurbishing the portico area and participating with the AGO on a thoroughfare from Grange Park to Butterfield Park and an upgrade of their park area as well as ours,” says OCAD U president Sarah Diamond. “We may also have the opportunity on McCaul Street to do some work with our neighbours to really beautify the street and create a dynamic entry point to the cultural community within the city of Toronto.”
 
The designs for renovations at 100 and 115 McCaul—the George Reid building and the new Centre for Experiential Learning in the Rosalie Sharp Pavillion, respectively—will have to take into account their proximity to two of Toronto’s most attention-grabbing buildings. OCAD U has decided to go ahead with the Bortolotto Architects design for 115 McCaul that would have a dramatic scrim wrapped around the building, peeling away at the corner to reveal what’s going on inside through a glass wall. The Diamond Schmitt Architects preliminary proposal for 100 McCaul, which is yet to be put out for an RFP, is less showy, as the building is below the famed Alsop building.
 
“I would say the Bortolotto is a powerful design intervention, really tasteful and absolutely considered in relation to the Sharp Centre and the AGO,” says Diamond. “Because we’re building out [at 100 McCaul], any architect doing that work will have to think really carefully to do something subtle enough and beautiful enough that doesn’t compete with what will be three iconic buildings—even though the Bortolotto is small, it will be gorgeous. It will require a lot of collaboration.”
 
The project at 115 McCaul is expected to be complete during the 2018-2019 school year; the 100 McCaul project in 2019-2020. The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has invested $27 million in the project.

 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sara Diamond
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