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Great Gulf unveils its Active House

"When we learned of the internationally based Active House Alliance, established with an ambition to build homes that create healthier and more comfortable lives for their residents without impacting negatively on the climate and environment," says Madeline Zito, director of public relations for Great Gulf Homes, "we knew this was the right association for us to work with in order to progress our objectives and learning."

Great Gulf, which does high-rise business downtown under the name Tucker Hirise, has built Canada's first house built to the specifications of the Danish-led Active House organization, a non-profit consortium of academics, activists and corporations dedicated to developing systems and technology to lighten the footprint of homes.

Great Gulf says that the grand opening of the Thorold, Ontario house on Oct, 16, attended by the Danish ambassador, Niels Boel Ambrahamsen, marks a new step in the company’s interest in green building.

"The Alliance includes the whole supply chain in the construction sector from manufacturers to architects, engineers, builders and investors, to research institutes, universities and branch organizations," Zito says. "The Alliance has developed specifications, standards, and tools, for active houses and the members are involved in demonstration projects, knowledge sharing, webinars, etc. The wish of the members is that Great Gulf Active House become the future principle for new residential buildings in Canada."

The house itself will act as a research tool for Great Gulf and their partners to study the effect and effectiveness of various building materials, products and techniques that will be incorporated into future developments.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Madeline Zito

Tommy Thompson Park gets three new buildings

Three small buildings opened on Leslie Spit last week, giving an air of permanence and purpose to what’s been called an accidental urban wilderness.

According to James Roche, director of parks, design and construction at Waterfront Toronto, the spit was created as a breakwater for the outer harbour, part of a shipping plan for the Port of Toronto that was made obsolete before it was completed by the development of container ships.

Since the 1950s, it has been a dumping ground for building materials, and has grown into a multi-armed agglomeration that over the years has cultivated its own ecosystem.

"A lot of different species of animals live there now," Roche says, "and it’s a very important flyover stop for birds going to South America."

The three buildings -- a staff booth, an environmental shelter and a bird-banding hut -- are an attempt to make official the casual uses it's been put to. The staff booth will serve as a monitored entryway, enforcing the park's hours. The environmental hut will be a sort of interpretive centre, with information about the spit and its species, that also serves as a way to get out of the sun, rain or snow. The bird-banding hut will centralize the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s efforts in that area, just in time for the Tommy Thompson Spring Bird Festival on Saturday.

Work started on the project in the fall of 2010, and Roche says the entire project, including a spiffing up of several kilometres of walking and bike paths, cost $8 million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: James Roche

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

River City 2 enters pile-driving phase

If you’ve gone east on either King or Queen to cross the bridge into Riverside, you can’t help but to have noticed the enormous development going on between the two streets. It’s called River City, and few Toronto condos have been more aptly named.

The pilings are just now being put into the ground for River City 2, the second of what will ultimately be four phases of this massive addition to the city, one that may just make that Don River of ours into something people occasionally remember exists.

"We started construction in the beginning of February," says Jeff Geldart, Urban Capital’s development manager in charge of River City. "We’re currently drilling for caissons and piles -- the foundation system -- because we don’t have any program underground. We’re not allowed to build down."

Geldart explains that they’re not allowed to dig out a foundation of the sort we’ve become used to around the city because they’re building on a flood protection landform built by Infrastructure Ontario to protect the city’s core from the sort of flooding New Orleans experienced after Hurricane Katrina. Geldart describes the landform as "an extremely large berm," and says that the first three phases of the project are all being built on it.

River City 2, designed by the Montreal firm of Saucier and Perrotte with 249 units in three 12-storey mini-towers, will be completed in two years, with the entire project is expected to be done sometime between 2018 and 2020.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jeff Geldart

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Tower renewal talk brings Australian expert to town

I once asked former mayor David Miller in an interview what excited him most about the city. I'd come to expect unusual answers to usual questions from this mayor, but still I was surprised when instead of saying the film festival or our wonderful multiculturalism or our scintillating high school football scene, he said "tower renewal."

Though deeply unglamorous, Toronto's program to give new life to its many old residential towers, built from the 1950s to the 1980s, by making them sustainable, more communal and prettier is, in fact, quite exciting. Exciting enough to bring Dr. Rebecca Leshinsky up from the Melbourne, where she teaches at the Catholic University of Australia, to talk this week on the subject at the Innis Town Hall.

Leshinsky is studying her own city's towers and what might be done to rehabilitate them. "We came across Toronto's tower renewal program and we thought there may be some learnings that each of us could teach each other," she said, shortly after landing in Toronto. "I think Toronto is ahead of Melbourne, but I hope through the research we do we can offer some of our findings."

Her talk concentrated on potential financial instruments that may be available—to landlords, tenants and the city—to finance improvements and retrofits.

Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects also spoke, mostly about zoning, which he's studied and reported on to the city. Endorsed by the city's planning and management committees, Stewart's report recommends easing the zoning bylaws associated with these slab towers, often in place since they were built, to allow all the same things main streets and commercial strips are allowed, especially easy development of commercial space to allow for the introduction of small businesses, retail and otherwise, that might cater to the communities of as many as 20,000 people.

Speaking specifically about St. Jamestown, but indicating it's the same situation in communities all over the city, including Thorncliffe Park, Rexdale and East Scarborough, Stewart told Yonge Street, "It's had a 40-year history of no commercial activity. It's not going to happen overnight, and it's going to take a lot of effort to get it started, but you can imagine, once you get it started, there will be a lot of demand."

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Rebecca Leshinsky, Graeme Stewart

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Google Canada moves into some new & extraordinary digs

Google Canada's got some new digs.

As of the middle of last month, Google Canada's Toronto office moved from its rather inauspicious space in the Dundas Square Cineplex building to 89,000 square feet on five floors of a stately Peter Dickinson tower on Richmond Street West, just behind the opera house.

There have for years been stories out of Mountain View, California of Google's wonderful HQ with its over-the-top amenities, ad now, it seems, Google Canada's decided it worth following suit.

I took a tour of the place last week with Aaron Brindle, Google Canada's communications manager. It's not quite finished yet— there are still some cartographically themed graphics to go into some stairwells, and one floor is still entirely unoccupied, though it's fully furnished.

But they do have a DJ room. And a jam room, where employees can use the full complement of instruments and gear to play and even record. Also, there's food—lots of it.

"I don't think any employee is ever more than 150 feet away from food," Brindle said. Walking down the hallways you run into jars of candy, freezers of ice cream, the occasional mini-kitchen, all in addition to the main dining room, where meals prepared by Google's chef are served five days a week.

It's almost as if Google wanted people to have something to write about when they opened.

There are also more obviously productive spaces, like the 42 conference, phone or "huddle" rooms sprinkled about the place.

Carpets are made from salvaged fishnets, and the walls are lined with reclaimed wood, all of which was designed and executed by Google in consultation with HOK.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Aaron Brindle

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Waterfront named to list of international 'smart' communities

Toronto has been named to a list of 21 "smart" communities by a Manhattan think tank devoted to social and economic development.

The Intelligent Community Forum, co-founded by Kitchener-Waterloo tech exec John Jung, put Toronto on their list for only the second time since they started the program in 2002. In 2005, the city made the top seven, which is the ICF’s shortlist.

This list of 21 communities is a sort of long list on the way to naming the world's smartest community in June 2013.

The application was made by Waterfront Toronto, under the guidance of Kristina Verner, Waterfront's director of intelligent communities, part of whose job description is to maintain relations with the ICF.

"There were over 400 communities that applied," Verner says, "so it's a great honour to get to this point. It's an opportunity to tell the story and promote the brand that is the waterfront revitalization as well as the city of Toronto."

Verner says the application highlighted the new George Brown campus at the waterfront, TIFF, ORION and the plan to cover the entire waterfront community with free wifi, as well as the city's kids@computers program, which was also a part of the application in 2005.

The top-seven list is announced in January; the winner is named in June.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kristina Verner

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


City launches anti-graffiti, pothole app

Though it was quietly launched in December, traffic is only now picking up for the anti-graffiti and pothole-reporting apps, after the city officially announced it two weeks ago.

"I have a dashboard here," says Neil Evans, director of Toronto 311 and the man in charge of the app initiative, as he looks at his stats on the number of reports received. "On the 22nd [of April], we probably had about 30."

SeeClickFix, one of the open API apps the city is promoting, lets people take pictures of graffiti or potholes, asks them to describe the problem, and then automatically tags the location the picture was taken in using its GIS.

Once the report is sent from a phone, Evans explains, “it comes into our system and depending on what type of service request it is, it either goes directly to the service fulfilling division, or it gets viewed by one of our CSRs. It's only property graffiti ones that get received by our CSRs."

Part of the system involves checking the reported graffiti against a database of city-commissioned or city-approved graffiti, to avoid, as much as possible, city workers "cleaning up" public art.

It's early days, with little data on how effective this system will prove. When I tried it this week, sitting in the Future Bakery on the southwest corner of Bloor and Brunswick, the GIS thought I was at 415 Spadina, just south of College.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Neil Evans

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


King-Spadina residents presented with new kind of development

A week ago, residents in the King-Spadina area got a chance to take a peek at an idiosyncratic new approach to the development of their idiosyncratically zoned neighbourhood.

"We're looking at a couple of blocks that have properties that are landlocked," says ward councillor Adam Vaughan. "They don't constitute development sites in and of themselves, but parcels of land and adjoining developers are proposing a way of building in the interior of a rather large block while protecting heritage buildings on King and on Wellington."

In addition to these developments having no effect on any street-facing buildings, they will also have to contend with rights-of-way that date back to the 1820s. These were put in place to assure property owners' access to fresh water, a real concern in the early 19th century. "It's almost impossible to strip a property of water access," Vaughan says.

As a result, the developments, which won't be much higher than 35 metres, or 10 storeys, are likely to include pedestrian walkways along the old water-access routes. Vaughan compares the idea to the courtyards of Berlin, or a series of apartment buildings in Paris' Marais district that have carriageways cut through  them.

About 40 local residents got an introduction to the basic concepts on Wednesday, as visualized by architects David Pontarini, Les Klein and Core Architects for the Wellington site. A fuller workshop is being held on Dec. 12 to go into more detail. (You can call or email Vaughan’s office for details.)

Writer: Bert Archer
Source; Adam Vaughan

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Mississauga pharmaceutical campus to transform warehouse into 200 new office spaces

As part of a $190-million investment, Roche Canada will be renovating its Mississauga campus to accommodate as many as 200 new employees.

"It's re-purposing the existing facilities," says Roche spokesman Mike Vesik. "We don't have enough room to build up on the property. We're taking a section of our warehouse to accommodate the new positions."

Vesik said renovations, which were to include new infrastructure and amenities such as a cafeteria, were going to begin immediately.

The $190-million, which includes $7.79 million from Ontario's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, will make the Mississauga campus into what Roche is calling a "global site for pharmaceutical development."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mike Vesik

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Purolator's Etobicoke centre to get rooftop solar panels part of 1.14 megawatt project

A company has leased the rooftops of five Ontario Purolator buildings to set up a solar power-generating business.

"We will own and operate, build and finance these projects, and monitor them over the course of the contract," says Sarah Simmons, government affairs manager for Sun Edison Canada.

Two of the five buildings are in Etobicoke.

According to Simmons, her company is currently working through the regulatory process for the deal, which was signed this month, and she expects work to be completed on the buildings within 12 months.

When all five buildings are up and running, Sun Edison, a division of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., which manufactures the solar panels in Newmarket, expects to generate 1.14 megwatts of energy.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Sarah Simmons

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

$30-million, 1.47-hectare Sherbourne Common opens complete with sculptural water treatment plant

The rest of Sherbourne Common opened this past weekend, including its most distinctive feature, the nation's first water feature that's also a water treatment plant.

The first phase of the new park, Sherbourne Common South, with its waterfront lawn and playground, opened last September. With the addition of the 0.5 hectare northern phase, the park rests on 1.47 hectares and cost a total of $30.6 million.

"It's such an innovative park," says Waterfront Toronto's interim manager of project communications Bruce Sudds. "If you get a chance, it's worth seeing at night."

The walkway over the water channel is equipped with motion sensors which alters the way the water sculpture by Jill Anholt, called Light Showers, is lit.

Ontario's Minister of Research and Innovation, Glen Murray, was at the ceremony.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bruce Sudds

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Geothermally powered 16-storey condo breaks ground in Burlington

Ground is officially being broken today, but the drilling has been going on for a couple of weeks already on the GTA's first major geothermally acclimated residential development.

Once finished, Ironstone in Burlington will benefit from 64 holes drilled 500 feet deep where air can be both cooled and heated and re-circulated up through the units.

Graham Chalmers, the vice president of construction at Davies Smith Developments, says he expects the holes, which are the first things being done on the site, will be finished by the end of the month.

"The next thing I do is bring in a shoring company that shores up the walls of the excavation, they used to call them pile drivers," Chalmers says, "and we expect to begin excavating by the 25th of August."

If things go smoothly -- and Chalmers says the drilling has gone better than expected in the relatively easy Burlington bedrock and everything has so far come in on budget -- the 210-unit, 16-storey condo will be ready for its new residents by November of next year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Graham Chalmers

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

Condo database The Red Pin site launches brokerage

One of the city's several consumer condominium databases has made the move into sales.

The Red Pin, which launched in September, 2010, is launching its new brokerage, The Red Pin.com Realty, this week.

"We provide a full package of all the projects across the GTA," says principal Rokham Sadeghnezhadfard, who goes by the name Rokham Fard.

"We rolled it out silently about a month and a half ago, and we've been busy incorporating," Fard says.

The new brokerage is starting with two agents. The firm will receive commission from developers, and The Red Pin is still determining how its agents will be paid.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rokham Sadeghnezhadfard

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story stated that agents would be paid standard commissions.

Official opening of $103-million Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Mike's Hospital

Construction finally finished this month on the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at Shuter and Victoria.

The latest addition to St. Michael's Hospital, the two-building, $103-million facility, comprised of the 270,000 square foot Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, are now connected by a 17-metre helix-shaped glass bridge, constructed in Germany from Italian materials and shipped in one piece to Toronto, where it was installed in October. Glazing of the structural glass was just completed two weeks ago.

"When we started, we didn't submit the bridge for approval," says Matt Smith, project architect for Diamond and Schmitt, "because it was unclear whether the city would permit us to build the bridge, and so it was added as an eleventh hour addition to the project linking the main hospital to the knowledge institute, and as it turns out, its everyone's favourite part of the building.

"St Mikes is sort of a three-legged stool of research, education and chair and the bridge has come to represent that connection."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Matt Smith

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Old U of T admissions office gets $13.6-million upgrade to become Munk School

Construction is slated to start within the next 30 days on the new Munk School of Global Affairs on Bloor Street at Devonshire.

Architecture firm KPMB will be working with builder Govan Brown on the heritage building that started life as the University of Toronto's meteorological centre and served generations of students as the admissions office.

The cost of the whole project is about $13.6 million, according to U of T's chief real estate officer, Nadeem Shabbar.

"There will be some landscaping done as well," he says, and we'll make the building accessible, because currently, it's not. We're going to put an elevator in the back of the building."

Because it's a heritage building, its fašade will remain unchanged.

Shabbar says the target is to complete the project by the summer of 2011.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Nadeem Shabbar

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

43 Research and Innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
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