Toronto Mayor John Tory has announced plans to protect 21 acres of downtown real estate for the future Rail Deck Park. The park will be placed on top of an existing rail corridor. According to the city, this may be the last opportunity to create a public park for the city's expanding downtown population. According to the Ontario Ministry of Finance, greater Toronto's population is projected to increase by over 2.8 million, or 42.9 percent, in the next 25 years. The population of downtown Toronto is expected to double. Public improvements like this proposed park take an important step toward preparing the city for a long-term population boom. This announcement comes as part of Toronto's TOCore initiative, which is set up to ease downtown into this more populated future. TOCore is a long-range plan to create infrastructure and amenities to accommodate a significantly higher population density. Among the planned improvements are more options for bike commuting, new community facilities, and, of course, new parks. "Great cities have great parks. As Toronto grows, we need to take bold action to create public space and make sure we build a city that makes future generations proud,” said Mayor Tory in a press release. “This is our last chance to secure a piece of land that could transform the way we experience our city.” The park will be built on what is now Toronto's western rail corridor, on a site that spans from Blue Jays Way to Bathurst Street. No other details are available yet. Toronto will follow in the footsteps of Chicago's Millennium Park, Philadelphia's University City, and Hudson Yards in Manhattan by capping a rail yard to make room for new development.
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A group of U.S. firms have been selected to help design one of Toronto's major undeveloped sites, a 683-acre property where a mixed-use urban neighborhood will be built. These include the Laguna Beach, California-based office of SWA Group, San Francisco-based BCV Architects, and New York-based Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates. The site—about 1.5 miles north of Toronto's Pearson International Airport—is currently owned by Woodbine Entertainment Group; the development will be built around the existing Woodbine Racetrack, which hosts live horse races four days a week. The group's gaming offerings will be the focus of the development, and a new casino will join the racetrack on the site. Woodbinem, who's working with development consultant Live Work Learn Play, will also add biking and walking trails, retail and restaurants, and housing. The project will also experiment with growing feed on the premises for its resident thoroughbred horses. Planning will take place over the next six months, while construction might be a decades-long process.
Toronto’s 10th Luminato Festival will #TurnOnTheHearn from now until June 26. To host the festival, Toronto-based architecture firm PARTISANS, in collaboration with theater and acoustics consultancy Charcoalblue, have repurposed the decommissioned Hearn Generating Station as a cultural center. The 400,000-square-foot space now serves a variety of purposes, including housing galleries, theaters, and cafes. A drone video captures the Hearn transformed: One of the exhibits—dubbed Trove: A View of Toronto in 50 of its Treasures and curated by Luminato Festival Artistic Director Jörn Weisbrodt—features fifty photographs by Toronto-based artist Scott McFarland of treasured objects and artworks from the city's private and public collections, The images are adhered onto the sides of the building. "Trove is like looking in a rear view mirror only the reflection reveals objects rarely before seen and stories yet untold," the press release states. PARTISANS designed a virtual gallery for Trove accessed via an augmented reality app “TheHearnAR." The app was developed by PARTISANS and Norm Li Studios; the duo also developed a video game to #PlayTheHearn that permits the exploration of the space and festival. PARTISANS has set up a temporary studio in the Hearn where it can engage with visitors and produce 3D models of the power plant and surrounding Port Lands. The models, created with the help of Ryerson University design students, will be a part of PARTISANS & Friends: Pop-Up Studio I & II, a two-part studio session in which designers and guests will imagine the future of Toronto. The discussion will range from the city’s infrastructure and architecture to its cultural and economic success. Guests will include: Halifax-based architecture firm Omar Gandhi, Toronto-based architecture firm UUfie, Luminato Festival Art Director Jörn Weisbrodt, and Toronto City Councillor Paula Fletcher.
Copenhagen-based 3XN has been named as the designers of a new condominium building on Toronto’s Inner Harbor. The new condos will be part of the $1.1 billion Waterfront Toronto masterplan development. The 13 acre masterplan is focused on redeveloping Queens Quay East in the East Bayfront neighborhood. This is the third housing project developed by international developer Hines in the Waterfront Toronto masterplan. Their first project, Aqualina and Aquavista, were both designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica. For the 3XN project, Hines is teaming up with Toronto-based real estate experts Tridal. Toronto-based Kirkor Architects will serve as the architect of record. The 3XN design is characterized by two stepped forms; the project's L-shape maximizes views of the river and downtown while admitting ample natural light to the ground-level public areas. The two wings of the project are connected by a seventh floor amenity space. 3XN architect Kim Herforth Nielsen described the design in a press release: "The design puts people first, paying particular attention to the quality of views, space and lifestyle. The development will command extraordinary views of the water, neighboring parks, and the city skyline." He also added, "While the stepped L-shape form provides a sculptural quality to the building, the large garden terraces, are the hallmark of the design." The Danish firm was selected after a competition. Hines Bayside Program Director Michael Gross explained the selection of 3XN. “It was quickly clear to the selection committee that 3XN had not only presented a compelling design, but also one that understood the site's importance to the City and the revitalization of the waterfront; the singular opportunities created by its location along the water's edge; and the market demands of Toronto's sophisticated condominium consumer." This will be 3XN’s first North American project.
Toronto's Don Valley could be set for a cable car network connecting the downtown district to the greener area around Evergreen Brick Works. The project has private backing from a Swiss-Canadian company. Steven Dale, CEO of Bullwheel International Cable Car, sees the scheme as bridging the gap for the last leg of the journey to get to the Brick Works, which is currently only accessible via a shuttle bus on public transport or by personal vehicle. According to Next City, the Brick Works sees 500,000 visitors arrive each year by car. The added infrastructure could potentially boost the local farmers market and see an increase in use at the children's garden and event areas as well the general area itself which offers a welcome break from urban life with parks and trails. Going over, rather than around or under, appears to be the preferred solution for swift access to the environmental center that is awkwardly sprawled across one of Toronto's ravines. Dale argues that the proposal isn't about developing infrastructure. He maintains that the cable car's primary function would be recreational, viewed and used as a civic landmark, able to offer views over the ravine. The system would also see no state interference, being privately run and funded. Dale hypothesizes that a journey would cost around $10 to non-locals with the entire scheme estimated at requiring $25 million to fund. As for the network itself, six towers, constructed on state land across the ravine will allow up to 42 cable cars to travel back and forth, travelling from the Brick Works in Don Valley down to Playter Gates in Downtown. The company added that each gondola would come tooled with a bike rack to facilitate cyclists as well as other measures being in place to accommodate disabled access. "I don’t know why we’d reject any means of getting people around," Dale said. “We’re trying to come to grips with what kinds of ways we can provide people greater access to the ravines without being too obtrusive … The concept of a cable car that goes through some land that is beautiful and scenic is very appealing." Despite the audacious scheme, no planning proposals have yet been submitted to the city authorities. That said, the Don Valley Cable Car project will host a meeting on March 8 by the proposed station location at Broadway and Danforth to provide further information to locals.
Arquitectonica in collaboration with New York firm S9 Architecture and Toronto-based Sweeney & Co. Architects have designed three mid-rise residential towers in Toronto, the tallest of which will be 526 feet high. The project is being spearheaded by WAM Development Group and will occupy a four-acre plot between 245–285 Queen East and Sherbourne and Ontario Streets as well as 348–412 on Richmond. Upon brief observation, the towers look like three lowercase i's aligned in a row. This is due to a recreational floor two-thirds up each of the towers. These spaces will house indoor and outdoor amenities including a living garden patio. The tallest tower, 45 stories tall, sits in the middle flanked by the other two slightly smaller buildings, both 466 feet high (39 storeys). At pedestrian level, the towers will be connected by a retail podium and public space. According to regional commentary forum Urban Toronto the "massive redevelopment will completely change the height, density, and urban character of Queen and Sherbourne." In terms of density, the trio of towers will add 1,645 housing units to the vicinity, being divvied up into 340 single bedroom; 832 single-bedroom with "den"; 235 double bedroom; 69 two-bedroom with "den", and 169 three-bedroom apartments. Of the 1,645 units, 1,110 are currently planned as rentable spaces. As for the public realm, brick paving has been used to contrast the glazed facade of the towers, creating a much more localized place and offering an alternate sense of scale. Within the area, protection from the elements will come in the form of a glass canopy so to maintain the aspect of openness.
Just when it seemed that the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) had enough projects on its plate, it looks like the firm's gone back to the building buffet for a residential complex in Toronto. Backed by developers Westbank and Allied REIT, the as-yet-unnamed project calls for more than 500 apartments spread over 725,000 square feet. The building consists of 12-foot-by-12-foot "pixilated patterns"—read "cubes"—that are stacked and rotated at 45-degree angles. From straight above, the complex resembles a plain rectangle with a public courtyard in the middle. In reality, the apartments stack and mass to form five peaks ranging in height from 15 to 17 stories, marking a return to Ingels's favored mountain typology. The block-wide building will lift up from the sidewalk at three points to allow pedestrians to travel between blocks. Toronto–based landscape architects PUBLIC WORK are collaborating with BIG on the project. There will be around 13 different floor plans, with a private terrace for each apartment. Ingels, the firm's founder and principal, explained the design to The Globe and Mail, likening the scale of the project to "a bundle of homes rather than a big new building.” The effect, Ingels explained, is similar to “a Mediterranean mountain town.” Canadians don't need to look far for another design precedent. It's difficult not to draw a comparison between BIG's proposal and Habitat 67, Moshe Safdie's iconic Montreal apartment complex.
Four winners and three student winners were selected to design art installations along Toronto’s beaches this winter. The concept behind the Winter Stations Design Competition is to enliven typically deserted beaches during the winter with whimsical structures. This year’s theme, Freeze/Thaw reflected Ontario’s harsh climate and elicited playful responses with installations ranging from a fur-lined pod to a fragmented rainbow-hued cavern. The jury received nearly 400 entries from both local and international designers. The seven winning designs will be built from February 10 to 14 along Kew, Scarborough, and Balmy Beaches. Installations will debut on February 15 and will stay open to the public through March 20. “Visitors will discover a feast of textures in the schemes—from vessels clad in charred wood to sailing rope to vintage furs,” Lisa Rochon, senior fellow of Global Cities Institute University of Toronto and a jury chair said in a press release. “Inventive, playful and irreverent, all of the installations can be read like pieces of poetry on the beach. “ The winning designs are: In the Belly of a Bear by Caitlind r.c Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee Three Calgary-based artists crafted this charred wood pod lined in thick, warm fur. Visitors are invited to climb in to get warm and enjoy the view from a round window. Floating Ropes by MUDO Described as a “rope forest,” Floating Ropes is a playful take on a permeable cube that visitors can crawl inside to reach a lifeguard chair with views of the lake. Sauna by FFLO (Claire Fernley and James Fox) Two U.K. landscape architects interpreted the “Thaw” theme literally with a tiered sauna. Transparent exterior walls allow glimpses of those within and solar powered lights illuminate it at night. Flow by Team Secret (Calvin Fung and Victor Huynh) Graduate students Fung and Huynh wanted to capture the “transitional moment between freeze and thaw.” They created digitally-fabricated 3-D stars through slot-fitting wood connections that can be easily reconfigured. For the student entries, teams from three schools participated: Lithoform by Remi Carreiro, Aris Peci, and Vincent Hui, Associate Professor, Ryerson University This structure was inspired by frost in the Lithosphere, the outer layer of the earth. The team created a polychromatic cavern around a lifeguard station. The Steam Canoe by OCADU. Toronto, Ontario Project team: Curtis Ho, Jungyun Lee, Monifa Onca Charles, Reila Park, Hamid Shahi, Lambert St‐Cyr, Jaewon Kim, Jason Wong and Mark Tholen, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Design, OCADU Evacuated solar tubes place at the rear of this “upside down” canoe are designed to melt snow into steam, which creates a halo of fog around the wooden structure. Aurora Borealis by Chris Baziw, Ra'anaa Brown, Trevor D'Orazio, Andrew Harkness, Matthew Hunter, Danielle Kastelein, and Terrance Galvin, Director of Architecture, Laurentian University. Surrounding a lifeguard station, this structure is created from fabric and LED lights on an aluminum and responds to body heat. When visitors touch the illuminated tubes, they change color. “The public participation in Winter's Station's inaugural year proves that even the most overlooked winterscapes can be injected with vibrancy and life," Ted Merrick, lead designer at landscape architecture firm Ferris + Associates said in the press release. "Our ultimate goal for year two remains the same—to encourage the community out of hibernation and back to the beach."
Molson Coors, the Canada-based beer brewing company has completed the construction of an hockey rink on top of a 32-story building in downtown Toronto as part of their #anythingforhockey campaign. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TST3BbW4-Us The mysterious rink was installed at 120 Adelaide St. W. in Toronto’s financial district over the last month and a half for an upcoming Molson beer commercial shoot. Building on last year’s #anythingforhockey event, which took hockey fanatics to a secluded rink on British Columbia’s Shamrock Lake high in the Rocky Mountains, hockey fans were asked to share what the sport means to them on social media. As with last year’s event, a handful of participants will be selected to play on the special rink. In a press release, Molson commented on how the rink is just the right size for a three on three game, which also happens to be the format for this year’s NHL All-Star game. https://youtu.be/cPzQl3l_D7Y Finished on January 10th, the rink is roughly one half the size of an NHL professional hockey rink. Like in the pros, the rink is has regulation height glass panels and netting surround the ice to prevent stray pucks from falling to the busy streets below. As for getting to the rink, new stairs were added to the building to provide access, but due to weight restrictions, only a limited number of people will be allowed up to the rink at any given time. Construction was accomplished with the help of cranes on neighboring building under construction, and some innovative ice and snow clearing solutions. As snow cannot be removed from the roof, the rink can be flooded with warm water to clear snow, and the ice itself when not in use. This technique is also used to smooth the ice, as a Zamboni machine is not practical for obvious reasons.
Toronto's ambitious plan for a linear garden under the Gardiner Expressway is made of 55 "outdoor rooms"
Toronto’s waterfront is separated from the city by the elevated Gardiner Expressway. While access underneath is relatively easy, it isn’t a pleasant transition. Torontonians, however, can expect some changes to their waterfront corridor as 10-acres of new public space and a mile of multi-use trail are being built under the highway. Project: Under Gardiner was designed by city planner and urban designer Ken Greenberg with Marc Ryan and Adam Nicklin of PUBLIC WORK, an urban design and landscape architecture studio in Toronto. The new park is slated to open in 2017. The scheme is strategically placed along a portion of the expressway that connects numerous destinations—including the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Fort York (an historic military site and museum), BMO fields, and the CNE fairgrounds—as well as a string of high-rise neighborhoods. The project is conceived as a series of 55 "outdoor rooms” formed by the structural bays of the Gardiner. While it is a continuous park, each section or “room” will have a distinct atmosphere and will lend itself to particular activities and programs, including gardens, art fairs, playgrounds, and public markets. In addition to multi-use park space, the project boasts a 1,640 foot connection to a prominent GO train station, a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over Fort York Boulevard, and an urban theater at Strachan Avenue to accommodate public programming and year-round performances. Like the High line in New York and The 606 in Chicago, Project: Under Gardiner uses existing conditions as a catalyst for new urban engagements, while also adding significant public space to an underused portion of the city. “The re-imagination of this stretch of vacant land under the Gardiner has the potential to connect 70,000 residents to a linear spine of diverse active and passive spaces and place,” explained Paul Bedford, Former Toronto Chief Planner. “It links our past with our future and establishes a totally new way for city hall to embrace transformative city building.”
On October 27th, the Vancouver City Council voted 5–4 to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, making space for housing, culture, and parks. The viaducts were part of a proposed freeway system through East Vancouver in 1971, until residents protested, and the project was abandoned. In June 2013, the city council made a unanimous vote to study the potential impact of removing the viaducts that connect the downtown to neighborhoods on the city’s East side. Since that unanimous vote, city staff consulted communities and studied traffic. Reports show the viaducts hold six-percent of trips to and from downtown, and it would cost $50 to $65 million to make the viaducts earthquake safe. Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a written statement, "There is no decision at the city that has been more scrutinized, studied, deliberated or consulted on than whether or not to remove the viaducts, and after four years, it is time to move forward." To compensate the loss, a four-lane, at-grade road will be built, adding only one to three minutes in vehicle travel time, while the available land becomes thirteen acres of park space. Also, two city blocks will be preserved for housing, providing 300 below-market units. Although the demolition will cost approximately $200 million, the city anticipates a surplus of $100 million by the time the project is complete in 2025. Previously, Toronto leaders voted to preserve their elevated downtown freeway, prioritizing commute time.
International firm Perkins+Will has unveiled plans for a new six story, 210,000 square foot scheme at the University of Toronto Mississauga in Ontario, Canada. The creatively named 'North Building Phase B' has a construction budget of $69 million and is due to be complete by the summer of 2018. The project will be home to six university departments: English & Drama, Historical Studies, Language Studies, Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology, featuring student lounges, study areas and dining space. Part of a wider scheme, it is the second installment of a three-phase program replacing a not-so-temporary structure that was the campus' first building, built in 1967. In terms of its impact on the vicinity, the building will complete a circle of public space that surrounds the campus green creating a more holistic and established area for academia and university life. Notable features of the design, which was granted after Perkins+Will won a two-stage competition, include a terraced atrium that is part of a multipurpose event space, numerous state-of-the-art Active Learning Classrooms, elevated roof gardens and terraces overlooking the campus green for students and staff. The firm has also employed a sustainability focused approach using solar shading and natural ventilation in tandem with clever siting and building orientation. This isn't the first time Perkins + Will has designed for the University of Toronto. The practice has built four other buildings on the university's campus.