Posts tagged with "Toronto":

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PARTISANS’ Building Raincoat could help Toronto keep a street culture year-round

Toronto is known for many great things. Its weather isn’t one of them. For the city's architecture the question is: how can public, urban space be usable and comfortable throughout the year? The architecture collective PARTISANS thinks it might have an answer. Referencing the “maze of awnings…and glass arcades” that defined Toronto streets in the late 19th century, the firm has designed an adjustable awning, somewhat-humorously called the "Building Raincoat," that could be installed to protect the sidewalk (and its users) from the elements. Intended to be applied onto any building, or perhaps pre-planned in new construction, the ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) structure latches onto the facade and to street pavers to create a protected space that remains transparent and lightweight, but still maintains the necessary durability to handle any meteorological assault. The Building Raincoat's four layers of EFTE help regulate sun exposure, and the spaces between the two interior layers inflate and deflate automatically to shift the opacity of the surface in order to regulate temperature under the canopy. The firm expects the Building Raincoat to double the number of daylight hours that can be comfortably spent outside each year. Cofounder Alex Josephson told Sidewalk Talk, the publication of Sidewalk Labs and Waterfront Toronto's joint effort Sidewalk Toronto, which hosted a presentation of the prototype of the building raincoat earlier this week, that PARTISANS took inspiration from other similar architectural typologies, like inflatables, that have been used to deal with space in experimental ways. The team iterated an array of possible structures before deciding on the three main qualities they needed: organic, folded, tensile. The raincoats have been developed in collaboration with structural designers Maffeis Engineering and environmental engineers RWDI, which have expertise in sustainability and in climate-conscious architecture.  To arrive at the right stable, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing form, the collaborators have leveraged computer modeling tools from the get-go, integrating them into the design process, rather than just using them during later testing phases. Leveraging these technologies, they’ve developed what Josephson calls a “toolkit,” an array of different related shapes and systems that can be adaptably deployed and maneuvered. “This is real experimentation where the scientific method meets design,” Josephson told Sidewalk Talk. In addition to providing adaptable protection from the elements, engineer Gonçalo Pedro of RWDI said that the Building Raincoat acts as a natural extension of the space it is attached to. It creates flexible transitions and gradations between inside and outside, public and private. While still in the experimental phase, the team hopes that the building raincoat can help shape and shift our relation to public space, allowing us to occupy the street together as much as possible. This month, they've put it to the test and have installed a version of the Building Raincoat at 307, Sidewalk Labs' Toronto headquarters.
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3XN reveals North America’s tallest timber office tower for Toronto

Danish studio 3XN has revealed renderings of its latest addition to the Toronto waterfront, a 10-story timber office tower. Once complete, T3 Bayside will be not only the third 3XN tower to spring up in Bayside but also the tallest timber office building in all of North America. The 138-foot-tall office building is being developed by the international firm Hines and will provide office space for the 2,000-acre Bayside redevelopment (not to be confused with Sidewalk Labs’ nearby “Quayside” project). T3 Bayside, and its adjoining plaza, will join 3XN’s two nearby residential towers, and according to the developer, the development is expected to cement Bayside’s status as a live-work neighborhood. Using cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the tower’s frame allowed 3XN to reduce both projected construction costs as well as the building’s embodied energy. The structural timber will be left exposed inside, creating a warm interior that, according to 3XN, will also regulate the indoor humidity as the wood absorbs and releases moisture. 3XN has wrapped the building in vertically-oriented exterior louvers, that are partially interrupted to create a stair-like pattern of terraces across the facade—a design flourish that’s becoming increasingly common among office buildings. T3 Bayside is expected to welcome up to 3,000 tenants across a variety of coworking and community spaces, and flexibility was a major design driver. Double-height adjustable spaces that directly connect to the lobby, event and community spaces, more traditional offices, and communal “social” zones will all be mixed. From the renderings, it appears that T3 Bayside will also integrate parking on its second floor. A new plaza at the tower’s base will connect cafes, lobbies, exhibition and gallery spaces, and retail at T3 Bayside’s base with the larger Bayside development. 3XN hopes that by activating the ground-level, the design can lead visitors to the waterfront promenade along Lake Ontario. No estimated completion date or budget for the project have been released as of yet.
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DS+R reveals design of “eroded” building at the University of Toronto

Diller Scofidio + Renfro has unveiled the design for a 170,000-square-foot stacked building at the University of Toronto (U of T) to be known as 90 Queen’s Park. Set on the site of a former planetarium, the interdisciplinary structure will serve nine previously-dispersed departments at U of T, but will specifically house the university's newly-established School of Cities, a global hub for urban-focused research, education, and outreach. DS+R was awarded the project after winning a 2016 design competition in which the New York–based firm collaborated with two practices from Toronto, architectsAlliance and ERA Architects. The result of their efforts is a looming, boxy building that appears to shine with a coppery metallic finish. The most important part of the design, according to the architects, is the surrounding context. It’s bordered by Queen’s Park to the east, the Royal Ontario Museum to the north, the 1960s-era Edward Johnson Building to the west (home of U of T’s Faculty of Music), as well as Flavelle House to the south, a Victorian-style structure housing the Faculty of Law.  DS+R’s intervention to the nearly-200-year-old university will be among its most stand-out modern structures when complete. With a rectangular design configured to fit like a puzzle piece around the adjacent Falconer Hall, the school’s original, 118-year-old law building, it's meant to seamlessly connect U of T’s arts, architecture, and legal institutions with one another.  Stilted on one end, 90 Queen’s Park features nine distinct layers. Renderings show each level includes varying facades of ribbed glass with some floors set back and others slightly cantilevered for flare. A large, concaved window overwhelms several middle floors on the south facade of the structure and serves as the backdrop to a 200-seat music recital hall. The architects designed the performance space around the large opening to show off views of southern Toronto’s skyline. At the top of the building is a 400-seat event space featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap the southern and eastern edges of the building, also providing sights of the city. DS+R describes this part of the exterior as eroding from the other sides of the building. To the right of Falconer Hall facing Queen’s Park, the structure boasts 10 strips of opaque glass that are cut off at different lengths. The transparent sections reveal interior corridors, public spaces, as well as the central atrium and spiraling stairs, while the more solid ends conceal classrooms and offices. Charles Renfro, cofounder and principal of DS+R, said in a statement that the building’s dynamic design is aimed to inspire collaborative discourse and public engagement. “This ‘campus within a campus’ is revealed in the building’s dual identity—a smooth cohesive block of faculty offices and workspaces gives way to a variegated expression of individual departments as the building is sculpted around Falconer Hall,” he said. In addition to housing the School of Cities, 90 Queen’s Park will include room for classes within the Faculty of Arts + Science, including history, Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, and the Institute of Islamic Studies, as well as the Anne Tanenbaum Centre of Jewish Studies. Some space will also be dedicated to the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Music, while other gathering areas will be used by the adjacent Royal Ontario Museum. U of T’s School of Cities was created last year to combine the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design with community-based research initiatives dedicated to solving the world’s biggest urban issues. In a press release, Richard Sommer, dean of the department, noted that the building’s outward face is of particular importance. “The edges of the campus and its borders with the city are the places where you engage the community and the vibrancy of the city of Toronto,” he said. “When you have buildings that are at these edges, it’s particularly important that they have programming that produces a platform for public exchange.”  Set to break ground in 2020, the project will also include a large entry plaza to the north that will feature a terraced landscape, as well as a cafe and restaurant.
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Sidewalk Labs reveals Snøhetta and Heatherwick designs for its Toronto development

Toronto’s interconnected “smart neighborhood” is inching ever closer to reality. Sidewalk Labs has released a batch of new renderings from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio, as well as documents detailing how the company plans to pay for the ground-up development. Sidewalk Labs’ Quayside waterfront Toronto neighborhood is being touted as a smart, interconnected, “100 percent timber” development. In a February 14 Medium post, the company released a progress report detailing its progress before the finalization of its draft Master Innovation and Development Plan. One proposal that’s drawing flak is an arrangement where Sidewalk Labs would build infrastructure such as light rail on the site in exchange for a share of the revenue generated by increased property values—diverting tax revenue from public coffers. Sidewalk Labs claims the arrangement would allow the neighborhood to rise “years, if not decades, sooner than it would otherwise. This would unlock the potential of the Eastern Waterfront, and the jobs, housing, and economic growth that will come with it.” The company also clarified how many units of housing it would be building in the neighborhood, which would contain 12 mass timber towers. The project will adhere to the site’s existing zoning and will be 90 percent residential. That means 2,500 units total, 1,000 of which would be rented at below-market rates, and 50 percent of which would be “purpose-built rental apartments.” Half of the below-market housing would be affordable (and a quarter of that marked as “deeply affordable”) and the other half would be designated for middle-income earners. To meet the high demand for timber that the 12-acre project requires, Sidewalk Labs has announced that they would build a tall-timber factory in Ontario, which would supply up to 4,000 new jobs. Google’s 600,000-to-one-million-square-foot Canadian headquarters could also be in the making on the western side of Villiers Island along the planned light rail loop. Retail, an educational component, and amenities are likely headed to the campus as well. The neighborhood will also become a testbed for innovative urban technologies. Other than the weather-responsive “skirts” deployed at the open-air bases of each building, the entire project will be networked with high-speed Wi-Fi. A civic data trust would be responsible for removing identifying markers from any information gathered and aggregating it. On the design side, Michael Green Architecture has developed a mass timber kit-of-parts, and Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studio have designed building concepts for the campus, innovation zone, common areas, and other spaces. Of note are the “scalloped” balconies found throughout the residential developments and post-and-beam styled open-air “stoas” at the base of each tower. The design will continue to change as Sidewalk Labs solicits feedback from stakeholders, the Canadian and provincial government, and Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs' parent company. The entire presentation can be viewed here.
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UUfie plays with architecture’s place in nature around the world

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  UUfie will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 21, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Despite being just ten years old, UUfie has snagged commissions in high-profile locations around the world that any practice would envy. Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and UUfie’s founders are aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; they credit their global experience with bringing “more cultural awareness and diversity in thinking” to their practice.

The firm was founded in 2009 by Irene Gardpoit and Eiri Ota in Tokyo, where the two met while Ota was working at Jun Aoki & Associates and Gardpoit at Arata Isozaki & Associates. Their firm’s first project was a residential commission from a local family in Tokyo—where Paris-born Ota grew up—and there the practice grew for a few years before moving to Toronto in 2013. Gardpoit is a native of the Canadian city and said that the move was a fresh opportunity for the firm.

“In Canada, there is a growth in supporting Canadian talent and potential for establishing a vibrant design scene that is broadening its perspective. In Japan, this scene is highly established and appears to lean now toward a retrospective view,” Gardpoit said. “Canada is a culturally diverse country in comparison to Japan. This diversity brings on its challenges, but it is also unique in that it does not necessarily have its own established identity. It allows us to experiment.”

UUfie frequently experiments with architecture’s relationship to nature, a theme that could lend itself to cliché in other hands—UUfie keeps it fresh by staying stylistically flexible and thinking broadly. For the landmark Parisian department store Printemps Haussmann, UUfie was tasked with creating a new vertical circulation space in the retailer’s historic home. The practice took its cue from the building’s Art Nouveau stained glass depictions of plants and flowers, reinterpreting the decorations’ supple arcs and florid colors for the 21st century with a triangulated screen that hovers over a seven-story wall of kaleidoscopic dichroic glass running alongside the building’s escalators. “Colorfulness was the essential part,” Ota said. “It creates interaction as people go up and down the escalator.”

Lake Cottage, a small home in the woods for a large family, has a more direct relationship with nature—it would be hard for it not to, given that it’s in the middle of a Canadian forest. Although the cottage adopts some conventional cabin tropes, like wood siding and an A-frame structure, it cleverly plays with these norms, twisting the retreat into a sleek fun house. It’s a bit difficult to grasp with words—a product of UUfie’s  spaces’ subtle complexity—but essentially, the living room is nested inside the building’s frame like a Russian doll, with windows in the main space punched out to those surrounding it so that people in an above loft can peek in on those below. That same loft is lined with abstracted exterior shingles so that the living room “skylights” seem to be looking up at another building’s roof. It’s a funny mind trick that testifies to the firm’s ability to surprise with an economy of means, regardless of locale.

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Can Sidewalk Labs realize a totally timber smart city?

Can one of the world’s oldest building materials form the foundation of a sensor-integrated “smart” neighborhood? Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs is making a go of it on the Toronto waterfront, and has enlisted wood advocates and Katerra partner Michael Green Architecture (MGA) to design flexible, mixed-use timber buildings for its 3-million-square-foot Quayside project.

If the 12-acre site is developed as planned, it would become the largest timber project in the world.

The ground-up development in Quayside is leaning on mass timber because Sidewalk Labs has touted the material as sustainable and as tough as steel, as well as because cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels work well in prefabricated structures. MGA has designed a kit-of-parts that can be used for buildings of every scale, and Sidewalk Labs is reportedly looking at constructing a collection of 12 mass timber towers, with the tallest topping out at 30 stories.

Sidewalk Labs is aiming to build within Quayside’s existing zoning, which would entail 90 percent residential development.

The neighborhood will encourage street-level interaction through a combination of design and environmental control. MGA has anchored the base of each building with a “stoa,” or an open-air covered walkway supported by a colonnade (in this case, V-shaped heavy timber columns) that will contain retail and communal gathering places.

Of course, Toronto’s winters are especially punishing, and doubly so on the waterfront. Sidewalk Labs tapped the architecture studio PARTISANS to design an “outdoor comfort toolkit,” including a computer-controlled retractable canopy that will clad the stoas. The umbrella-like structures will block out wind, rain, and snow while heated pavers will keep snow off of the streets; the company claims that both advancements will double the amount of time residents will be able to spend outdoors.

Beyer Blinder Belle is responsible for the site’s master plan and Toronto-based PUBLIC WORK will be designing the landscape. Sidewalk Labs also reached out to the Ontario-based gh3*, Toronto’s Teeple Architects, and Toronto-based Dubbeldam Architecture + Design to create residential unit concepts. Sidewalk Labs will submit its final Master Innovation and Development Plan for public comment sometime this spring.

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Waterfront installations brave the Toronto winter to “break the ice”

The third annual Ice Breakers Exhibition has returned to the Toronto’s downtown waterfront, dropping five public installations across the edge of Queens Quay West. Ice Breakers is a collaborative public art experience jointly presented by the temporary arts advancement nonprofit Winter Stations, Waterfront Business Improvement Area, and PortsToronto, the Toronto port authority. This year’s Ice Breakers presents four winning designs from a variety of international teams, as well as a student entry from Ryerson University. The theme for the 2019 exhibition was “Signal Transmission,” and appropriately enough, each installation evokes sending or receiving a message. All five of the public pavilions for Ice Breakers were installed on January 19 and will remain on display through February 24. Chroma Key Protest, from Andrew Edmundson, principal of the Toronto-based Solve Architects Inc, references the language of protest. Twenty-five wooden buoys have been clustered and given blank signboards in chroma key green, the same color used in green screens. By appropriating the mechanisms of protesting but leaving the “signs” a color that can be anything, Edmundson invites visitors to project their own grievances onto the installation. Stellar Spectra, from the Toronto-based duo of Rob Shostak and Dionisios Vriniotis, is split into two occupiable pavilions. Each captures and refracts starlight through the dozens of tubes that make up the structure of Stellar Spectra, flooding each of the “lighthouses” with warm and cool-colored light. Connector, from the Hamburg, Germany–based Alexandra Griess and Jorel Heid, at first glance resembles a jumble of wires. That’s intentional, as the designers sought to reference the birds’ nests of communication wires that arose at the beginning of long-distance transmissions. Each of the mouthpieces corresponds to another, but participants will have to hunt for the appropriate end if they want to have a conversation. Tweeta-Gate, from Eleni Papadimitriou and Stefanos Ziras, founders of the Athens, Greece–based Space Oddity Studios (SOS), invites visitors to embark on an audiovisual journey. The series of yellow gates, made from painted wood and joined by metal connectors, are cut into shapes reminiscent of architectural styles from all over the world. Each gate is adorned with bells that can be activated by passersby, or the sway of the wind and natural elements. Tripix, the student submission from Ryerson University, seems purpose-made for the Instagram crowd. The faceted, panelized structure uses a high-contrast color scheme, red-on-white, to draw attention to its central pillar. An appropriate scheme, considering the goal of the exhibition is to get Toronto residents off the couch and into the snow.
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Sidewalk Labs releases a new site plan for its Toronto neighborhood

Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs is continuing to refine its plans for Toronto’s waterfront Quayside neighborhood. The tech company released its first look at the mass timber development in August of this year and has now released a more in-depth breakdown of how its 12-acre site will be developed. The latest vision of Quayside comes in advance of a roundtable on December 8 with community members and elected officials, the second-to-last such meeting before the release of the master innovation and development plan in 2019. The new draft site plan, which Sidewalk Labs described as “more Jetsons, less Black Mirror,” has slashed the development’s height and set specific affordable housing and sustainability targets. Quayside, which will be 90 percent affordable in accordance with the area’s existing zoning, is leaning on mass timber for its mixed-use towers. The Vancouver-based Michael Green Architecture was tasked with creating a kit-of-parts that could work with buildings of every scale. Each building will be anchored by an open-air “stoa,” covered walkways supported by rows of V-shaped heavy timber columns. New York's Beyer Blinder Belle is responsible for the project's master planning. Development will now be clustered around 12 mixed-use mass timber towers, with the tallest topping out at 30 stories. The tallest building in the sensor-integrated smart neighborhood was originally supposed to reach 50 stories tall. Sidewalk Labs now expects approximately 5,000 residents to call Quayside home, and have earmarked 20 percent of the units as affordable, and another 20 percent as below-market rate. Fifty percent of the development’s housing will be rental units. On the transportation side, Quayside is positioning itself to connect with Toronto’s light rail network. The neighborhood is also looking into a “flexible street” system that can transition from supporting traditional cars to autonomous vehicles once the technology comes to fruition. Quayside is shooting to reduce emissions over a typical neighborhood by 75-85 percent through a combination of geothermal wells and solar panels. The timber used, all of it locally sourced in a boost to the Canadian lumber industry, will also produce less carbon dioxide emissions overall when compared to a typical concrete-and-steel building. As Engadget noted, Sidewalk Labs has been less-than-successful in its attempts to create a trust to oversee the massive amounts of data the neighborhood would collect on its residents. Last month, the project’s lead expert and consultant, Ann Cavoukian, quit over concerns that the trust would not be able to anonymize the information it was receiving. Following the final roundtables and the approval of a master plan in 2019, Sidewalk Labs expects construction of the project to last three to five years.
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Privacy expert quits Sidewalk Labs’ smart city project in Toronto

Concerns about data privacy continue to dog the “smart city” planned for the Toronto waterfront by Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs. But it isn’t just residents and watchdog groups raising the alarm—consultants and advisors to the project are also jumping ship. The latest to leave is Dr. Ann Cavoukian, a privacy expert whose resignation was intended as a “strong statement” about the project's data protection issues. Announced last year, Quayside, as the neighborhood development is called, has from the beginning been envisioned as a district run on data and tech, and is the largest urban development of its kind in North America. A layer of sensors embedded in the city would control traffic systems, monitor air pollution, automate garbage collection, transport residents, and much more. In response to concerns about how it would protect the data, Sidewalk Labs just last week proposed that it should be managed by an independent data trust, according to a new data governance proposal. But this is far from enough for privacy experts like Cavoukian. “I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance,” she wrote in her resignation letter. Cavoukian’s guidelines center around Privacy by Design principles, which incorporate privacy protection in every step of a project’s engineering process, a condition that she said Sidewalk Labs had also committed to. However, Cavoukian said she realized last week that the data gathered in Quayside, instead of being wiped and unidentifiable, would be available to third parties who would not be beholden to the privacy commitment made by Sidewalk Labs. The Alphabet company, for its part, released a statement that essentially said its hands were tied: "It became clear that Sidewalk Labs would play a more limited role in near-term discussions about a data governance framework at Quayside." With Cavoukian's resignation, she joins Saadia Muzaffar, founder of Tech Girls Canada, who stepped down earlier this month from the project's digital strategy advisory panel due to what she called a lack of transparency and public information about its data protection measures. As Muzaffar wrote in her own letter of resignation: "The most recent roundtable in August displayed a blatant disregard for resident concerns about data and digital infrastructure. Time was spent instead talking about buildings made out of wood and the width of one-way streets, things no one has contested or expressed material concern for in this entire process.” The final plan for the tech-driven district will be released next year.
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The Global Hub’s undulating facade turns toward Lake Michigan for inspiration

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The newest major addition to Northwestern University in Chicagoland, the 415,000 square-foot Kellogg School of Management’s Global Hub, establishes a formidable cornerstone for the campus’s border with Lake Michigan. KPMB Architects, a Toronto-based firm with a significant background in sustainable institutional design, addressed the region’s weather extremes with a well-executed layout and an undulating triple-glazed glass curtain wall.
  • Facade Manufacturer Guardian Glass, Interpane Glass, Coil (aluminum mullions), Bison (wood decking)
  • Architects KPMB Architects
  • Facade Installer Ventana Design-Build Systems, Power Construction
  • Facade Consultants Thornton Tomasetti
  • Location Evanston, Illinois
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System A concrete system with glass curtain wall panels
  • Products Guardian Glass SNR-43, Interpane Glass 46/31
According to Senior Associate Kevin Thomas, the first inspiration for the building’s six-story curvilinear form is the rolling movement stemming from the adjacent Lake Michigan. The nearby shoreline stabilization system, composed of boulders and precast concrete, has been consistently smoothed over by wave patterns. For KPMB, “the use of glass helps break down the mass of the large structure while maximizing visual connections to the adjacent lake and Chicago skyline." The 160,000 square-foot curtain wall is designed with horizontal and vertical anodized aluminum mullions, and a reflective glass coating. While sections of the facade are curved, the design team worked closely with the manufacturer to incorporate narrow curtain wall modules and vertical glass fins at every frame to blur hard edges. Each triple-glazed glass panel is tied to the structural frame with modified steel angles painted to match the curtain wall and aluminum anchor hooks. The result is a sweeping surface that simultaneously reflects other wings of the building and the ever-changing environmental conditions. Although glass panels of various sizes are the primary material element, KPMB Architects added certain details to diversify the dominating blue-green color palette. The elevations are unified by reddish-brown Brazilian walnut soffits that crest and wrap around the building. Brazilian walnut, a hardwood, was chosen for its durability and minimal maintenance. The Global Hub’s layout consists of four wings, perceived by the design team as independent buildings, rotating around a centrally placed atrium. Swooping white balconies, interconnected by pale-yellow wood bridges and an expansive two-story stairwell, are the main conduits of interior circulation. The glass curtain wall and a band of rooftop clerestories, clad with high-performance translucent glazing, flood the interior with natural light without significantly producing thermal heat. The project, part of KPMB Architects' long-running collaboration with Transsolar KlimaEngineering, was designed with a number of features to boost environmental performance. These measures include a geothermal energy system embedded beneath an adjacent football field, a ventilation system that circulates fresh air, and an automated shading system. In 2018, the Global Hub received LEED platinum certification.
 
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BIG’s undulating homage to Habitat 67 wins approval in Toronto

Only a few days after BIG’s snaking Serpentine Pavilion was fully installed in Toronto, King Street West, the stacked housing development sited directly behind the pavilion, received official approval and is set to begin sales shortly. The full-block King Street West, developed by BIG’s frequent Canadian collaborators Westbank (also the owner of the aforementioned pavilion), was reportedly inspired in both form and spirit by Moshe Safdie’s experimental Habitat 67 in Montreal. Similar to the adjacent pavilion, the 750,000-square-foot project will rise in stepped, stacked boxes and invoke a pixelated effect—an effect that extends even to the cladding, thanks to the glass bricks that will be used for the facade. Each concrete cube has been extruded and set back to terrace space and open up lighting for residents, as well as give each unit its own unique identity. Much like Habitat 67 or BIG’s own “self-contained neighborhood," the 8 House in Copenhagen, the aim was to lend each unit the feeling of being its own standalone home. "With King Street West, we wanted to find an alternative to the tower and podium you see a lot of in Toronto and revisit some of Safdie's revolutionary ideas,” said Bjarke Ingels in a press release, “but rather than a utopian experiment on an island, have it nested into the heart of the city. It would be strange if one of the most diverse cities in the world had the most homogenous architecture." King Street West will incorporate the site’s existing century-old brick buildings and convert them into a mix of office and retail space. The peaks-and-valleys approach BIG took to the development’s massing extends to the underside, as the building rises like the entrance to a cavern at the bottom, opening up to what BIG has described as a “maze-like” courtyard within. The “mountainous” portions of the project will frame the interior landscaping at ground-level, which comes courtesy of the Toronto-based landscape architects Public Work. The project had been under consideration by the Toronto city government for the last two-and-a-half years, as the King West neighborhood is the meeting point of Toronto’s downtown skyscrapers and shorter brick buildings. Several converted factories and warehouses sit on the same block as King Street West, and the development was approved only after BIG was able to scale its “village” down to a contextual size. No estimated completion date for King Street West has been announced yet.
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Sidewalk Labs releases its vision for Toronto’s waterfront

Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs has revealed their vision for a proposed “smart city” on Toronto’s waterfront in a (now) 12-acre parcel in the formerly-industrial port district of Quayside. This is the first time the company has released concrete design details on their forthcoming neighborhood, but information on how data will be collected­­—and how much—is still being kept under wraps. If the project is approved as is, the neighborhood could eventually be home to 3,000 residential units built entirely from mass timber. Sidewalk Labs has enlisted the help of the Katerra-owned Michael Green Architecture (MGA), which is no stranger to working with timber, to design the large mixed-use Quayside buildings. At the base of all of the proposed buildings would be “stoas," open-air retail and communal gathering spaces with adjustable protection from the elements. If built, the three-million-square-foot development would be the largest timber project in the world. All of this was revealed during a briefing yesterday ahead of the latest round of public input. Sidewalk Labs released a suite of new details during the public roundtable, including their plans for activating the streets, integrating the adjacent waterway, and doubling the amount of time residents can enjoy outdoors. While the open nature of the modular stoas is meant to encourage pedestrian mingling at ground level, MGA has also designed a series of collapsible, umbrella-like structures to block out wind, rain, and snow. The expandable canopies, when combined with heated streets that melt snow, will supposedly mitigate some of the more unpleasant weather during the winter. Sidewalk Labs is also testing a modular paving system that can be embedded with sensors and rearranged depending on how the street is being used. The team is designing a new multimodal street grid for the neighborhood that prioritizes public transportation, biking, and walking, and that narrows the allotment for cars in anticipation of autonomous vehicles. Of course, Sidewalk Labs’ attempt to create a ground-up, fully-developed smart city is still in the planning phases and faces several hurdles. While tall timber construction was recently permitted in Oregon, Toronto still caps mass timber buildings at six stories; Sidewalk Labs reportedly wants to build as tall as 50 stories in Quayside. As previously mentioned, the company has also been tight-lipped on the type and quantity of data their neighborhood will collect, and it remains to be seen if the proposed technology will be mature enough to support a robust, interconnected infrastructure for 3,000 residents. We’ll find out more as we get closer to the project’s spring groundbreaking date.