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Leslie Spit wetland creation project hits new milestone

A long-term plan to create wetland habitat on the Leslie Street Spit, also known as Tommy Thompson Park, hits a milestone this month, as contaminated materials on the site are capped by clean material that will provide a foundation for the plants and vegetation that provide home for a range of fish, birds and wildlife.
 
In 2007, a seven-hectare area called Cell 1 was completed and currently provides a habitat for marsh birds, including nesting common terns, turtles, amphibians, small mammals and native fish in areas that were used as confined disposal. Work on the area known as Cell 2, which is about nine hectares, started late last year. A layer of soil and clay is being created with about 21,500 truckloads of excavated material to make sure the underlying contaminated material is biologically unavailable.  Rock and wood will also shape the landscape.

One of the project’s challenges is making sure the layers of soil have the right elevation relative to the water levels of Lake Ontario. “The vegetation that is within the wetlands is driven by water,” says Karen McDonald, project manager with Restoration and Infrastructure Services at Toronto and Region Conservation Autority (TRCA). “Water levels within the Great Lakes are managed, and the management doesn’t necessarily facilitate the development of coastal wetlands. The lakes are managed for ships, not necessarily for habitat.”
 
While there is a detailed plan for how the wetlands should look, materials and site conditions will drive the work. Right now, dump trucks and bulldozers are the main tools for shaping the wetlands, with excavation continuing until things are frozen hard over the winter. In the spring, the living components of the wetlands will be added to the landscape.
 
“It’s basically gardening in water,” says McDonald. “We’ll be installing aquatic vegetation like potted plant material, native cattails, bulrushes and bur-reed into the completed area and then letting nature do the rest.”
 
One big surprise came in July when workers discovered Asian grass carp, an invasive species that’s not particularly welcome in the wetlands, in one of the contained ponds.
 
The Leslie spit’s job as a disposal site isn’t yet over. The final cell, called Cell 3, continues to be used for dredged materials, with approximately 30 to 40 years of capacity remaining.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Karen McDonald

LCBO opening new stores on Queen West and beyond

Tipplers, quaffers and especially Queen West hipsters will have more selection as the LCBO carries out its strategy to open new stores and improve old ones.
 
A new Parkdale LCBO opens on September 24 at 1257 Queen Street West, replacing the rather dumpy and overcrowded—but always entertaining if you’re in the mood for it—store around the corner on Brock Street. The new store, which has barrier-free parking, is much larger and will offer 423 linear feet of cold storage for beer in a cold room, up from 96 linear feet of cold storage in the old place.
 
“The new store will meet the demands of area residents,” says LCBO media relations coordinator Christine Bujold. The old store will likely close a day or so before the new one opens to allow staff to make the move.
 
By the end of the year, the LCBO will open a new store at 619 Queen Street West, near Portland, in a new building owned by Hullmark. The previous building on that site, the former home of Suspect Video, was destroyed in a 2008 fire that took out most of that block’s south side. The new store there will have more than 2,000 square feet of retail space.
 
And last month the LCBO opened at new 10,132 square-foot store at 111 St. Clair Avenue West at Avenue Road. That location has a substantial Vintages section and 136 linear feet of refrigerated beer shelving.
 
In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, the LCBO invested $57 million in its store network for renovations, maintenance and repairs to the existing network, as well as the construction, expansion and relocation of four stores in Toronto. A total of 23 near stores were opened including the GTA communities of Georgetown, Newmarket, Nobleton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Richmond Hill, Milton, Aurora, Courtice and Lindsay. That follows years where 30, then 25 stores were opened or reinvigorated.
 
“We are strategically adding new stores in densely-populated urban areas, which have experienced a sharp rise in condominium dwellings, as well as other communities that are witnessing significant population growth,” states the LCBO’s annual report. “New, upgraded and relocated stores create customer interest and, by extension, increase sales performance, which adds to the annual dividend the LCBO pays to the government to help fund infrastructure projects related to schools, roads and bridges, hospitals and social services.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Christine Bujold

Budget committee hears request for major bike infrastructure boost

The City of Toronto budget committee has heard a proposal to boost the cycling infrastructure budget to $20 million, more than double the current $8 million Toronto now spends.
 
The proposal comes on the recommendation of the Toronto Board of Health and would implement a “minimum grid” of cycling infrastructure by 2018. Without making a decision on the spending proposal, the budget committee voted to refer the item to the City Manager and the General Manager of Transportation Services for consideration for the 2016 budget and 2017-2025 Capital Plan.
 
“Despite the many health benefits, people who walk and cycle are at increased risk of injury or death as a result of collisions with motor vehicles when compared to people travelling in cars or using public transit. Concerns about safety can result in people being less likely to travel using these modes of active transportation,” states the letter from the board. “Implementing measures to slow driver speeds is an essential way to improve safety. Reducing posted speed limits as well as changes to the built environment such as designing streets that include narrower and fewer travel lanes, medians, and other traffic calming measures are effective ways to reduce speeds and therefore prevent injuries and deaths. Increased education for pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicle drivers will also improve safety by improving knowledge and skills.”
 
While rates of collisions that have resulted in pedestrian or cyclist injury declined in Toronto between 2003 and 2012, the total number of cyclist injuries is increasing considerably due to increased numbers of cyclists each year. “In addition, there has been an increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities in the last two years," states the letter.
 
A survey submitted by the group Cycle Toronto states that 73 per cent of Torontonians say a lack of cycling infrastructure is holding them back from riding more often. “A grid of protected bike lanes on main streets supported by a network of bicycle boulevards on residential roadways is a vital way to get Torontonians moving. Ridership rises when biking is easy, safe and comfortable,” says the document.
 
Meanwhile, the city is extending the separated bike lanes, known as cycle tracks, along Richmond and Adelaide streets eastward from University Avenue. Both cycle tracks will now connect from Parliament Street in the east to Bathurst Street in the west. Peter Street will also get bicycle lanes from King Street to Queen Street.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: City Clerk’s Office

Adi Development's Link2 brings an urban vibe to suburban Burlington

Burlington is not the first city—or perhaps even the 100th—that comes to mind when you think of contemporary design or urban density. That’s been changing slowly. Long seen as a bedroom community of housing loops sprawling between Oakville and Hamilton, Burlington is considered to be built out as far as it should go, especially considering how closely the city rubs against Ontario’s protected Greenbelt. But, in the last few years, the city has been working to urbanize its downtown core and increase residential density to make Burlington more walkable and amenable to transit.
 
This means that the timing’s been right for Burlington-based Adi Development Group to make a splash. When the group  launched in 2007, it brought a far more urban sensibility than the city was used to. But in 2015, Burlington is quickly catching up.
 
“The market has finally departed from the old sloped-roof, siding and brick stuff and is looking for new design-driven development,” says CEO Tariq Adi, who runs the business with brother Saud, who is COO.
 
With 143 units, their new Link2 Condominiums and Lofts project at Dundas West and Sutton breaks ground with a neighbourhood party this week. Named for the bridges that connect a series of six-storey buildings, the links allow the amenities to be centralized and also hide some of the driveways from view.
 
But more interesting is the way the project, designed by Toronto’s RAW Design, reimagines a pretty banal suburban corner as something of a hub. Though it’s next door to a cookie-cutter subdivision of single-family homes, Link2 makes a virtue of not only being close to Highway 407, but walking distance to a school, shopping (it will have its own commercial space at street level) and Bronte Creek Provincial Park. The three-acre property backs onto the protected green space, which required special consideration in design and construction.
 
“We had to create a buffer because it’s an environmentally protected zone,” says Adi. “We had to be careful with our lighting not to disturb the natural habitat that’s currently in the creek—birds, insects or even plant life. We had to work with conservation to create that point of demarcation.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tariq Adi

Another Church Street parking lot slated for development

With Church Street’s parking lots heading toward extinction, it looks like Pride Toronto is going to have to find new places to party.
 
This month Church/Wood Residences Limited Partnership filed for a zoning by-law amendment for a 45-storey mixed use building at 411 Church, at the south-east corner of Church and Wood. The half-acre site is currently a parking lot that’s provided a home to Pride’s South stage for more than a decade. The building as proposed would have a seven-storey base, about the same height as Maple Leaf Gardens across the street, and 583 residential units in a point tower.
 
“The north and south faces of the building are lined with balconies while the east and west faces are devoid of any balcony expression,” states the planning report filed with the city. “The balconies have a saw tooth profile that alternates from floor to floor creating a honeycomb pattern on the north and south faces. Due to the shifting planes of the balcony faces, the dividers are sloped as they connect between two levels and help complete the architectural expression.”
 
Pride has two other parking lots where it holds festival events: The parking lot at 15 Wellesley Street East, which is also being considered for redevelopment, and the parking lot at 514 Church Street, which came under new management this summer.
 
Further south, the parking lot at 412 Church Street, next to what used to be The Barn nightclub, now the Marquis of Granby, is slated for a 32-storey, privately run, student residence building with retail at grade. That building would have a five-storey base with commercial property, with a 27-storey tower with 119 units providing housing for 532 students. In May, City Council voted to oppose this project, which is now before the Ontario Municipal Board. The motion stated the proposal doesn’t conform to the Planning Act or the City of Toronto Official Plan and “represents over-development of the site.”
 
Construction of a 45-storey condo at 70 and 72 Carlton will eliminate the small private parking lot adjacent to 411 Church, while construction is underway at 365 Church Street as the former parking lot there is turned into a 31-storey condo with 360 residential units.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source, Mark Chlon, Senior Planner

Expansion of Markham Stouffville Hospital receives LEED Silver

After almost four years of construction and another year of paperwork, the Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) has received LEED Silver certification for its new 385,000-square-foot hospital expansion.
 
“I was jumping for joy,” says Suman Bahl, vice president, corporate services and capital development at MSH. “Overall we finished our project on time and under budget so this LEED Silver certification was like icing on the cake. Not that there was any doubt, but it’s a very tedious process. At one point we managed to get furniture that met the requirements of LEED and it was spreadsheets of every single item we ordered. There were thousands of line items for that one point.”
 
The LEED features, which are assessed and assigned points by the Canada Green Building Council after the building is complete, include a white roof membrane and green roof areas, exterior lighting designed to minimize light pollution and installation of low-flow fixtures to reduce water use. About 16 per cent of materials came from recycled content, while 31 per cent of material was manufactured and harvested within 800 kilometres of the project, or within 2,400 kilometres if shipped by rail or water.
 
In the year since the building was completed, hospital employees have gotten quite a bit of feedback, including compliments about the art. “It’s a calm, simple building without a lot of busy details,” says Bahl.
 
The expansion, which doubled the size of the hospital at a cost of about $400 million, makes MSH the first hospital in Ontario to build a central utility plant that supplies thermal energy, electricity and emergency power through Markham District Energy. Staff are still working on managing the new energy system to achieve maximum efficiency.
 
“The systems are all there and the technology is there to improve our energy usage, but we need to make a focused effort to get our usage down,” she says. “In some areas, you don’t have the same flexibility. An operating room runs 24/7 and even if it doesn’t run all night, you have to have the systems running in case there’s an emergency case. It’s not like we can just shut the lights off.”
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Suman Bahl

Rental replacements for Kingsway condo project could be located just down the street

The developer behind a luxury condo and townhouse development on The Kingsway may be allowed to build the replacement rental units it’s required to provide in another location.
 
North Drive Investments Inc. has proposed an eight-storey building with 30 condos and five street-level townhouses on a triangular piece of property at 2800 Bloor St. W., marketing the project as 4 The Kingsway (though that address currently doesn’t exist). The building, designed by architect Richard Wengle, would require the demolition of an existing building that has 10 rental units, all currently vacant.
 
“We want to be sure we replace the units that are being demolished,” says city planner Greg Hobson-Garcia.
 
Typically, the city would require those rental units to be built on the same site where they were lost. But heading into an October hearing at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), the city adopted a motion that would permit North Drive to provide those rental units further east, in another residential and commercial project North Drive has proposed for 2114 Bloor St. W. This kind of arrangement is unusual because it creates uncertainty around whether the rental units actually get built and are in the vicinity of the lost units. To set the city’s mind at ease, North Drive has submitted a Letter of Credit worth $1.5 million to secure the provision of the rental replacement units.
 
The development at 2114 Bloor St. W. is further dependant on the developer acquiring a small triangular piece of city land. City Council voted to support that deal and direct “that arrangements satisfactory to the City” are made for the owner to acquire the property. That 2114 Bloor St. W. proposal, for a 10-storey mixed-use building comprised of 110 residential dwelling units and street-level commercial property, has attracted the ire of some local residents.
 
The city also voted that the developer make Section 37 contributions of $200,000 and meet other design requirements in order for the 2800 Bloor St. W. project to proceed.
 
To speed things up, the OMB agreed in a July 29 decision to administer the two properties together during the hearing process.
 
Further complicating matters is that back in 2010, the city had passed a bylaw to let the previous property owner build an upscale seniors home on the site. That bylaw, which still dictates what can be done with the property, required that only three replacement rental units be built, though the city has argued that option was tied specifically to the seniors home proposal.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Greg Hobson-Garcia

Robertson Davies Park to get facelift from new next door neighbour

Robertson Davies Park, named after the internationally known author of Fifth Business, will get a revitalization as part of a new condo project from Brandy Lane Homes.
 
Described by The Globe and Mail as “non-descript expanse of grass bordered by train tracks” when it was named after the novelist in 2007, the park is right around the corner from the Oakland condo where Davies lived for 15 years. About a year ago, when Brandy Lane got involved with the project, at Avenue and Cottingham, president and CEO David Hirsh knew he wanted there to be a strong relationship between the nine-storey building and the park.
 
“With urban life having such a lack of green space, we thought that doing some park improvements would be very helpful to the neighbourhood and our residents. That’s part of our development agreement with the city,” says Hirsh. “Having the building ground itself in green we thought would be a beautiful thing.” The plan includes more trees, walkways and benches for the park. An earlier (and taller) proposal for the site, which went before the city back in 2011, upset some neighbours who feared they’d lose trees during construction.
 
The building itself, named The Davies after the park, will have 36 residences and eight penthouses. Designed by Daniel Cowling at SMV Architects, the building is intended to be iconic, yet fit comfortably into an established neighbourhood. A stone façade tracing undulating balconies, which have wood-grain on the undersides, is intended to conjure the tony style of Forest Hill and nearby Upper Canada College.
 
“It was really important for it to have a real sense of presence, place and a sense of arrival. We didn’t go for the typical glass building which has become a bit too prevalent in the city as far as I’m concerned,” says Hirsch.
 
The sales office opened early this summer, with construction expected to begin this time next year.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: David Hirsh

RAW Designís whimsical Parapan sculptures deliver time-limited fun

Not every structure has to last forever to provide citizens with delight.
 
In January, Toronto’s RAW Design hosted a competition (which we wrote about in February) to transform five lifeguard stations in Beaches Park into playful temporary shelters from the winter wind and cold, luring out Torontonians who would have otherwise stayed inside waiting for spring to come. The project was inspired by Winnipeg’s annual Warming Huts competition, and caught the attention of Yvonne Koscielak, the City of Mississauga’s public art coordinator, who was looking for a project to celebrate the Parapan Am Games.
 
The resulting collaboration, a temporary public art installation called Art of Sport: Fitness Follies, opened last week on the Mississauga waterfront and will close—likely—in just six weeks. The three brightly coloured pieces, called Synchronicity, Velocity and Colosseum, are “designed to engage the body in a different way, provoking participants to test their balance, agility and perception.” In Colosseum, for example, kids can weave around or climb on a circular field of wooden poles of different heights. A platform in the middle is meant to evoke a medal ceremony podium.
 
“It’s a fun thing to design because it’s ephemeral, not weighty. You don’t have to worry about it hanging around for a long time, which is not to say we don’t take it seriously,” says Roland Rom Colthoff, founder of RAW. “It takes us five years to do a building. This took us five months. The immediate impact and the pleasure of creation and seeing people use it right away is great for us.”
 
Although the location in Lakeside Park, at the bottom of Southdown Road on Mississauga’s waterfront trail, seems remote, it can be a busy, well-used recreational space.
 
“At the opening we saw people using it exactly how we thought they would be, climbing all over the telephone poles, sliding and running up and down Velocity and hopping from post to post on Colosseum,” says  Rom Colthoff.
 
At least two of the pieces are tough enough to find a permanent home somewhere, he says, when the six weeks are up.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Roland Rom Colthoff

Twin towers for King and Dufferin

A few years ago, Lifetime Development asked Core Architects to do “a little design” for a property it owned at 1221 King Street West, at Dufferin. One of the key intersections in that part of town, the corner is now a mishmash, with fast food outlets in some unremarkable buildings, as well as a bank in a heritage building that Lifetime’s property wraps around.
 
But when Lifetime acquired 1182 King Street West, diagonally across from their first property, Core Architects had a unique opportunity to more dramatically reimagine the corner. The firm came up with a design for twin buildings, one 19 storeys, one 21 storeys, that will provide a unified look at the intersection. Each of the two modern high-rises will have two storeys of retail providing a base for a six-storey podium of classic brick anchoring a mostly glass tower. “There will be a generous retail height that will attract some good tenants, not these little ma and pa shops,” says Charles Gane, Core’s principal in charge of the project.
 
The trick has been avoiding making the two-property project too matchy-matchy.
 
“I still have to solve that,” says Gane. “The two faces will have to speak to each other, one looking on Dufferin, one looking on King, with the long balcony faces. There will be a formal vocabulary so people will know they were built at the same time. Right now I think the northern building is the most evolved building, so there will be an evolutionary change in the design for the southern building.”
 
The project will take advantage of economies of scale, with both buildings going up at roughly the same time. Gane says more detailed designs will be submitted in the next three months. That would mean rezoning and the accompanying community meetings taking place over the next six months to a year.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Charles Gane

New Downsview campus opens whole new world for Centennial College aerospace students

Centennial College’s new Downsview Park Aerospace Campus, slated to begin construction this fall, has big shoes to fill.
 
The campus will provide aerospace training for up to 900 students at a time in a 130,000-square-foot space that’s the former home of the de Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd., a storied company founded in 1929 that built planes for the Second World War. The massive building also hosted the Canadian Air and Space Museum from 1997 to 2011 and was slated for demolition just four years ago.
 
Instead, it will be renovated into a teaching facility and innovation hub that will be Centennial’s fifth campus, a project expected to cost $55.4 million and create new partnerships between Centennial, other academic institutions like the University of Toronto, and the private sector.
 
The design is by MJMA, the architecture firm behind the Regent Park Aquatics Centre and Centennial’s own Ashtonbee Campus Library and Student Hub. While most of the building’s exterior will be preserved, maintaining the ample natural light, the interior will accommodate larger aircraft than the original builders could have imagined. The area where 7,000 employees used to work at the main assembly line will become the main foyer.
 
“The spirit is intact and will remain the same,” says Andrew Petrou, director of strategic initiatives and external relations at Centennial and executive director of the Downsview Aerospace Cluster for Innovation and Research (DAIR). “The design pays homage to the history of what’s come out of that building.”
 
Adjacent to the Downsview Airport and close to Bombardier’s Downsview plant and Defence Research and Development Canada, students in the aviation program, currently based in Scarborough, will have unprecedented access to the aviation sector.
 
 “It’s a real game changer,” says Petrou. “Students can look at the latest technology in seconds.”
 
The college also has plans for outreach to the local community, and to build bridges between small and medium sized businesses and the academic community that will inhabit the campus. The result, Petrou hopes, will be a more vital aerospace ecosystem that will keep Canada at the top of its game.
 
“Canada’s currently fifth in the world, but other countries have their eye on our spot,” says Petrou.
 
The campus is slated to open by fall 2017.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Andrew Petrou

Finalizing the redesign of Riverdale Park East playground

Although the green space around the Don Valley can seem unlimited, the space landscape architects DTAH has had to work with was pretty tight.
 
The plan for the revitalization of Riverdale Park East’s north-east quadrant off Broadview, just south of the Danforth, called for an artificial ice rink, a playground that would provide physical activity for kids aged nine to 12 and a pleasure skating trail, all squeezed into a space bordered by the outdoor Riverdale Pool, an off-leash dog park and a steep slope.
 
Rather than dropping some of the proposed programming, DTAH came up with an elevated spine with the rink as a hub for activities. The elevation itself would provide some of the challenge for the kids would be going to the park for—hiking uphill for a long slide down. Raising the elevation of the playground also makes it more visible.
 
“One of the challenges was the piecemeal objects in the site,” says Bryce Miranda, a principal at DTAH. “The landscape spine will unify many of the elements.” Following a public survey this month, DTAH is coming up with a detailed design that can be put out for tender for construction this fall, hopefully with a summer 2016 completion.
 
Providing better accessibility was also a priority. Right now access is down steep stairs at Broadview and Montcrest Boulevard. Improving the roadway to the pool was one possibility. Instead, they decided to create a new entrance opposite Tennis Crescent, which is also at a TTC stop. Miranda says the additional entrance will improve the feeling of safety. “The more entrances to the park, the better.”
 
The fence around the pool is non-negotiable, but a buffer of trees along its west side, facing the new playground spine, should make it less forboding.
 
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Bryce Miranda

Ryerson City Building Institute launches database of civil society organizations

A new database of organizations devoted to city building across the GTA and Hamilton aims to build capacity and cooperation among groups working on civil society issues in the region.

Launched last week, along with the first annual report on The State of City Building in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton City Region, the initial database contains listings for about 150 organizations ranging from Artscape and the Diversity Institute to the Toronto Environment Alliance and the Ontario Health Coalition. Rather than service providers, developers or government agencies, the database includes organizations that focus on public policy.

“We were quite careful to think of where we fit. We didn’t want to build a substitute for the Yellow Pages or a professional services directory. Those have been done well enough by other places,” says Tanzeel Merchant, executive director of the Ryerson City Building Institute, which is spearheading the project. Organizations can input the own listing, wiki-style, which is then reviewed by the institute. Merchant expects the database to grow to about 300 or 400 listings within a year. Toronto listings tend to dominate now, so they’ll be reaching out to boost listings in cities across the GTA and in Hamilton.

The database won’t go as far as providing a platform for organizations to communicate with each other directly, but will allow the participants and other researchers to easily see who’s doing what so they can follow up on their own.

“One of the things that’s surprised me is the exponential increase over the last 20 years in the number of organizations involved in city building. What it shows is a very clear intervention by individuals, and sometimes government, to find ways other than big government to influence change,” says Merchant. “More and more of the policy conversations and the change-making conversations are happening in other fora besides the legislature and cabinet.”

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Tanzeel Merchant

Latest Curated Properties venture conjures the north... south of Queen

For its latest project, developer Curated Properties didn’t look to the city for ideas; it looked to the wilderness.

“What inspired me was—right now I’m in Muskoka at my cottage, and I wanted to bring a modern interpretation of Up North Canadiana to the city. Sometimes you see all these projects and they call them The London or the Malibu or The San Francisco. Nobody’s really praising what we have here in Canada, whether it’s wood, stone or metal or the work of Canadian artisans,” says Adam Ochshorn, one of the two principals behind the boutique home builder.

Modern cottage finishes aside, Cabin at 45 Dovercourt, a short hop from the West Queen West entertainment district, fits well into Curated’s portfolio of projects. With 25 two-storey units in a six-storey midrise, the target is home buyers who want a distinctive HQ that has a homier feel than a high rise. The company’s locations, often infill sites, are usually close to, but not on, main streets. “Our buyers don’t want to be right in the party.”

Cabin has what Ochshorn calls an “outdoor connection space” accessible to the home owners on the ground floor, landscaped with tall grasses and ferns, and good-sized decks for the other units. No space for tall pines, unfortunately.

“I think the timing is right. I haven’t seen any other projects in the city like this one,” says Ochshorn.

The project contributes to the densification of south Dovercourt. Right next door is the 13-storey Orenda building on the former site of Dufflet Pastries. The much-debated Queen West Triangle buildings are just up Sudbury.

Curated already has another nearby project, a 12-unit renovation/expansion at 455 Dovercourt. Did Ochshorn take lessons from 455 to 45?

“Yes and no. When you have a project that sells out, you want to take your successes with you, but you don’t want to repeat yourself either,” he says.

The sales centre opens October 15, with construction taking place in 2016.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Adam Ochshorn

ZAS takes a multi-use design vision for Canoe Landing facility

When the team at ZAS Architects saw what was needed at Canoe Landing, they must have had a feeling of déjà vu.

With a City Place population of about 20,000 and growing, the city needed a structure that would provide a home for a Toronto District School Board school, a Toronto Catholic District School Board school, a community centre and a daycare for the booming vertical community. Consultation with residents suggested there would eventually be more kids raised there than you’d suspect considering the small size of most of the high-rise condos there. With little available real estate, all the partner facilities would benefit from shared spaces.

Flashback to more than 20 years ago. ZAS won the contract for the Humberwood Centre in Etobicoke near Finch and the 427. That project called for a Catholic school, a public school, a public library, a day nursery centre and a community rec centre, a mix which still succeeds at Humberwoods today. That experience gave ZAS the edge in winning the Canoe Landing contract.

“These type of projects represent a great opportunity to show that the sum of the whole is greater than the parts,” says ZAS principal Peter Duckworth-Pilkington. “We’re able to do more on the facility side than each of the partners could do by themselves. At Humberwood, we’ve got gyms that can be shared between the community centres and the schools. We’ve got senior groups that do cooking as part of a day program, but the kitchen is available to the school. So there’s a great intergenerational connection that can happen when you have these groups working together.”

“In our approach to architecture, we’re almost like set designers. We create the stage and the actors come on and bring it to life.”

School design requires safety consideration, so it’s a matter of designing spaces that can be supervised and can readily separate school use from public use. Technology will play a part in that. Because open space is so limited downtown, Duckworth-Pilkington says the building should feel like it’s part of the park; a green roof across the building will help with that.

One of the ways to prevent conflict is to have an operations working group as well as a design working group so the partners can create a plan for, say, how the building will be cleaned that will reflected in the actual design.

After a period of consultation into community needs, ZAS has started “taking pen to paper” to come up with a design by the end of the year to submit for multiple approvals. Construction would start in 2017 with opening in 2019.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source Peter Duckworth-Pilkington
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