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City to spend $215M on road work this summer

Tired of construction yet? The city has announced it will spend $215-million on road work this summer, including major projects expected on the Gardiner Expressway and other major routes, 680 News reports.
At a news conference on Monday, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, is reported as saying more than 185 kilometres of road will be resurfaced. As per the artcle in Metro, these include:

  • Markham Road from Kingston Road to Lawrence Road
  • Victoria Park Avenue from Eglinton Avenue to Lawrence Avenue
  • Wilson Avenue from Bathurst Street to Dufferin Street
  • Finch Avenue from Kipling Avenue to Highway 27
  • Kipling Avenue from Bloor Street to Dixon Road
Even with this construction, not all roads will be repaired this summer.
"If the backlog is somewhere around $300 million and it costs $1 million a kilometre to resurface a road, that’s 300 kilometres of road that we aren’t getting to this year," says Councillor Minnan-Wong in the article.
Work on the Gardiner will begin in three weeks, closing the weeking of April 26 for its annual spring maintenance. “After that, three reconstruction projects begin on the western portion of the Gardiner which will cause lane closures between the Humber River and Bathurst Street throughout the summer. Some of that work won’t end until December 2016,” the article reports.
"We don’t have a choice of the Gardiner Expressway. It has to be fixed," Minnan-Wong is quoted as saying in the article.
Some projects have been moved ahead to prepare for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
To read the full article and for an interactive map of the planned road work, click here
Original source: 680 News

Toronto is booming, UK reports

"Toronto is booming, as evidenced by its chic restaurants, innovative architecture and an epic construction project that will soon see one end of the harbour lined with new museums, bars and parkland," wrote the UK-based Sunday Express earlier this week. 
The article, entitled Kayaking, abseiling and exploring castles: Going on an adventure in Toronto, focuses on the attraction of our waterfront, an increasingly popular feature in international reports and travel articles. The author of the article clearly came here in the summer as he documents his experiences kayaking around and exploring our islands and major attractions, but his writing suggests a changing perspective on our city as a whole. 
The author found himself on "quiet, residential boulevards with immaculate flowerbeds, red-brick townhouses, vintage clothes stores and tiny street stalls selling homemade maple syrup and artisan breads." These traits, often ignored in favour of typical tourist attractions such as the CN Tower, recognize that Toronto is a city rich in history and community, one that has a lot more to offer someone from out of town than Front Street.
Of course, it would be impossible for someone to report on Toronto without mentioning these attractions. The author went to Casa Loma and the CN Tower, while also sampling local eateries such as Auntie and Uncles on College Street and Terroni on Queen.?
"However, the most jaw-dropping interior has to be Frank Gehry's makeover of the Art Gallery of Toronto with its huge expanse of billowing glass, like a ship slowly passing through the city centre," The Sunday Express said.  
Yes, the water and imagery of water left a significant impression on the author. 
"The astonishing, uninterrupted view of the city's skyline is one to savour in a city which might not hit the headlines like New York and Chicago do, but still has the ability to dazzle and delight."
Read the full story here
Original Source: Sunday Express

Daniels Spectrum named best new venue for meetings and events: Canada

Daniels Spectrum has been named the best new venue for meetings and events in Canada, according to the first National BizBash Event Style Awards.
The winners of the inaugural awards were announced last Wednesday at the BizBash IdeaFest in New York. The awards honour "the best ideas, strategies, products and venues across North America" and are given to "entries that demonstrated innovation, quality of execution, effectiveness, and an influential impact on the event and meeting industry."
Located in Regent Park, Daniels Spectrum is a cultural hub and features office and event space, community programming, meeting rooms, and various other amenities. 
Here's what BizBash said about Daniels Spectrum.
Located in downtown Toronto’s Regent Park redevelopment, Daniels Spectrum was designed by Diamond & Schmitt Architects and has a mandate to support culturally diverse and inclusive events. The colorful facility features a fully equipped main hall with a 300-seat retractable bleacher system and two retractable walls, an outdoor stage, and a lounge for smaller performances, meetings, and receptions.
View the full slideshow featuring all the winners here
Original Source: BizBash

Comparing Toronto to Detroit and Chicago

When Detroit filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, it forced many cities to reevaluate the economics of their regions. The Martin Prosperity Institute has compiled the first of many reports to come comparing Detroit, Toronto and Chicago.

The institute is "the world's leading think-tank on sub national factors—location, place and city regions—in global economic prosperity." It operates out of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The reports will look at a variety of attributes. The first explored household incomes across the cities and was released last Friday ahead of the Toronto-Detroit symposium, an event that looked at Detroit and Toronto as Drivers for Healthy Cities. 
The report analyzes the three cities in terms of areas where household income falls below the national average (red) and areas where it is above the national average (green).

Here is a key finding from the report:
"From first glance, it is clear that fewer tracts within the Toronto metro have an average household income lower than the national average, especially when compared to Detroit and Chicago. Despite this though, there is once again a reoccurring trend, in which most of the tracts with average household incomes below the national average are found within the city itself. Outside of the City of Toronto there are almost no tracts shaded red. As in Chicago, many of the tracts with below average household incomes are in the inner suburbs, and take up a large amount of space geographically. The red tracts in Toronto make up for 36% of the total land in the city. This is a significant amount of the city, but not as large as in Chicago and nowhere near the same amount as in Detroit. As this map presents, the Toronto metro and City of Toronto are generally better off than the rest of Canada, and although income inequality in Toronto has been discussed to great lengths, this map displays that in relation to the national average, Toronto performs much better than other large cities."

We will continue to report on key findings from forthcoming insights.
Read the full report here
Original source: Martin Prosperity Institute

Toronto to revitalize postwar highrises

A group of Canadian architects and not-profits have teamed up to tackle the issue of the city's aging postwar highrises. "The effort dubbed Tower Renewal that is taking root in Toronto proposes fixes on many fronts, from energy efficiency to economic development. If that renewal works, much of our biggest city, and the lives of more than a million Canadians, will be transformed for the better," an article in the Globe and Mail reports.
This fall, the City of Toronto launches "a new program to finance green renovations and repairs in these buildings," which coincides with a recent symposium hosted by he Toronto and Dutch consulate called "Enabling Cities to Grow Green." The symposium looked at new zoning changes designed to improve neighbourhoods, "many of them needy."
But there are a number of challenges. For one, says Graeme Stewart of ERA Architects in Toronto, Canadians need to realize the significance of our towers. Toronto has the second largest number of apartment towers in North America housing some one million people. They're not beautiful, modeled after European-style regional planning.
Today, these buildings are 50 years old and in need of maintenance. The maintenance isn't the problem, the locations are. "The issue is how they were placed in the city and in the landscape. Modernist planning deliberately kept them away from sources of employment, retail hubs and decent transit, and they were surrounded by vaguely defined spaces which created an unpleasant no-man’s-land condition," the article reports.
Tower Renewal will look to how European cities have rebuilt and renovated their apartment towers.
"To renew a neighbourhood of towers… it is important to activate the street with pedestrian-friendly retail and community uses – to make these car-oriented neighbourhoods more walkable and mixed." A similar sentiment was echoed in this week's Vital Signs report
Read the full story here
Original source: The Globe and Mail

An overview of Toronto as Canada's largest city

Toronto's population has grown more than 100,000 in the past year "equivalent of a new city on its own," says an article that ran in Daily Commercial News exploring Canada's six largest cities, the home of one in every two Canadians. 
"Toronto has the highest population, 5.9 million, followed by Montreal (4.0 million), Vancouver (2.5 million), Calgary and Ottawa-Gatineau (each 1.3 million) and Edmonton (1.2 million)," the article says. 
The two-part series based their findings on population figures from Statistics Canada's census metropolitan areas (CMAS) which including downtown cores and "surrounding highly-integrated suburbs."
The findings reveal some interesting trends. "One in six Canadians lives in the Toronto CMA. Toronto is a 'behemoth' on the national scene," the article says. "Toronto has a strong financial sector, excellent academic institutions, vibrant broadcasting, communications and entertainment companies and ongoing manufacturing activity, with a solid base of auto assembly plants."
The article notes a few things that threaten Toronto on an international level, pointing out potential problems with the adoption of Michigan's "right to work" legislation which may threaten our province's auto industry, the article says. It also notes Mayor Rob Ford's media spectacles and the heavy construction activity in the city.
"The city is gearing up to host the 2015 PanAm Games, which will see the participation of more athletes than gather in one place during the Olympics."
One more interesting thing, according to the Statistics Toronto is a "largely business-oriented" population, compared to the West Coat's chill environmental and "artistic slant on life."
Read the full profiles here and here
Original source: Daily Commercial News

New tall building guidelines designed to protect skyline view

The city of Toronto released updated city wide Tall Building Design Guidelines on May 8 calling for tall buildings "to coexist with the rest of the city, by preserving certain views, honouring neighbourhood context and pedestrian experience," as summarized in an article that appeared in Metro News on Monday. 
The updated and new guidelines build on design criteria first established in 2006, which initially prompted "push back" among the design and development communities, Ward 5 Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of the planning and growth management community, told Metro
Metro writes, "The latest effort come [sic] after six years of watching what worked and didn’t work in the past. The general content is similar to existing planning documents, with more specific language and changes based on feedback from developers, ratepayer’s groups and citizens. One of the changes is a call for shorter base buildings, Milczyn says."
The new guidelines place an emphasis on neighbourhood consistency. If there's "a consistent height to neighbourhood buildings, the base of a tall building should be aligned with those. If there isn’t consistency, a building’s base should be 80 per cent as tall as the adjacent street — so that the opposite side of the street will have at least five hours of sunlight during the spring and fall equinoxes. If the building is located on a particularly wide street, the base height would be capped at 24 metres, or seven-storeys for a mixed-use building. The cap is new."
Additional information on the new guidelines, including a greater emphasis on heritage buildings, can be read in Metro's story here.

To read the guidelines as issued by the city, check out the report here
Original source: Metro News

Do women make prettier cities?

An article appearing in the Telegraph cites that if more women were to partake in architecture and city infrastructure, cities would become safer and better designed.  Featuring an interview with Christine Murray, Toronto expat and editor of Architects' Journal, the article says "more women architects could lead to better designed cities that were more 'humane,' 'safer' and 'livable.'"
"Women have a unique perspective on the world, and it is not to say that men cannot design excellent cities, or a good nursery or workplace, but everybody would benefit from designs by both halves of the gene pool," Murray told the Telegraph.
The article explains women face many challenges in the industry such as high female drop out rates, pay discrepancies, lengthy education periods, bullying, and cites having children as a disadvantage. Only 20 per cent of the country's registered architects are women, a trend common across the board. 
Read the full story here.
Original source: The Telegraph

Toronto startup offers underwater solution to energy storage woes

Toronto-based startup Hyrdrostor could soon make Ontario's energy infrastructure significantly more efficient thanks to their innovative new energy storage technology—the underwater "accumulator." The accumulators or compressed air energy storage (CAES) units are giant underwater energy storage units that convert unused energy from the grid into compressed air for future usage. After a successful pilot project last summer, Hydrostor has recently partnered with Toronto Hydro to construct a 1MW, 4MWh demonstration facility about seven kilometers from Toronto's shore later this year.
"As Hydrostor president Cam Lewis explains, his company's first-of-its-kind system mechanically converts electricity from the grid to compressed air, which is captured, cooled and can be stored indefinitely in underwater accumulators. These accumulators are large, high-strength polyester bags that inflate with the air like a big balloon—no doubt producing quite an underwater show for salmon and lake inhabitants. When the grid needs the stored energy, the weight of the water pushes the air back to the surface where Hydrostor's expander/generator system sends it back."

"The idea, Lewis says, is to transmit excess electricity at night when demand is less and reverse it when demand is high. The technology offers 70 per cent round-trip efficiency, he says."

read full story here
original source Smart Grid Technology

Toronto's waterfront called one of world's biggest urban shoreline revitalization efforts

The Wall Street Journal spotlights the Toronto Waterfront redevelopment in a tripartite feature that includes not only an in-depth article on the effort,  but also a slideshow of the many redevelopment projects underway and a video interview with Waterfront Toronto CEO John Campbell.

Declaring the redevelopment of Toronto's shoreline, "one of the world's biggest waterfront revitalization efforts" the Wall Street Journal looks both at projects still in progress (e.g. the West Donlands) and those projects that have been successfully integrated into the fabric of the city (e.g. the Simcoe Wavedeck).

see full feature here (subscription required)
original source Wall Street Journal 

How Scarborough Civic Centre's modernism started with a single tree

The Torontoist takes us through the history of the Scarborough Civic Centre, and how a single oak tree inspired its creation.

Designed in 1973 by architect Raymond Moriyama, the modernist geometric structure remains a well-used and iconic public space.
"A space station, a castle, a ship... make any fanciful comparison you will, but the Scarborough Civic Centre is open for business and pleasure."
"Such was the grand description applied to architect Raymond Moriyama’s geometric design in a 1973 tourism brochure, shortly after the Scarborough Civic Centre’s official opening on June 29 of that year. It was a building that would, at least for a time, be dubbed the jewel of Ontario."
"But it was a project the architect had initially been hesitant to get behind."
"Moriyama changed his mind when he saw the proposed development site. What has now become Scarborough Town Centre—home to its own mall, RT station, and bus terminal in addition to the Civic Centre complex—was, in the late 1960s, almost entirely farmland, with 'prominent strands of mature hardwood still intact.' The idea of preserving this streak of nature within an expanding urban context tickled the designer. His imagination was fired particularly by the presence of a single, old oak tree."

read full story here
original source Torontoist 

A pre-condo history of Liberty Village

BlogTO's Derek Flack goes deep into the archives to unearth Liberty Village's industrial past. Flack's archival photo essay reveals the Liberty Village that existed "before the condos"—from the early 20th century prison that gave Liberty Village its name, to the growth and decline of the area's industrial activity, to the transformation of the area by a small group of artists in the 1980s. 
"For all the development that's shaped Liberty Village over the last decade or so, the area's industrial past retains something of a ghostly presence—at least if one confines himself to exploring the western half of the neighbourhood. The eastern end, leading in across the still new-feeling East Liberty Street from Strachan Avenue, on the other hand, remains a source of angst for heritage preservationists who lament this city's near-complete contempt for 19th and early 20th century industrial architecture."
"According to a report from the University of Toronto's Centre for Urban and Community Studies, "municipal deregulation of land uses in the King Street West area in 1994 contributed to the attraction of the area for developers and real estate speculators.... Many small businesses and low-income tenants were evicted to allow property owners to renovate their buildings. The deregulation of zoning bylaws had increased the pressure to redevelop industrial lands and put planners under constant pressure to allow the conversion of old industrial buildings for residential or office use."
read full story here
original source BlogTO

Travel mag ranks Bayview station among world's 15 most beautiful subway stops

Online travel magazine BootsnAll lists Toronto's Bayview Station as among the "15 most beautiful subway stations in the world."
Opened in 2002 and designed by Stevens Group Architects, Bayview Station is singled out for its high-ceiling entrance pavilions, long-angled roofs and for showcasing wall projections by Toronto artist Panya Clark Espinal.
"Throughout the station, you can see From Here Right Now, a trompe l’oeil installation by Toronto artist Panya Clark Espinal. Her website explains that in From Here Right Now, 'twenty-four hand-drawn images have been 'projected' onto the architecture of the station so that when seen from the original location of projection, the images are crystalized and realistic, but when seen from other locations they appear to be abstractions. These images act as beacons, drawing the viewers along various paths of movement. Depicting everyday objects and simple geometric shapes, the images are rendered in an uncommonly large scale and in unusual orientations, allowing one to interact playfully with them as one moves through the space."

read full story here
original source BootsnAll

Time-lapse video captures Toronto's nonstop construction

ConstrucToronto, a time-lapse video making the rounds on the Internet, documents Toronto's seemingly unstoppable high-rise construction. As reported by Yahoo News (who also featured the video), there is now almost more high-rise construction in Toronto than all of the US combined
"If you live in the city of Toronto almost everywhere you look you will see new construction. There is so much the National Post referred to it in a headline as the 'city of mass construction.' But rarely do people get to view it in fast forward. When one photographer started to see a building going up, the camera started rolling."
"'I thought I'd try to document it as best I could,' said the filmmaker, who goes by the handle FMR on vimeo. 'My second attempt at a 'time-lapse' and 'tilt-shift' piece.'"
"There are 132 buildings under construction in Toronto, followed by 88 in Mexico City and 86 in New York City. In all of the US, there are only 139 highrises being built. And Toronto isn't the only Canadian city with a boom. Calgary, Vancouver and Mississauga are building eight, seven and six high-rises respectively."
check out video here
original source Yahoo News

Toronto's aging bank towers go green

The Toronto Star looks at the "greening" of Toronto's financial core. In addition to a surge in the construction of new sustainable office towers, many iconic Toronto buildings—from First Canadian Place to the TD Tower—are in the midst of massive "green" refurbishments.

"A number of Toronto’s landmark bank towers are now swaddled in scaffolding as they undergo a combined $300 to $400 million in refurbishments that include everything from updating their aged food courts to, in the case of First Canadian Place, replacing its almost 40-year-old marble façade."

"'The trophy towers are getting to that 30- and 40-year-old mark so they are hitting the gym again, so to speak, and getting into shape because they realize they aren't the only game in town anymore,' says John Peets, vice president of leasing for Oxford Properties."

"Oxford, the real estate arm of the OMERS pension fund, announced in October that it's teaming up with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to do what would have been unthinkable a decade ago. They're building a 30-storey office tower between Bay and York Sts. that will become the new domestic banking headquarters for the Royal Bank of Canada."

"Most of the renos are aimed at helping the financial towers, the first of which was built in the 1960s, achieve so-called LEED certification—an internationally recognized acknowledgement that the building is energy efficient and environmentally sound."

read full story here
original source Toronto Star 
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