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Scarborough campus of U of T gets new $78-million, 165,000 square foot academic block

The Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto will be getting a new academic block as a result of $70 million in federal stimulus funding.

Built on a former parking lot at the east end campus, the new building will include large rooms for the bigger lectures and exam writing. The Scarborough campus pitched in an extra $8 million of its own money to add academic and administrative offices to the teaching spaces.

According to the university's chief real estate officer Nadeem Shabbar, the parking has already been replaced at an aboveground site nearby.

Since no money was raised for the project, the 165,000 square foot building will simply be called the Scarborough Instructional Centre. It's slated for completion by March 31, 2011, the deadline set by the federal stimulus package.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Nadeem Shabbar

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$460-million Women's College Hospital design influenced by intense research among women

When the model of the final plans for the new Women's College Hospital were unveiled at the end of September, the press release was headed "One thousand women. One thousand voices. One hospital reinvented to meet their needs."

And according to hospital president and CEO Marilyn Emery, those 1,000 women interviewed online, by phone and in focus groups, had a profound effect on what the new hospital is going to look like, and how it's going to operate.

As a result of their two years of research, the hospital decided that privacy, safety, flexible family eating areas with diverse food options, open spaces with curved walls and staircases, and accessibility are all big priorities.

"Safety and privacy for some women means there's an opportunity to use a washroom that's a single-unit washroom instead of communal," Emery says, "especially for trans women, and it's considered a safety issue for many trans women."

But it was the discussions of accessibility, which Emery figured after 30 years in the healthcare industry she knew all about, that surprised her most.

"One thing that I learned from listening to women with disabilities was from a woman who herself was very, very large -- she required a mobility device," Emery says. "She said that through her entire adult life, she has never been able to undergo a physical examination in a room with the door shut because either the room wasn't large enough, or you couldn't shut the door with all of what was needed in the room. On the one hand, I couldn't believe my ears, but on the other hand, all I had to do was look at this woman to say, absolutely. We don't routinely build space that accommodates that kind of disability. It's a lot more than wheelchair access via a ramp in and out of a building."

The research encompassed a massive variety of communities and perspectives, including seniors, lesbian and queer women, lesbian and queer youth, transgendered women, women with addictions, abused women, women with disabilities, women living with HIV/AIDS, street workers, women with mental health issues, low-income women, recent immigrants, Tamil women, Bengali women, Caribbean women and Mandarin-speaking women.

The $460-million project is expected to open in 2016.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Marilyn Emery

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 [email protected]

New condo uses social media to experiment with "virtual brokers" by offering $2,500 commissions

An Esplanade condo development is trying to incorporate social networks to help sell units, and is offering as much as $2,500 in commissions to what they're calling their "virtual brokers."

"Most presales have really targeted the broker community, "says Robert Galletta, managing partner of BlackJet Inc., the ad firm that's orchestrating the campaign, based on a previous contest to name the building. "But what condo developers look for is a database of interested leads, which is what helps them read their sales effectiveness. That's always been the measure of success."

Anyone who provides the sales team a lead that turns into a sale will get $2,500, and their buyer will get $2,500 in upgrades. There are also movie passes for anyone who provides 10 registrants, iTunes gift cards for 25 registrants, and an iPad for 100.

"Beyond Cityzen," Galletta says, "this is something that may transition that traditional marketing model into something more effective."

The planned 36-storey tower, called Backstage, is being built by Cityzen, Fernbrook Homes and Castlepoint at 5-7 The Esplanade.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Robert Galletta

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 [email protected]

Homebuilder begins construction on two homes in Richmond Hill to study environmental efficiency

One longtime Toronto homebuilder is embarking on a novel project to both exhibit and determine the efficacy of Energy Star and the new Energy Star Plus enviro guidelines.

Sheppard and 404-based Heathwood Homes is building two homes in neighbouring Heathwood communities in Richmond Hill, one to each set of standards. The Energy Star Plus home will be used as a model home until 2012, at which point it will be sold, and the efficiency of both homes, when occupied, will be monitored by Heathwood to determine what works and how well.

"Sometimes we don't know exactly what's happening in a home," says Heathwood president Hugh Heron, "because it's a living environment. This will give us an opportunity to feel like we're on solid footing when we go forward."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Hugh Heron

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 [email protected]

Toronto Hydro launches public site to track city works

Toronto Hydro has launched a site that allows anyone to keep track of the work the utility is doing around the city. Searchable by ward, powerUptoronto.ca is a response to customer research that indicated people would like to be kept abreast of work around the city and in their neighbourhoods in particular.

"They wanted to know about timing of the projects, when it would start ,when it would finish," says Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Denise Atallah. "They were also interested in knowing things like if the timing changed on the project, if there was going to be a delay, and they were also interested in knowing is it going to impact my driveway, am I going to be able to drive down my street, when will my lights be out."

The site allows users to brose a project map and search for current projects, future projects or all projects, across the city or ward by ward. It also gives a list of all projects, project updates and major initiatives, as well as a glossary of commonly used but poorly understood terms relating to Toronto Hydro's work.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Denise Atallah

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

ING Direct turns 3-storey Yonge Street building into branding exercise and, ultimately, a cafe

The old Pier 1 shop at the corner of Yonge and Shuter got an odd new look two weeks ago, wrapped in signs advertising local businesses and entrepreneurs and directing passers-by to a Twitter identity, #whatisvalue, and a website of the same name. Unless you're especially colour sensitive you might not notice, without paying closer attention, that the orange belongs to the worldwide branding campaign of branch-less bank, ING Direct.

"In keeping with our brand and what we stand for, we like to do things differently," says Peter Aceto, president and CEO of ING Direct Canada. "We're part of a community, and we wanted our first interaction with our community to be just that."

ING, which has rented the entire three-storey building on a long-term lease, intends to open a Save Your Money Cafe there towards the end of this year. But unlike similar cafes in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, the Yonge and Shuter location will, in addition to coffee and tea served with a side of financial services tutorials, boast a second floor offering free office space for local entrepreneurs. The third floor will house a mini call centre, bringing several new jobs to the area.

The building will also feature free WiFi.

Designs for the approximately 10,000 square foot space are still being worked out, but ING decided to use the prominent frontage to further its aims while those details were being worked out, turning an otherwise vacant storefront into a potentially hub for corporate-client communications.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Peter Aceto

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Housing website releases list of 10 condo projects with the most buzz, 15 Beverley leads

The real estate website BuzzBuzzHome released its latest monthly list of the 10 Toronto condo developments that have been getting the most hits from its 40,000 monthly visitors.

Released on Monday, the list is topped by 12 Degrees, a new development by the BSäR Group slated for 15 Beverley at Queen that has yet to launch.

"There's been a tonne of interest," says one of the site's owners, Matthew Slutsky, "so they're going to get a fair bit of interest when they do launch."

Though he's not willing to draw too many conclusions about the city's condo market from the lists, he does say it seems mostly to be driven by newness and location. Effective marketing also seems to play a role, as evidenced by the fact that on one of their first lists this past January, the Trump Tower, by then already a 4-year-old project, made the list. "They had just launched a social media campaign," Slutsky says.

Pears on Avenue was second on the list, followed by Art Condominiums.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Matthew Slutsky

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Recent restoration of the Gerstein Reading Room at U of T gets Ontario Architectural Award

The Gerstein Reading Room at the University of Toronto has won a design excellence award from the Ontario Association of Architects, the university announced this week.

The firm of Diamond + Schmitt were praised for both renovation and renewal, with particular mention being made of an old boarded-up attic, which they discovered, uncovered and recovered, exposing the previously hidden neo-Gothic woodwork, dating from the building's original 1892 construction.

The facility's director, Sandra Langlands, is especially partial to the old periodical reading room, which the architects also restored, complete with (non-functioning) fireplace and original glazed tiles. "It's been made into a really nice group study room," she says.

The reading room is housed in what was once known as the Sigmund Samuel Library (or Sig Sam for short), and though that's what the building is still officially called, the work done since the Bertrand Gerstein Family Foundation and the Frank Gerstein Charitable Foundation made sizable donations in the 1990s has resulted in the whole structure now being colloquially known as the Gerstein.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Sandra Langlands

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to [email protected]

Celebrity chef's newest opening next week at King and Church

After a greater than average degree of secrecy and a not unrelated greater than average degree of anticipation, Origin, chef Claudio Aprile's latest restaurant, will open next week, according to Paul Oberman, president and CEO of Woodcliffe Corporation, which has been in charge of the restoration of the 105 and 107 King East location at the southeast corner of Church.

The easternmost of the two is one of the oldest buildings in the city, built between 1836 and 1841. Both 107 and 109 were the site of one of early Toronto's great unsolved murder mysteries, when a dead man was found slumped against the back wall in the laneway. In the 1960s, the upper floors of 107 were known as The Pit and were where Toronto artist Tom Hodgson, known for his wild parties, kept his studio.

"The space has been designed uniquely for him," Oberman says. "It's not a conventional design. He's been very personally involved in every aspect of it. It's been fun."

The  year-long restoration, which Oberman describes as a combination of restoration and adaptive reuse, included putting in full basements for the two buildings and opening up the walls inside to bring the two spaces together. "We're just scrambling now to complete the terrace, now that the weather is upon us," he says of the wraparound patio space for the corner lot.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Paul Oberman

Fast growing Indian food delivery chain Amaya expands into downtown with $70,000 renovation

A new Indian restaurant focusing on takeout and delivery is opening this week at 21 Davenport, taking over the space previously occupied by the Ho Lee Chow Chinese food delivery business.

This is the fourth Amaya Express to open in two years. Owned by Hemant Bhagwani, the former sommelier for the CN Tower's 360 restaurant, and Derek Valleau. Amaya is looking to take advantage of the downturn by taking over spaces vacated by failed restaurants.

"You used to have to spend three or four times more money converting a place," says Bhagwani, "but when it used to be a restaurant, it's much less expensive."

Bhagwani says the renovation of the old Ho Lee Chow is costing him about $70,000.

Slightly upscale, with a $30 minimum order and a $3 delivery charge, Amaya Express seems to have tapped an under-served market. In addition to rapid expansion (another location is due to open at Queen and Leslie at the beginning of March, and Bhagwani is negotiating for another space on Queens Quay), Amaya has developed a line of sauces, which customers can currently order with their meals, and which Bhagwani hopes will soon be available in GTA grocery stores.


Writer: Bert Archer

Source: Hemant Bhagwani

Thirty novel condos to occupy space of Canada's most expensive house

Once the site of Canada's most expensive house, on the market in 2006 for $45 million, the 11 acres known as Edgemere on Oakville's Gold Coast will soon be home to 30 families.

The nation's formerly most expensive home will be demolished.

Once they got the municipal go-ahead in November, Niche Development began work on a plan with Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance and builder Joe Brennan to build 10 buildings, each with three condominiums, that are on the market now for between $2,595,000 and a little more than $6 million.

Unlike other similar large-property developments, Hewitt and Clewes decided not to subdivide the property, first put together into an estate by James Ryrie, a Toronto jeweller whose business merged with Birks in the first decade of the last century.

"We were trying to preserve the memory of the estate," says Clewes. "There's a green house, a  gardener's house, a dry shed, for instance, and also the landscape, there's a spectacular landscape, a 100-year-old landscape with hundreds of trees."

But it's the buildings themselves, novel hybrids of condos, townhouses and single-family homes, that are the main attraction.

"The architecture is not like anything we've ever done," says Clewes, whose other projects include York University's Pond Road residences, the first green student housing in the country. "It's a contemporary re-interpretation of the arts and crafts, shingle-style that's in evidence in a lot of turn-of-the-century buildings in Oakville, with steeply pitched roofs, overhangs, stone. But it also has a contemporary feeling with an extraordinary number of windows."


Writer: Bert Archer

Source: Peter Clewes


Designers reimagine urban density with 8 new units in the South Annex

Cecconi Simone, also known as Oni One, are designers known for clean lines, good textures and interesting materials. They are the last people you'd think would have a new approach to one of Toronto's most abiding and destructive difficulties: sprawl. No matter what you may have heard in Alberta or New Brunswick, Toronto is actually not dense enough. Fly into or out of the city and you'll see what I mean.

The recent spate of condo erections has done a lot to improve the situation, but stroll down any street in Riverdale, the Annex or the Junction and you'll see single family dwellings on 20 x 100 foot lots (or thereabouts). That's a lot of space for a very few people.

When Elaine Cecconi and Anna Simone decided they wanted to branch out into architecture and building, they had capital, but not developer-level capital, so they thought small. With a couple of partners they bought a lot on Lippincott in what's commonly known as the South Annex (but is on the city books as "University"). The former site of the Chicago 58 salami factory, it is slightly larger than a double lot, but not out of line with its mostly semi-detached neighbours. Instead of building a house, or a couple of townhouses, they turned things on their side and built 8 houses with architect Brad Netkin, facing south on a north-south street, quadrupling the utility of the space.

Following in the footsteps of architect Alan Littlewood's project at Queen and Givens, six of the eight infill houses on Lippincott, with their open concept back-to-front spaces have already sold in the $800,000 range. Each has front patio barbeques and glass ground-floor front walls that slide entirely open in good weather.

Though the lot is bigger than most, the design is perfectly suited to replace run-down single family dwellings with similar sophisticated densities, offering greater access to desirable neighbourhoods and potentially higher profit margins for investors and developers. And as the desire for laneway housing increases, variations on Ceccone Simone's solution may be one of the things that keeps Toronto's downtown neighbourhoods vibrant through their next several decades of growth.

Writer: Bert Archer

Sake guru brings Korean tapas to Yorkville

Sang Kim, one of the forces behind Blowfish and the consultant behind Ki's aggressive training of its staff in the fine art of explaining sake to a still mostly innocent clientele, is bringing a Korean tapas restaurant to Yorkville.

KOKO! Share Bar, on the site of the old walk-down Sushi Bada at 81 Yorkville (below Dolce), will have a staff of 12 in two shifts and feature bossam, which is Korean for wrap. Dishes will feature loose leaf lettuce with steamed rice, and things like roasted pork belly and Korean barbequed meats served, on one side of the restaurant, at two long communal tables (the other side is reserved for the more reserved, with more usual two-seater table options). Following the long tradition of Korean and Japanese culinary hook-ups, KOKO! will also serve tamaki, which is the Japanese version of bossam, with seasoned seaweed instead of lettuce, sushi rice, raw fish and tempura.

A fan of Korean cuisine, but not of Toronto's two "Little Koreas" (on Bloor west of Bathurst and on Yonge north of Sheppard). "They beat up on each other by slashing prices," says Kim, who estimates his lunches for two will be under $40, and dinners about $100,  "and they do Japanese food very poorly. I like not having to compete with pork bone soup pricing."

Demolition started on Jan. 9, with a goal of an early February soft opening and a launch on Feb. 14, in honour of Valentine's Day, as well as Chinese and Korean New Year.

Writer: Bert Archer

43 research and innovation Articles | Page: | Show All
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