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Canada Square park officially opens Canada Day

Where there was once a big, ugly parking lot, in the space between Queens Quay Terminal and York Quay is now, finally, officially, a park.

Canada Square, a major addition to the central waterfront, opens officially on Canada Day.

"In the spirit of European plazas," says James Roche, Waterfront Toronto’s director in charge of park design and construction, "Canada Square offers a new place for people to gather and enjoy beautifully framed views of Lake Ontario and Toronto's skyline under a canopy of majestic redwood trees."

The park is on top of what is now an underground parking garage, constructed by Ellis Don after designs by Beyer Blinder Belle architects. The park’s landscaping design is by US firm Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates.

Canada Square is part of the larger York Quay revitalization project, which also includes Ontario Square and Exhibition Common.

The budget for the whole project was $20 million.

Roche points out that this is only the second time Harbourfront Centre and Waterfront Toronto have worked together on such a project. "In 2006," he says, "public access to the water's edge was improved by widening the promenade south of Harbourfront Centre and the addition of a wooden boardwalk and two new finger piers."

The opening ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. on July 1.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: James Roche

U of T releases new design for architecture school at One Spadina Crescent

It turns out, One Spadina Crescent, the big 19th-century building Spadina curves around just north of College, was never completed.

The University of Toronto School of Architecture is going to change that.

The school's Dean, Richard Sommer, announced this morning that U.S. architect Nader Tehrani has designed an addition to the north side of the building, which will be built in conjunction with thoroughgoing renovations to prepare the building to be the new premises for the expanding architecture school, the country’s oldest.

"It's one of those early buildings in the history of the city, like Upper Canada College or the provincial legislature, that was a kind of a frontal building, positioned to face the lake," Sommer says.

"It was a U-shaped building, what we call in architecture single-loaded. The north end of the site was never developed, and over time it just got filled in with stuff. Before it was even [the] Knox Theological Seminary and later college, it was built as a prospect for wealthy landowners. That was the original function of that circle. Then the seminary took over and had a building facing south."

Sommer says there have been a number of additions added haphazardly to the north of the building over the years, which will be demolished.

"The project is part of making design and city-building front-and-centre for the city of Toronto," he says.

John Daniels, of developer the Daniels Corporation, and his wife Myrna have given another $10 million towards the project, in addition to the $14 million the couple gave in 2008 that triggered the renaming of the architecture school in his name.

Daniels graduated from the school of architecture in 1950.

"I would compare the Daniels benefaction to what Alfred Taubman gave to the University of Michigan more than a decade ago, and which completely transformed its prospects," Sommer says.

Some excavation of hazardous materials has already been done, and Sommer hopes that if the rest of the fundraising goes well, the entire project will be completed within three years.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Richard Sommer

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.

South Rosedale gets its own gateposts

South Rosedale is a little more of its own neighbourhood now thanks to a gift from longtime resident Ray Cowling.

Though many outside of the Rosedale area think of it as all of a piece, residents of South Rosedale, the area than runs from Yonge to the Bayview extension, north Sherbourne to Roxborough Drive, have long thought of themselves as distinct from the rest of Rosedale and Moore park to the north. And now, on Crescent Road just east of the bridge that runs over the subway tracks at Rosedale station, there are gateposts to mark the entry to the neighbourhood.

"It's been a wish of his to leave a legacy for the local neighbourhood that he cherishes so much," says Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, "and I know there have been plans for some sort of iconic gateway marker for some time."

The pre-cast column markers were designed by fellow South Rosedale resident Joe Brennan, and was executed by the South Rosedale Residents' Association.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Kristyn Wong-Tam

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.

Lower Yonge Precinct to avoid 'wall of condos'

Waterfront convened the first of several public planning and design meetings to let local residents and the general public in on what's in store for the area surrounding the foot of Yonge Street.

"The concept of the first meeting was to introduce people to the concept that we are doing an area plan for the area we are calling the Lower Yonge Precinct, which stretches from Yonge to Jarvis, and the Gardiner Expressway to Queens Quay," says Waterfront Toronto’s vice president of planning and design Christopher Glaisek.

"One Yonge is a public proposal so it's gotten some attention," Glaisek says, "but there’s also the LCBO lands with the warehouse and store, but it's mostly a big parking lot and that’s also a potential development site and it's actually bigger than the One Yonge site. Then there's a Loblaws site, which while they have no plans to develop it in the near term, will one day become a development site."

After discussing the extent of the area, which covers nine hectares, the convenors listened to public input on the subject of future development, which they will incorporate into two studies, Lower Yonge Precinct Area: Urban Design Guidelines and a transportation master plan environmental assessment

Glaisek was able to reveal one design principle immediately, however. "We’re trying not to build a wall of condos on the waterfront," he says.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Christopher Glaisek

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.

Diamond and Schmitt architects take home three OAA Awards

Diamond and Schmitt--the architecture firm behind such diverse buildings as Toronto's Four Seasons Centre, the New Marinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Montreal’s La Maison Symphonique and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs--has won three awards from the Ontario Association of Architects.

"They just did a lot of great work this year," says OAA president Bill Birdsell of the firm, which won more OAA Awards than any other this year.

They firm took home design awards for the Centre for Green Cities at the Evergreen Brickworks and the Ryerson Image Centre, and Jack Diamond was recognized for his lifetime's achievement.

"The Evergreen Brickworks is just an amazing re-use," Birdsell says. “It hits all the good things: good design, good business, it’s sustainable, it’s very clear. It’s a legacy building, it celebrates the past. It just hits the things the profession is trying to highlight."

Both Evergreen Brickworks and the Ryerson Image Centre, he says, also have "the ability to invite and engage the public."

The OAA awards are decided by juries made up mostly of community members, though they include architects.

Though there were awards given out to residential projects this year, it may be read as significant to some that, unlike past years, no condominium tower was recognized.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bill Birdsell

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.

Ontario Architects Association awards prizes to two standout Toronto projects

The Ontario Architects Association has announced its prize winners for the year, with two GTA projects standouts among them.

"I really liked the Cedarvale Ravine House,” says OAA president Bill Birdsell of the Drew Mandel Architects-designed infill house. The house sits along Toronto's Cedarvale ravine and features floor to ceiling windows, allowing ample light to flow through its open concept design. "It works very closely with its context and the urban forestry, and it maintains sustainability for that site. That, and the really striking cantilever really stands out for me."

The other project, among eight GTA winners, that Birdsell wanted to call attention to was MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects’ Regent Park Aquatic Centre, which opened along Dundas East late last year and features a pool, large windows and wood accents viewable by street. "I just love that," he said. "Again it comes back to sustainability. It was created on a very tight budget, which I appreciate, and I like the way it brings light down into the pool area."

Birdsell says the winners are chosen each year for the clarity of their architectural language. "If the jury can really understand them," he says, "and the project gets its message across, that’s how they win."

The awards will be presented in May at the OAA annual conference.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bill Birdsell

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.

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

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.


Toronto Urban Design Awards opens nominations

Nominations are now open for the Toronto Urban Design Awards.

The biannual event celebrates and rewards urban design and, as the program’s manager Alka Lukatela makes clear, urban design is quite different from architecture or what’s usually referred to simply as "design." The event culminates in a gala that is set to be held this year on September 11.

"If you go to any of the architectural programs, provincial or the national one, the focus is on the quality of the design of the individual piece," she says. "When we are talking about our program, it is really the relationships and the context, everything that happens in the public realm around the project and innovative ways of dealing with specifications, or creating small open spaces, dealing with the landscape end of things."

With an eye to these criteria, the biannual juries always include an architect, a landscape architect, an out-of-province authority, and what Lukatela calls "an interesting member of the public or the press." This year’s jury is made up of Marianne McKenna, Cecelia Paine, Jeremy Sturgess, Eric Turcotte and Matthew Blackett. They will be adjudicating entries in categories that include "buildings in context" both private and public, small open spaces, "large places and neighbourhood designs," "visions and master plans" and student projects.

There will be an exhibit of all entries at City Hall from Sept. 9-13 after the May 16 entry deadline. Winners will be exhibited at City Hall and tour the city’s civic centres during September and October.

The budget for the project is $60,000, $30,000 of which is spent on the gala.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Alka Lukatela

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.


New Will Alsop condo may be coming to Yonge and Lawrence

"The brief was to put some apartments on that corner."

I got hold of of the jocular architect Will Alsop in his London office to ask about the midrise he designed for independent developer and former architect Bianca Pollak, to be built on Strathgowan Avenue, just south of Yonge and Lawrence. I’d asked him what instructions he got from his client that resulted in what, if built, will be the most delightful condo in town.

With the bottom six floors enveloped in a stainless steel mesh, and the top four a tabletop, Alaska, as it would be known, is the sort of building we’re more accustomed to seeing in Berlin, Shanghai, or even Abu Dhabi. But here in Toronto, we tend more towards the rectilinear.

Alsop, who also designed the Sharpe Centre for Design at OCAD, is the bon vivant to Gehry’s mad professor and Nouvel’s fantasist. His designs tend to evince a beauty filtered through a sense of humour.

But he’s also interested in how his buildings work where they sit, and for Alsop, this stretch of Yonge Street, including this corner, which currently houses a nursery, a sporting goods store and the building that Pollak’s design shop now occupies, doesn’t  yet know its worth.

"Apart from Ms. Pollak’s existing building, which is rubbish, what is it about this part of the street that’s wrong and could be better? The answer is there’s quite a lot wrong. It’s the scale: It needs to be brought up to celebrate Yonge Street, one of the most important streets in Canada. It’s tough to do with one site," he says, "but we can make a start."

The appropriate applications for the building, whose address would be on Strathgowan Avenue, are with the city now. Word on when Yonge and Stragowan may get some of Alsop's apartments is expected sometime in the next 18 months.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Will Alsop

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.

Church of Scientology to up its stake on Yonge Street

The Church of Scientology looks like it’s going to increase its Toronto presence.

The longtime occupants of the storefront at 696 Yonge have just moved to temporary digs in an old brick building at 77 Peter Street (former home of Time and Studio 77 night clubs) in order to renovate the Bauhaus-inspired modernist Yonge building at the corner of St. Mary.

According to Melissa Wong, who handled development in Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam’s office, there has been no rezoning application, though sketches floating around the Internet show a radically different facade for the building, including red detail and a large cross on the Yonge side of the eight-storey building.

Update (Jan. 17, 2012):

According to the city's planning department, an application for a building permit for the site was received on Jan. 15, but until approved, which the city estimates will take about two weeks, its contents remain private.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Melissa Wong

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.


Ryerson students develop plans for public amenities near subway stations

Ryerson's Department of Architectural Science has set its students the task of coming up with novel ideas about how to get more utility and "civility" out of our city's public spaces.

As part of a course led by Associate Professor George Kapelos, students across the faculty have been put into teams to come up with useful public amenities for 16 subway-proximate spaces around the city, from Berczy Park near King station to a 629 square metre city-owned lot near Lawrence station.

Each design must include 15 elements such as a WiFi hotspot, a weather information post, protected seating and phone charging stations, along with at least five others chosen from a list of 22 options, incuding hot water dispensers, food warming stations and donation collection boxes.

The project is in line with the city's officially expressed desire to do likewise. As Kapelos says in the assignment brief he issued his students, "The City of Toronto is seeking to introduce public facilities on city-owned properties or public spaces adjacent to major transportation interchanges that provide civic amenities to the population of the city." The city has just installed the second of a proposed 20 public toilets as part of its initiative.

Interim results will be on display this afternoon (Jan 9)  between 2 and 4 p.m., and again on Friday after 6 p.m.  The final designs will be on display in the form of posters starting at 6 p.m. on Friday at the school's atrium at 325 Church Street.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Prachi Khandekar

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.


Demolition begins to clear way for seven-story Dundas West mid-rise

After a slight delay due to softer-than-anticipated soil, demolition began this week for the city’s latest mid-rise.

Abacus, the Richard Witt-designed seven-storey brick and glass condo on Dundas just west of Ossington, will have 39 units starting at $289,000 to more than $800,000, of which a couple are still available. 

The developer, Antonio Azevedo of DAZ Developments, grew up in the neighbourhood and is looking forward to contributing to its latter-day re-densification. “It really helps develop a sense of community,” he says of the burgeoning Dundas West commercial strip he’s hoping to help along. The condo is the only mid-rise building in the area.

Azevedo figures digging will begin in February, and that the building will be ready for residents by the fall of 2014.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Antonio Azevedo

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.


Construct Canada learns how to build urban nodes

Yonge and Sheppard is good, King Street West is bad, and Peanut Plaza is worse.

That's the conclusion reached by a panel of experts who spoke recently at Construct Canada, the annual convention and trade show for builders, designers and others in the construction trades.

The talk was on urban nodes, and the talk focused on what can go right, what can go wrong and what the most valuable qualities are in the planning, construction and maintenance of urban nodes, those little slices of urbanity that together make up the modern agglomerated city.

The panel consisted of Clifford Korman and David Butterworth, both of Kirkor Architects, and Ward 33's Councillor Shelley Carroll. It was moderated by yours truly in my capacity as Yonge Street Media's development editor.

Integration of live and work space was of paramount importance to Korman, whose firm is behind several of the city's biggest new live-work developments, including the Hullmark Centre and the World on Yonge. He also stressed the importance of easy and reliable access to transportation. Carroll offered this as a major reason the King West strip does not work as well as it should, with its oversubscribed streetcars making rush-hour commutes difficult. Butterworth added that the quality of architecture along King West was disappointing, noting that good looking and architecturally well functioning neighbourhoods tends to be happier and more vibrant ones.

The area around Peanut Plaza, a 1960s slab development in the heart of Carroll's ward, was declared a right-off by Korman and Carroll due to the separation of towers from the local amenities by the Don Mills Road thoroughfare, though Butterworth praised the simplicity and durability of the slab construction. Carroll agreed that she has found it much less expensive to renovate and retrofit the towers.

Everyone agreed that the developing node at Yonge and Sheppard is a model for the future, with its access to two subway lines, major thoroughfares and a highway. And Kirkor's own Hullmark Centre, currently under development there, incorporates a large park in the form of a green roof, condos and office space in the same complex, as well as a large grocery store. Carroll noted that when she drives through the neighbourhood these days, she notices masses of pedestrians that weren’t there five years ago, a sure sign of a successful node.

Writer: Bert Archer
Sources: Shelley Carroll, Clifford Korman, David Butterworth

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.

259 design Articles | Page: | Show All
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