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Queen/King West : Development News

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Dufferin Bridge is gone

Just before 1:30 on Monday morning, the 101-year-old Dufferin Bridge ceased to be. After alarming inspectors enough with its pendulous concrete to order an immediate closure in June, the bridge over the GO Transit railway line ended up proving a little more stalwart than city workers expected.

"A couple of things surprised us, given the age of the structure," says Michael d'Andrea, the city's executive director for engineering and construction services. "The concrete was much harder, and adhered to the girders far better than we could ever have envisioned, … and the physical connection between these very large steel beams and the girders were in much better shape than expected."

He made clear that this does not mean they tore the thing down when they didn't have to. "We were surprised by how strong the concrete was in some areas, but in other areas, it was pretty weak."

The result was 48 hours of round-the-clock destruction, using 12-hour shifts of 15-20 workers, and another 15-20 engineers, general contractors and GO and Metrolinx advisors. It took two cranes, seven Bobcats, nine jackhappmers and five trucks running continuously to haul away the 1,000 tonnes of concrete, 120 tonnes of asphalt, and 100-150 tonnes of steel. D'Andrea says more than 90 per cent of all that will be recycled.

Within the next week or 10 days, a temporary pedestrian bridge will be erected, and by early 2014 there will be two temporary vehicle bridges joining it, all of which will be replaced by permanent structures by 2016 and should – assuming we’re at least as good at our jobs as our great grandparents -- last till about 2117.

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Michael d’Andrea, Jodie Atkins

Dufferin Bridge closed to pedestrians

The Dufferin Bridge closes to pedestrians today while Metrolinx checks it for potentially dangerous loose concrete.

According to Frank Clarizio, the city's director of capital works delivery for the department of Engineering and Construction Services, the 10-day closure is the result of a recommendation of one of the city's consulting engineers.

The closure to pedeistrians and cyclists comes almost four months after it was precipitously closed to vehicular traffic, and five years after the original report suggesting the century-old bridge was in urgent need of repairs was released in 2008.

The clearing of loose concrete, known as scaling, is Metrolinx's responsibility, as the brdige runs over GO Transit tracks, and any falling chunks would be endangering its trains.

During the closure, pedestrians and cyclists looking to get to the Exhibition grounds can use Atlantic Avenue.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Frank Clarizio

Nathan Phillips refurbishment enters the home stretch

On Monday, the final phase of the revitalization of Nathan Phillips Square will begin.

Construction hoarding will go up Monday morning, behind which for the next 18 months, the rest of the planned improvements for the city’s principle square will be completed. This includes finishing off the relocated Peace Garden, moving Sir Winston to the northwest part of the square, refurbishing the underground parking, and landscaping the southwest portion of the space.

According to the city, this final phase of the work is being completed in two stages to minimize its effect on traffic, food trucks, and the various events to be held in the square over the year.

Work started on overhauling the 45-year-old square in April, 2010, when the old skate pavilion was demolished to kick off the new design by Plant Architect and Shore Tilbe Irwin, which won a Canadian Architect magazine award of excellence in 2007, the year it was executed.

The original design of the square, including City Hall, was itself the result of a competition, held in 1957-58, and won by Finnish architect Viljo Revell.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins

18 months of work begins on the Gardiner

A year and a half of work on the Gardiner Expressway began Monday.

Two eastbound lanes were shut down between Jarvis and the Don Roadway. They’ll remain closed until December.

There will be various road and ramp closures for the duration of the project, which the city expects to have finished by December, 2014.

Work began with the installation of a traffic light, and will continue with the relocation of light poles, and the repair of various aspects of the road, including drainage.

The budget for all the work is $6.99 million.

All this work is being done while the city decides exactly what to do with the road, which many believe is a blight and one of the major factors in hobbling the process of connecting the city to the lake.

But while the lengthy environmental assessment (EA) is done to determine the Gardiner’s fate, the city couldn’t hold off on repairs any longer.

"The repairs of the deck are to keep the Gardiner safe and serviceable until the EA is complete," says Jim Schaffner, the city’s acting manager of structures. "The repairs should cover a seven-year span (2013-2020), during which time the EA should be complete."
 
Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Jim Schaffner

Artscape nears completion of $16-million school renovation

Artscape has a novel way of getting artists into studio spaces.

With its latest project, Young Place, 80 per cent of the 75,000 square feet of disused schoolhouse will be rented, and 20 per cent of it will be sold according to a scheme based on the Options for Homes model.

"The spaces were valued at $430 a square foot by an appraiser, and we provide prospective owners with a 25 per cent down payment interest- and payment-free," says Tim Jones, Artscape’s president and CEO. But unlike Options for Homes, Artscape retains that 25 per cent ownership, so when the original buyer sells, the next buyer will get the same deal.

When it opens in September, Young Place, located at 180 Shaw Street between Dundas and Queen, will be Artscape’s biggest, though at $16 million to renovate that old Givens Shaw Public School, it is only roughly half as expensive as the Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park.

Young Place, named for funder the Michael Young Family Foundation, will open on the old school’s centenary. Getting such an old building into shape to be a modern arts space has been difficult.

"It really is an overhaul of the building," Jones says, "bringing it up to building code, with all its mechanical, electrical and structural issues. It’s an old school, and there’s a reason the school board has such a challenge with all this aging infrastructure."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Tim Jones

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One King West to open hospitality suite after big reno

One King West is about to launch its two-storey hospitality suite, expanding the space the city has for meetings, celebrations, and rich people who want a lot of space.

According to spokeswoman Ashley Calapatia, the 2,500 square feet, which includes the terrace, can accommodate up to 60 guests, and an additional 30 in what she calls its "boardroom configuration."

The meeting space and the suite, which can be used overnight, are on separate floors.

The interiors were designed by Squarefoot Design Inc.

One King West Hotel and Residence, originally conceived and built by developer Harry Stinson, was completed in 2006. It consists of a 51-storey tower built on top of the Dominion Bank Building, which was initially completed in 1914 by famed Toronto architects Darling and Pearson.

No word yet on when the launch will take place, but it should be this month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ashley Calapatia

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Designer Anna Simone shines new light on condo promotion

We’ve had art exhibits and cocktail parties, but you’d think with all the condo competition in the city, we would have seen more creative launches.

Tonight, Great Gulf is taking a step in the right direction when they unveil Lighthaus with a lightshow designed by Anna Simone and Landmark Communications.

"We’ll be projecting images on the actual sales centre façade," says Simone, referring to the small showroom at the corner of Queen and Fenning, one block east of Dovercourt. "I believe we’re working with two cameras, 15,000 lumens, which is pretty exceptional, music alongside, a light show, but it will also be deaing with a sneak preview with what will come with Lighthaus. Its interior, its architecture, who is presenting it."

Simone got the idea from a mapping installation she saw at Quebec City’s bicentennial, and she says she’s been looking for an opportunity--and a partner--that would enable her to reproduce the effect ever since.

According to Simone, whose firm Cecconi Simone has designed the interiors, Lighthaus itself will be a 40-townhouse development, ranging from about $950,000 to $1.4 million, aimed at second-time buyers who have become used to the high standard of interior design in condos.

One notable design element, Simone points out, will be light wells designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster, the designer of Wembley Stadium.

The 3D light show, consisting of a 4-6 minute production on a loop, will take place tonight from 8:30-10:30 p.m., and will be repeated at the same time until Saturday.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Anna Simone

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 [email protected]

Theatre Centre begins work on its permanent home

The formerly peripatetic Theatre Centre is getting a permanent home in an Edwardian library on Queen Street West at Lisgar.

Designed by city architect Robert McCallum in 1909 and funded by Andrew Carnegie, the two-storey brick building's getting a $6.2-million renovation beginning this week that will include a 200-seat performance space, a rehearsal hall and a café, which, in artistic director Franco Boni's opinion, is the most important part.

"The whole idea is that there needs to be a space open to the public," Boni says. "That glass cube at the back, the café, is the most expensive, but I also think it's the most important. Artists will make work, create work and produce work in lots of different kinds of spaces, but the one thing that is so important for a performance space is that we need to create these kinds of meeting places, a third space. We need to be building these spaces and integrating these spaces into our theatres. We can't just be open at seven at night for a show and then cart the audience out. We have to be open all day."

The old building, which has been used as a public health facility in the years since the library closed in 1964, is about 10,000 square feet. After the renovation, which should be finished by next fall, it will be between 13,000 and 14,000 square feet, with the extra space coming mostly from extensions above and to the rear.

The architect is Philip Goldsmith of GBCA, the man behind the Summerhill LCBO.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Franco Boni

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One of city's oldest spaces gets a doggie-style retrofit

Councillor Adam Vaughan says there are so many dogs in the city's condo core, they've ceased to actually be a pet issue. "It's a livestock issue," he says.

As a result, the first work that anyone can remember on downtown's historic Clarence Square—including the folks at ERA Architects who did an exhaustive history of the park going back two centuries—will be heavy on the dog.

ERA's Michael McClelland says the small park on the east side of Spadina at Wellington is one of only a very few planned and designed parks in the city, parks that were originally meant to be parks. In other words, parks that didn't start their lives as mere orphan spaces before ending up as green spaces. "They really need to be treated with a fair amount of care and concern," McClelland says.

As a result, The Planning Partnership, the architectural firm that did the redesign, is staying true to the park's original, simple layout. The only major change is the inclusion of an area set aside specifically for dogs. Vaughan says a recent study revealed that the number of dogs in the neighbourhood had reached seven per floor. According to the Planning Partnership, the soon-to-be-redeveloped Globe and Mail site at Spadina and Front will on its own add 1,000 dogs to the neighbourhood.

"The impact that has on local parks is quite astonishing," Vaughan says.

So, large and small dog runs will be added, during work that begins this month. The hoarding is going up now, and The Planning Partnership's David Leinster believes the work will be largely finished, and the park re-opened, by late fall.

In addition to the canine accommodations, there has already been a traffic light installed on Spadina to facilitate pedestrian movement between Clarence Square and Victoria Square Park west on Wellington.

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Michael McClelland, Adam Vaughan, David Leinster

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 [email protected]


Quadrangle moves in to new office space they designed for themselves

When Quadrangle Architects was commissioned to re-work what partner Brian Curtner calls a traditional office building, they saw some potential in the space, and decided to move in themselves.

Taking lessons learned from doing the interiors of the Corus building on the eastern waterfront—whose exterior and basic structure, by Diamond Schmitt, might also be called traditional (or just basic)—Quadrangle was able to transform the building in general, and its new seventh-floor home there, into what Curtner describes as "funky new offices spaces."

The new space, at 20,000 square feet, is all on one floor. Their current offices at 380 Wellington, which they will be leaving the weekend of August 10, are just 13,000 square feet, spread over two floors. Since Quadrangle has doubled its staff over the past couple of years, to a total of 105, the company certainly needed the extra room. Their current offices are also not accessible, with neither elevators nor accessible toilets.

In addition to their floor, Quadrangle renovated the building's common areas, the exterior, the building's atrium and, in Curtner's words, "fixed up" its elevators.

Curnter and Ted Shore were the partners in charge of the project, which was managed by Caroline Robbie and Rob Dyson.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Brian Curtner

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Cornerstone of new Military Institute to be laid by Governor General

The RCMI is dead. Long live the RCMI.

When the Royal Canadian Military Institute signed the deal with Tribute Communities to have a condo tower built on top of its HQ, the idea was that the original 1912 façade (upgraded from the 1907 version on the same spot) would remain as part of the building's design. The deal also stated that the institute would continue to operate out of the same address they have for the past century, sharing the space with the new tower.

Then came the demolition, and heritage architect ERA's decision that the façade on its own was not in any condition to stand or be incorporated into the new structure.

"It was in extremely poor repair," says Col. Gil Taylor, president of the RCMI, "and to be perfectly honest, we didn't have the money to bring it back to the state it should have been in."

So it came down as well, with a decision to reproduce it. But not only is the façade being reproduced, the RCMI's space and facilities are being greatly expanded, by about 100 per cent in Taylor's estimation, up to 36,000 square feet across six floors (the old structure was a three-storey building).

The RCMI will also own those six floors. "We aren't part of the condo corporation," Taylor says. "We do have some mutual areas, part of the lobby for example, and part of the exterior. There'll be some shared maintenance cost, but as far as the institute is concerned, it'll be freehold."

The Governor General will lay the cornerstone for the RCMI on Saturday at 4pm, following in the footsteps of predecessors Earl Grey, who laid the first cornerstone in 1907, and the Duke of Connaught, who laid the cornerstone for the fully renovated building in 1912.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gil Taylor

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New midrise 32 Camden by Sorbara Group celebrates its topping off

A new midrise is rising at Queen and Spadina.

The 12-storey condo by the Sorbara Group had its topping off ceremony last week. With occupancy slated for summer 2013, the building is starting to take shape.

The garage will include four shared bicycles and one vehicle for car-sharing.

Designed by Core Architects, the 87-unit building is extending the King Street, Freed ethos north. The white framed structure, vaguely reminiscent of 1960s public architecture, adds high-end design with mid-level prices ($240,000-$850,000) to the increasingly popular neighbourhood.

Writer: Bert Archer

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 [email protected]


OCAD Sustainable Design Awards short list announced

The short list has been settled and the winners of the first Sustainable Design Awards open to all OCAD students will be announced tomorrow.

The awards are the brainchild of Mike Lovas, 31, a mature student with an engineering background who entered the industrial design program at OCAD last year and almost immediately realized very little was being said in his classes about sustainable design.

Lovas says, in fact, that he was "shocked at how little sustainable issues were being brought up, considering industrial design is all about mass production, pumping out lots of stuff. There wasn't a whole lot of talk at that point about the implications and impact of mass production would be on society, the environment, and people."

One of the reasons, he realized after he started talking to friends and professors about his idea for a prize, was that sustainability in this context is hard to define. The college was quick to get on board with the prize, which was offered last year but only to industrial design students.

In order to take the difficulty of definition into account, the guidelines are purposely vague, written in the form of a series of questions about material and systems. "Design" itself is open to interpretation, and the five-member jury, headed by New York editor and School of Visual Arts teacher Alan Chochinov, was open to pretty much anything.

The shortlist includes a design for a dish rack that diverts its run-off to water herbs, a plan for an "ecoburb" and another to turn the city's lane ways into green spaces.

There will be prizes for first, second and third, as well as a student choice award, with first prize being $1,000. There were 51 entries.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Mike Lovas

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 [email protected]


Two new Streetcar developments work both ends of the city

Mid-rise development has taken a backseat to Toronto's towers for the past decade, but thanks to developers like Streetcar, they may be the next big phase of the city's intensification.

The developer, known for buildings in Corktown, has just launched two new projects bookending the downtown core. The Carlaw, at Carlaw and Dundas, will be a 12-storey condo by TACT Architecture, built in conjunction with Dundee Realty. The plan is for 320 lofts, as well as several townhouses.

The other is The Carnaby, the third phase of a development at Queen and Gladstone that also includes mid-rises at 2 and 8 Gladstone Avenue.

Built in a laneway between the two Gladstone properties, the Carnaby will nudge the limits of the definition of mid-rise, with 20 storeys and 200 loft-style units.

The Carnaby has also been designed by TACT, with interiors by Seven Haus Design.

Both proposed buildings stick to the developer's strategy of keeping their properties on streetcar lines.

Writer: Bert Archer

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 [email protected]


Renovations begin on old CIBC building at 197 Yonge

It's been vacant for 25 years, but things are finally stirring inside the venerable old Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 197 Yonge Street.

Bought by Montreal's Parasuco jean company about a decade ago, the building's been through any number of attempted re-uses, but everything's fallen through, until now.

Work has finally begun on renovating the interior of the neoclassical, Darling and Pearson-designed bank building, which will within six weeks be serving as a showroom for the Hariri Pontarini-designed condos slated to be built on top of it.

The tower, which is still being considered by the city, would be 60 storeys with 689 units.

According to restoring architect Michael McClelland of ERA, the fact that the building is finally moving ahead is a reflection of the changing face of the downtown core.

"Developments are quite large and this has been regarded as quite a small site," he says. "It's been very difficult to figure out how to make this site work. There's all kinds of complex easements for the Elgin Winter Garden theatre and Massey Hall.  You have to be very patient landowners to make this happen."

And until recently, it's not really been worth it. But now, with the city's large plots mostly spoken for, the smaller ones are looking better and better.

The vacant lot on the north side of the site will, as a result of a stipulation in the sales agreement, become a Parasuco Jeans shop, that will include some form of commemoration for the old Colonial Tavern that once stood there.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Michael McClelland

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 [email protected]

89 Queen/King West Articles | Page: | Show All
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