Posts tagged with "Toronto":

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Michael Maltzan Architecture reveals variegated new dorms for the University of Toronto

The University of Toronto (UT) recently unveiled a proposal for the Harbord Residence, a 10-story graduate dorm building designed by Los Angeles-based firm Michael Maltzan Architecture, with local firm architectsAlliance serving as the architect of record, for the St. George campus north of Downtown Toronto. Currently pending approval from the University Council, the proposal would provide housing for over 200 graduate students as well as much-need social and study spaces for the 180-acre campus. “One of the things we wanted the architect to do for us was to have the ground plane be a more welcoming place for the broader community—for our neighbours and other U of T community members to come in,” said Anne Macdonald, the university’s assistant vice-president of ancillary services, according to a press statement. “As you go up the building, there are different levels of community-building, with shared spaces and private spaces upstairs.” The ground floor would contain a food court and retail space, while the upper floors would host common lounges, meeting spaces, and quiet study rooms which, according to the university, would be designed to accommodate group work. While clad in red brick to blend into its relatively squat surroundings (representing a rare deviation from the firm’s penchant for all-white facades), the Harbord Residence is also designed to stand out, most notably through the addition of a gestural window layout on its narrowest elevation that contrasts the overall rectilinear geometry. The building will be further integrated into the campus by physically sharing its amenities with those of The Graduate House, a neighboring dorm building completed by the Los Angeles-based Morphosis in 2000, via an underground pedestrian tunnel and a sky bridge on the third level. If approved, construction on the Harbord Residence would break ground this fall and be completed by the end of 2022. The firm was commissioned to design the dorm as a part of the university’s ‘Four Corners' strategy,’ which intends to add approximately 2,500 units of housing to the campus over the next 15 years.
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LAMAS builds practice through perspectives

The following interview was conducted as part of “Building Practice,” a professional elective course at Syracuse University School of Architecture taught by Molly Hunker and Kyle Miller, and now an AN interview series. On October 31, 2019, Anna Korneeva and Irmak Turanli, students at Syracuse University, interviewed Wei-Han Vivian Lee and James Macgillivray, principals of Toronto-based architecture office LAMAS. The following interview was edited by Kyle Miller and AN for clarity. Anna Korneeva and Irmak Turanli: After studying your projects and observing what you were working on with students while teaching here in Syracuse last year, we see a strong relationship between your practice, research, and teaching. How do you work across these three areas and how do they benefit each other? James Macgillivray: There is an economic relationship between practicing and teaching. I think people who teach and practice are more willing to take risks with competitions and even with private clients. You can present things that are more conceptual because you always know that it's not the only job. It's important to point out that this is a condition from which many of the practices you are interviewing benefit. It also creates opportunities to apply our academic research in our professional work from time to time, effectively allowing us to transcend simply providing a service. We can test design concepts in a client-based situation… if they don't land, they can be offloaded to our academic research. For example, at the beginning of Townships Farmhouse, the client was very interested in agricultural buildings, farmhouses, and barns. So, initially we had an academic response… we looked at the history of those building types and researched how they worked. Whether or not we apply that research is separate from the value the research has for us in an academic context. Wei-Han Vivian Lee: It’s also important to note that these three areas don't always overlap. We’re always doing research, and we try to inject that research into our professional projects as much as is possible. But practice is more often the outlier. There's a clearer alliance between our design research and the work our students produce in classes we teach. James: Beyond practice, research, and teaching exists our hobbies. Sometimes our hobbies inform these other three areas. Regarding hobbies… both of you have different interests and backgrounds. Vivian, we know you have a background in painting, and James, we know you’re interested in film. How are these hobbies and your unique backgrounds folded into your practice? Vivian: I studied Painting as an undergrad. My undergraduate thesis used painting as a medium to explore perspective construction methods in architectural representation. As projects come to us, there's a constellation of maybe four or five things we are interested in and looking to incorporate… whether it’s film, representation, or any number of other interests. To be honest, I'm not sure we even have a game plan when we start working on a project. Sometimes it’s liberating to know that we don’t have to force certain interests or aesthetic ambitions into each project. We let the defining features of each project emerge naturally and over time. James: And it can either be instrumental or a matter of taste. It can just be something that gives a certain style. Regarding my background, I did two theses on film. One was at the undergraduate level at Princeton, where I studied under P. Adams Sitney and Alessandra Ponte. Then I did another film thesis at Harvard with Preston Scott Cohen. Since then I've been writing academic research papers on film… not "operative criticism" but literally film history, film criticism, film technique, etc. I also completed a research and teaching fellowship at the University Michigan that featured film as a primary topic of interest. At that point, after I got it out of my system, we did a bunch of studios that were dealing with optical or "op" art and architecture. Op art was a way to address film as a method of engaging optical aspects of architecture… we were interested in exploring how architecture produces different effects as you walk around it, rather than simply look at it. This particular interest has found its way into more than a few of our projects. So, there are ways that my interest in film comes in, but mostly it's something that occupies my time in the background, something that we do in our spare time. We recently traveled to Greece to go to a film festival in the middle of the Peloponnese… Vivian: James also makes films… weird experimental films that are actually now mostly family films. James: But they don't screen anywhere. This reminds me of a show we’ve been watching recently. In "Terrace House," a Japanese reality TV show, there's a character Shohei who insists that he's going to be equally good at every single thing he does. So, he's a carpenter, an actor, a chef… and it drives the other members of the house crazy. They can't deal with the fact that he wants to do several different things at the same time. Sometimes we're like the character on “Terrace House,” which is not necessarily a good model to follow. To Vivian’s point about an intentional lack of overwhelming coherence across our work… either by circumstance or because of our personalities, the capital P, Project is not something that we were interested in pursuing. We tried, but every time we did a new rendering, we were interested in testing a different rendering style. We’re comfortable with a consistently evolving aesthetic and set of interests. Why did you decide to start your own firm? Was it an ambition, or was it born out of necessity or something else? Vivian: After graduate school we both thought we would work our way up in an office, and maybe become partner at whichever firms we were at. We started working together in 2008, and the recession did impact us. I actually quit my job at SHoP because I started another firm together with two female colleagues of mine. We had a lot of work in Williamsburg. This firm lasted for six or eight months, and then the recession hit… and that was the end of most of our commissioned projects. Around this time, Monica [Ponce de Leon] became Dean at the University of Michigan and she was looking to hire new lecturers at Michigan. Fortunately, I received an eight-month teaching contract at University of Michigan, thinking that I would move back to New York immediately afterwards. James continued working at Peter Gluck and Partners in New York through all of this. But long story short, the eight-month teaching contract gradually evolved into a tenure-track position. What I realized was that when you begin teaching, you can essentially be a graduate student again. You can initiate your own projects and start thinking about architecture from other vantage points that are not solely practice-based. So, the practice was, in part, born out of this realization. You are very experimental with tools of production. For example, the food cart for the Stop Night Market project experiments with a marble texture, where you were mixing liquids to achieve a marbling effect. In other projects, you’ve experimented with hydrographics and thatching. What is the inspiration and idea behind these handcrafted production techniques? How do they help you during the design process? Vivian: We've always been interested in things that are indeterminate or messy, where one can’t quite figure out the exact processes executed to accomplish the overall assembly. Having come from SHoP, I felt pretty versed in digital fabrication and thinking about the assembly of parts. When I started teaching, I was interested in revisiting vernacular oral traditions through the new lens of contemporary technology. I was very interested in materials reacting to control imposed from an external source. James: When we started working with hydrographics it was the first indication to us that the digital could be something that was not smooth and could have something in common with things like marbling and other processes that were indeterminate. Some of this was a reaction against the version of digital that we came up with. When we were in school it was during the first wave of digital technology being applied and mastered in practice. But there was no way into that digital work because it was so smooth. It evaded engagement by being completely worked out and completely seamless. We wanted something that was a little bit broken and appeared to have cracks in it. Vivian: I will add one more dimension to this. There was something really laborious about the way digital output was realized and made physical in the early 2000s… especially at the scale of temporary installations. While working at LTL and SHoP, I contributed to installation designs that were the assembly of many parts. The infinitely unique components in the digital environment simply made for an increasingly complex process of physical assembly. So, expediency is another thing that was interesting in relation to traditional crafts. As much as they're indeterminate, they're messy and fast. There's a relationship to labor that seems more interactive, rather than demanding the human laborer to act like a super precise, fast robot. We have a few questions about Townships Farmhouse. We know that the client for the house is an artist who paints the landscape around the site. How is it different to work with clients who are involved in art and architecture? Did her interests affect the concept and design of the house? Vivian: The client is an artist and her husband studied agriculture and is a farmer. She's also been collecting work produced by emerging Canadian artists. That commission was in part related to their interest in fostering young talent. James: The working relationship with the client was very, very good. It was a very unorthodox sequence of design in relation to how a project would typically develop. We went all-in on 100 percent schematic design for two schemes, which we developed to a significant degree of specification. It's much more than what we would do in schematic design now. Each scheme was represented through many drawings and a quarter-scale model. Through conversation around these two schemes we arrived at the configuration that was eventually built. Vivian: The reason there are two schemes is that she was very interested in a design that related to the context. The brief called for [the] design of either a farmhouse or a barn, two types of buildings that are very common in that area. Each scheme is our take on the barn or the farmhouse, both of which we conceptually reinvented. The barn scheme was built. We uncovered an old courtyard barn typology, and repurposed its form as a landscape and view framing device. Did you face any significant difficulties during the design or construction process of Townships Farmhouse? James:  In Quebec there’s an interesting situation where, in the middle of summer, at the peak of any kind of ability to build, they have a two-week construction holiday where all works seizes on all construction projects. So, in the most productive time they take two weeks off… even most engineering and architectural firms take those two weeks off. So, they found out a way to be more productive in winter and remain unburdened by weather. Vivian: The project had a very unique schedule. Over the course of almost two and a half years, we were doing design work in Revit. When it came time to build, we really understood every aspect of construction in great detail. The house had to be wheelchair accessible, and even the foundation was cast to make sure that all the different depths of finishes were completely flush. Everything was fully resolved prior to construction. The contractors were very helpful throughout the process and we had a very good working relationship with them, in part because we had such a complete drawing set and a long time to discuss everything with them. Nowadays, we're involved with a lot of projects that people want fast-tracked, and they don't want to decide on a contractor until after the bid process. In Townships Farmhouse, collaborating with the contractor early in the process made it easier for us to draw the project exactly as it would be built. What has been the most rewarding aspect of practicing architecture? Vivian: There is satisfaction in the relationship we have with our employees. They bring a lot of ideas to every design decision which really enhances the overall project. It is very rewarding to have the privilege of having employees.
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Canada’s tallest residential tower revealed for downtown Toronto

Hariri Pontarini Architects has revealed what’s set to become Canada’s tallest residential tower at just over 1,027 feet tall. Slated for downtown Toronto, the 95-story project—dubbed SkyTower—will be part of a three-tower luxury condo development called Pinnacle One Yonge. A thin, glass skyscraper protected by a crystal-like, faceted exoskeleton, Sky Tower will anchor the 4.4-million-square-foot waterfront site imagined by Canadian developer Pinnacle International. Hariri Pontarini conceived the masterplan and designed the trio of high-rise buildings that will define the lot. The first tower, the 65-story ‘Prestige,’ is currently under construction, while SkyTower, which was only just released to the public, will feature 800 units ranging from 520 square feet to 2,300 square feet and will begin its build-out soon. According to the architects, the mega-project is meant to “densify and enhance the urban streetscape.” Located just yards away from Toronto’s CN Tower, the high-rise development will dramatically change the skyline as viewed from Lake Ontario. One Yonge will be connected to a revamped public transit system and include improved pedestrian and cycling access via widened sidewalks, a 2.5-acre public park, and an inner courtyard set between the three buildings. At the base of SkyTower, The Prestige, and the future 80-story structure slated for the northern corner of the site, there will also be multi-level podiums connected by glass atriums, wide walkways, and international gathering spaces, per Hariri Pontarini. These areas will hold 160,000-square-feet of retail, a 50,000-square-foot community center, and a 250-room hotel. Across all of the towers, One Yonge will house over 2,200 condominiums and 1.5 million square feet of office space.  While SkyTower is vying for the title of Canada’s tallest residential complex, other projects set for various sites throughout the city are also gunning for major accolades. For example, Sidewalk Labs recently unveiled a digital model of what could become the world’s tallest tower made of timber. The company’s controversial Quayside development is supposed to be a high-tech neighborhood full of high-design, sustainable structures by firms like Snøhetta, Gensler, 3XN, Heatherwick Studios, and Michael Green Architecture, among others.  Last summer, Pelli Clarke Pelli announced its vision for a 4.3-million-square-foot megadevelopment comprised of four glassy towers and an urban park. The ground-up project is set to be built even closer to CN Tower in the adjacent Union Park and involves a slew of partners, including Adamson Associates and OJB Landscape Architecture. Hudson Yards’ very own Oxford Properties is spearheading the project.
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Sidewalk Labs unveils digital model for the world’s tallest timber tower

Sidewalk Labs, the architecture and urbanism spinoff of Google parent company Alphabet, has detailed a new model for designing tall timber towers on their Medium page. The “digital proof-of-concept,” designed in Revit and hosted in BIM 360, is called PMX (proto-model X), and is intended to show how a modular 35-story tower could be designed and built effectively and efficiently using almost exclusively timber. The Sidewalk Labs team went through eight design steps: Addressing site (the decision was to make the design site-agnostic), massing, structure, program, MEP, a passive house–like envelope, Ontario code compliance (likely to speed the process along when implementation in Quayside, Toronto), and ease of manufacture. The structure itself is perhaps what is most interesting about PMX—the design is pretty basic—which also is directly tied to its ability to be modularly fabricated, as well as allowing for the maximum amount of space for tenants. With timber being much lighter than concrete, winds became an issue during testing. The researchers found that because the building was as much as 2.5 times lighter as a traditional structure, lateral forces acted on it more like a typical 40- or 50-story building. However, Sidewalks Lab wanted to avoid a hybrid solution that added steel or concrete. A timber structural core, they reported, would have necessitated walls that were five feet thick. Since this was unfeasible given the difficulty to manufacture and the resultant loss of floor space, Sidewalk Labs instead chose to use a cross-brace frame exoskeleton, like those found on many supertall towers. Since the exoskeleton still left the building fairly susceptible to large swaying motions, the team opted to add a 70-ton steel tuned mass damper at the penthouse level. To create a design that was easy and affordable to manufacture offsite with CNC machines, the Sidewalk Labs team created an interlocking kit of parts, including a “floor cassette” which used wood panels, layers of acoustic padding and insulation, and space for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical infrastructure. To make the cassettes work, Sidewalk Labs designed a standardized grid for columns to plug into, which kept everything standardized for easy construction where sequence order becomes more or less irrelevant. The cassettes also feature stone wool, a fibrous structure of minerals, in place of concrete, and can be built in 25 steps. The envelope is also modular, and the standardized metal panel has 40 percent window coverage and space for a balcony can be slotted into. However, to offer more aesthetic possibilities, each building could also be “skinned” to produce various effects, some of which have been speculatively designed by Gensler, such as a faceted skin of waving forms. What this means for Sidewalk Labs’ contentious Toronto waterfront project, which past renderings included designs from Snøhetta and Heatherwick Studios, was not immediately clear. It may mean revisions to the proposed designs of the taller towers, of which renders were first released back in February 2019. Regardless of whether the research is implemented, the model demonstrates a future for building up with timber, providing more sustainable options than the common carbon-intensive glass and concrete construction. Cara Eckholm, associate director of development at Sidewalk Labs, clarified the divide when asked:
“The renderings in the MIDP were illustrative, and do not represent final project design. Similarly, the images posted in the PMX model blog post are used to demonstrate potential variations using different facade materials.”
For more on the latest in AEC technology and for information about the upcoming TECH+ conference, visit https://techplusexpo.com/events/la/
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80 Atlantic is Toronto’s first timber office building in generations

A look around Toronto’s seemingly innumerable construction sites tends to reveal building materials common to many North American cities: brick and stone, steel and glass, and of course, concrete. But a new mass timber office building in the Liberty Village neighborhood points in a different direction. Designed by Canadian firm Quadrangle for Hullmark Developments, with partner BentallGreenOak on behalf of Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, the five-story, 90,000-square-foot 80 Atlantic debuted this past fall as Toronto’s first wood-frame office building in over a century. Part of a larger commercial development near the King Street corridor a few blocks north of the Gardiner Expressway, 80 Atlantic’s underground parking garage, first floor, and core were built using conventional cast-in-place concrete. The upper four stories, including an uppermost mechanical level, were built with glue-laminated timber (GLT) columns and beams that support nail-laminated timber floors. The rectangular building’s street-fronting east and west facades feature an irregular grid pattern in stone and glass, while its longer north and south aspects are fully glazed to reveal and highlight the internal timber structure. This is the second Liberty Village building designed by Quadrangle for Hullmark, following the firm’s conversion of an adjacent historic warehouse structure, 60 Atlantic, into office and retail space. According to the designers, uncovering the original post-and-beam structure at 60 Atlantic inspired the idea for a mass timber neighbor, now newly legal thanks to a 2015 change in regional building codes that allows for mass timber structures of up to six stories. “We started to imagine a modern wood office building that took all of the best parts of the old post and beam building that we uncovered at 60 Atlantic and combine it with all the modern comforts of a 21st-century office building and started referring to that concept as post and beam 2.0,” Quadrangle’s Wayne McMillan said at Toronto’s recent Building Show. According to the development team, using mass timber for 80 Atlantic also offered an important point of aesthetic differentiation as well as environmental benefit. Made from layers of treated and glued wood, GLT is fire resistant and durable and is considered more sustainable than concrete or steel. As the building industry increasingly searched for ways to to reduce both embodied and emitted carbon, advocates of mass timber forms such as GLT and its closely-related cross-laminated timber point to environmental benefits including wood’s ability to sequester carbon while growing, and to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide generated in the construction process. While mass timber has garnered significant interest abroad, including for the U.K.’s recently approved, fully timber Eco Park Stadium by Zaha Hadid Architects, its adoption for large-scale buildings in North America has been slower. 80 Atlantic is only the second mass timber building to be approved in Toronto, following 728 Yonge Street. This may soon change, as Sidewalk Labs recently proposed an entirely timber smart city on the Toronto waterfront.
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Winter Stations 2020 is meant to draw Torontonians to the beach

Winners of the sixth annual Winter Stations Design Competition will once again grace the beaches of east Toronto beginning February 17. The three winning installations will be joined by a fourth from the local Centennial College. This year’s theme was Beyond the Five Senses, and organizers asked the 273 entrants to create freestanding pavilions that either engaged visitors’ senses and connection to the environment or distorted it. To that end, here are this year’s winners, which each aim to encourage visitors to explore and discuss an under-used section of Toronto in the winter. Kaleidoscope of the Senses, by Charlie Sutherland of Sutherland Hussey Harris (SUHUHA), reimagines the typical lifeguard chair as a carefully balanced sculpture. The horizontal bar laid across the structure’s center frames the horizon across the water, while the sounds of a bell, and the smells of aromatic oils are dispersed around the pavilion, engaging all five senses. Noodle Feed, by iheartblob, uses an accompanying augmented reality app to let visitors drop drawings, photos, and notes at the installation, transcending the physical world. Noodle Feed’s sinuous tubes will be made from rough, repurposed sailcloth, and passerby can rearrange the cushioned noodles to form different arrangements. Mirage, top, by Cristina Vega and Pablo Losa Fontangordo, is aptly named; the reflective yellow sphere either shows a bright rising sun diffusing light across the snow, or a setting red sun, depending on the angle one approaches it from. Only by actually getting close to the installation can one discern that it’s just a reflective disc. Finally, The Beach's Percussion Ensemble from Centennial College, will arrange three stacked wooden columns in a circle around a central steel drum. Graffiti artists will have free reign to decorate the piece, and visitors can play with the drum as wind from the nearby lake triggers the bells that will hang from each structure.
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Canadian architecture collaborative designs a low-power panel to integrate tech

A collaboration of Canadian companies led by Toronto’s WZMH Architects has developed an award-winning prefabricated panel that could make buildings smarter and more efficient.  The prefab Intelligent Structural Panels are made of two steel plates, just two inches apart, that sandwich connective tech and are arranged something like an enlarged microchip. Lighting, HVAC, elevators, security systems, fire safety systems, and all manner of sensors can be plugged into the panels, which, as the name suggests, would serve as a structural element—likely flooring—in the building process. The panels can be connected with one another, and the designers envision that the various parts all seamlessly communicate; sensors that determine occupancy and temperature could pass their data along to climate control or lighting systems, for example. Carrying both data and electricity via power-over-ethernet connections, as well as using low-voltage DC power, the panels are far less electricity-intensive than most current building systems and would do away with the need for numerous transformers demanded by AC power. Not only simplifying network and electric connectivity, WZMH estimates that the smart panels could bring the total amount of building materials down by approximately 10 percent. WZMH also believes that the panels could take advantage of the energy that would otherwise be wasted and feed it gradually into other systems, such as heating and cooling. The IoT-ready panels would be managed by building users through an app. While still in the prototype stage, the Intelligent Structural Panels are already getting noticed. In 2018, WZMH won the UPPlift True Disruptor Award from the France Canada Chamber of Commerce, and in 2019 won the 2019 Award of Excellence from the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards for the project. WZMH research and development head Hiram Boujaoude was also nominated as an Innovator of the Year at Autodesk’s AEC Excellence Awards.
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Facades+ Toronto will dive into the trends of North America's fastest growing construction market

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On October 11, The Architect's Newspaper is bringing Facades+ to Toronto for the first time to discuss the architectural trends and technology reshaping the city and region. Toronto's KPMB Architects, an architectural practice with a global reach, is co-chairing the conference. Panels for the morning symposium will discuss KPMB Architects' decades-long collaboration with Transsolar Klima Engineering, the proliferation of timber construction across Canada and specifically its university campuses, and the adaptive reuse of Ontario's architectural heritage. The second portion of the conference, which occurs in the afternoon, will extend the dialogue with intensive workshops. Participants for the conference symposium and workshops include the Canada Green Building Council, the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario, the College of Carpenters, Diamond Schmitt Architects, ERA Architects, Kirkor Architects & Planners, Maffeis Engineering, Moses Structural Engineers, MJMA, NADAAA, RDH, and UL. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper, KPMB's Director of Innovation Geoffrey Turnbull and Senior Associate David Constable, the conference co-chairs, discuss the theme of the symposium's first panel, "Dynamic Skins: A Conversation on Innovative Facades," an exploration of KPMB and Transsolar's use of double-glass facades. AN: KPMB & Transsolar’s collaboration began over a decade ago with the Manitoba Hydro Palace. Can you expand on the significance of the project, and how lessons learned from the collaboration were applied to future projects David Constable & Geoffrey Turnbull: Manitoba Hydro represented a turning point for KPMB in how the office approached sustainability, but more fundamentally, forced a re-think of the typical design process. This project demonstrated how building design and function may converge to become something greater than a sum of its parts. One of the first projects in North America to invest in a true IDP, or ‘Integrated Design Process’, the design team undertook a process with the client to bring all disciplines to the table at the very beginning of the project. Decisions were discussed and evaluated in detail with input from all disciplines, and the form and strategy for the project grew organically from that process. The first step in the integrated process was the development of a Project Charter, which became the guiding code against which all decisions were measured and validated. AN: How does the use of software inform Transsolar’s consulting during the design process? DC & GT: Transsolar has a high degree of in-house technical expertise in the physical sciences, as well as a deep well of experience on built projects. These capabilities, paired with advanced modeling tools, gives Transsolar a unique ability to develop strategies for projects from a first-principles perspective. As architects, this is transformative in terms of the possibilities that can arise from a collaboration with Transsolar. Where we would otherwise be limited to rules-of-thumb and best practices, working with Transsolar allows us to interrogate the particulars of a given project and derive solutions that are unique to that specific project. Manitoba Hydro Place is an excellent example of this… It’s not immediately obvious that, in a cold climate like Winnipeg, a glass office tower would make sense. By understanding the site, identifying what is unique about it (e.g. there is a very high degree of sunshine in Winnipeg for such a cold city), and then building a strategy around that, we were able to design a project that provides an exceptional degree of comfort for the occupants, a lot of natural daylight, and terrific views to the landscape, all while being one of the most energy-efficient buildings on the continent in a city with a seasonal temperature swing of 65 degrees. In addition, Transsolar uses Transys modeling software, which allows for robust, iterative testing of concepts at a small scale, allowing the team to quickly test assumptions and prove out specific relationships between building components. This process allows active components such as motorized operable windows and automated louver blind systems to be tested in a dynamic way. Elements such as wind, sun, and humidity can all be modeled and reviewed dynamically over the course of an entire year. AN: All of the projects to be discussed during "Dynamic Skins" possess double-glass facades. Can you elaborate on this feature and its merits? DC & GT: Ultimately, on any project where a double facade represents an optimal solution, this will be driven primarily by the desire to optimize the interior environment for occupants. These systems allow us to accomplish a host of optimizations that enhance comfort in the space: maximize daylighting while modulating glare, provide natural ventilation for a larger percentage of the year, minimize radiant asymmetries so that it’s comfortable to sit near the window in winter and summer, etc. Fundamentally the difference between a traditional facade and a double facade is this concept of static versus dynamic. Traditional facades are forced to implement one static condition throughout the entire course of the year. In a Canadian environment, this can represent a huge swing in conditions – temperature, radiance, wind, and humidity can all change radically and quickly. A double facade allows the building skin to become an active component in the life of a building. Windows and shading devices become active elements which remain in constant dialogue with both the interior and exterior environment and allow the building to adapt in real-time to its environment. Further information regarding Facades+ Toronto can be found here.
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Retail is getting reimagined with augmented reality

Retail is dead. Long live retail. With the ubiquity of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail has become more competitive. Good deals and low prices aren't enough to draw customers into stores anymore; today's customers are looking for experiences, according to developers and retail prognosticators. Canadian outdoor goods retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has teamed up with creative technology from Finger Food to offer an in-store—or in-home—experience that bridges the digital and the physical: augmented reality tent shopping.  "Retail has gone through significant disruption and it's only going to get faster," said David Labistour, CEO of MEC. The outdoor company sees this disruption as a unique opportunity for growth. MEC offers more tents than can fit in their stores. Rather than hanging excess tents from the ceiling, MEC asked Finger Food to develop an application that would allow customers using a phone, tablet, or AR/VR goggles to see and explore a full-scale, fully rendered (inside and out) 3D version of every single tent that MEC sells. What's special about this particular use of the increasingly common AR technology is the unprecedented level of detail Finger Food was able to achieve.   Finger Food create their ultra-realistic 3d models in an enormous room they call the holodeck — named after the high-tech virtual reality rooms in Star Trek. Using a proprietary photogrammetry rig and accompanying software, the company can take thousands of photos of any object to capture its geometries and textures at extremely high resolution. In addition to the realism, Finger Food's solution is distinguished by its speed—scanning an object requires less than an hour, compared to days that could be spent creating a 3D model from scratch—and the system has proven its capability to capture objects of any scale, from a pair of sunglasses to a semi-truck.  Their work for MEC isn't Finger Food's first foray into the retail space. The group has previously worked with Lowe's home improvement stores to develop two augmented reality apps. One lets users see what products look like in their homes—everything from accent tile to a six-burner stove—and easily make a purchase afterward. The other app guides users through Lowe's 1000,000-square-foot stores to find the exact products they're looking for; it also notifies employees when an item needs restocking.  Customers can currently use the AR application at MEC's flagship Toronto store, with a larger rollout planned. "We believe the future of the customer experience will be significantly changed through the integration of technology," said Labistour. If these technologies prove successful, the retail experience and store design could be changed as well. In a future with augmented reality and next-day delivery, less space may be needed in stores as fewer items would be kept on display and in stock.
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NADAAA's Daniels Building complements gothic design with concrete and glass

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Opened last spring on the periphery of the University of Toronto’s St. George Campus, the Daniels Building is an approximately 700,000-square-foot academic building for the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. The project entails a new three-story addition added onto a 19th Gothic Revival former theological school, clad in grey concrete panels and a glass curtain wall. Boston-based architectural practice NADAAA took the design lead for the redesign and collaborated with the Toronto-based architectural conservation experts ERA Architects. The site for the Daniels Building is enviable; the building is the sole structure within the Spadina Crescent traffic circle and is visible along both the North-South and East-West axis. The Gothic Revival structure was built in 1875 as a Presbyterian theological school and has since served as a military hospital, an insulin manufacturing plant, and a service facility for the university. The historic structure was built according to a U-shaped layout, and NADAAA's intervention was laid partially within the former courtyard.
  • Facade Manufacturer TAKTL Alumicor
  • Architect NADAAA Adamson Associates Architects (Architect of record)
  • Facade Installer GAGE Metal Cladding
  • Facade Consultant & Engineer Entuitive Corporation
  • Location Toronto, Canada
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Alumicor custom framing system
  • Products TAKTL UHPC panels SPA1
Besides being pressed against the new educational facility, the Gothic Revival design of the former theological school also serves as a stylistic point of reference for the extension. "Perhaps the greatest challenge of maintaining the Gothic heritage building," said NADAAA Associate Richard Lee, "has been the project's greatest opportunity; the spires and edges of the historic Spadina Crescent create the ideal foil for a contemporary box with a deep floor plate requiring natural light." The east and west elevations of the addition are clad with 230 narrow grey ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) panels with different levels of dilation and lift according to interior daylighting needs. As a result of their narrow width, the windows partially resemble the steeply pitched Gothic lancet window, while the visible creases between concrete panels allude to mortar joints found in traditional masonry construction. Additionally, the zigzag cornice that rings the entire addition mirrors the angular gable and dormer details found adjacent. Measurements of the UHPC panels range from 4'4" by 20", to 10'10" by 30". The panels are fastened to a steel subframe mounted to the primary structure by a series of concealed clips. Panels serving as vertical louvers are held at their base and top to allow for varying rotational angles. The project also featured a significant architectural restoration aspect due to the original building's general neglect over the last half-century. The 140-year-old windows across the exterior were replaced with newly fabricated wood windows designed to match the old ones. According to ERA Architects principal Andrew Pruss, "The masonry at the roofline and the roof itself were badly deteriorated, and so all roofing was replaced with roof details rebuilt and flashed to properly protect them. The building was cleaned with a low impact detergent method to preserve the brickwork." In contrast to the concrete-clad elevations and the cream-colored brick of the historic structure, the north facade of the new school is defined by a sweeping fritted glass curtain wall fitted with aluminum fins. Its corners lift upwards on either end to match the cornice line of the east and west elevations. One of the project's most striking features is visible from the north; a jagged roofline topped with aluminum that allows daylight to pour into the third-level design studio through rows of diagonal clerestories. The project has received numerous accolades from the AIANY, the Boston Society of Architects, and The Architect's Newspaper's Best of Design Awards. NADAAA Principal Katherine Faulkner will be delivering a presentation on the Daniels Building during the "Repurposing Historic Ontario: Innovative Approaches to Architectural Heritage" panel at Facades+ Toronto on October 11.
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Pelli Clarke Pelli's massive tower complex will transform the Toronto skyline

A 4.3-million-square-foot, multi-tower development by Pelli Clarke Pelli could reshape the Toronto skyline as it is expected to become the largest mixed-use project in the city. Located in Union Park in the shadow of CN Tower, the $3.5 billion complex will bring 3.3 million square feet of offices, 800 residential units, and 200,000 square feet of high-quality retail to the city. The Union Park complex is an arrangement of three glassy towers on podiums: two are designed as near-mirror images, and the third will include housing with units specifically designed for families. A featured amenity of that third tower will be the 8,5000-square-foot daycare facility. Eric Plesman, executive vice president of North America, Oxford Properties, said the project would bring, “tens of thousands of jobs to Toronto … [creating] a progressive new workplace and community for working and living.” The development also allows the developer the opportunity to construct an adjoining two-acre urban park over the extant Union Station Rail Corridor, in an aim to deliver public green space to downtown. Additionally, the podium levels will feature large office floor plates of an estimated 100,000 square feet each. The project team includes Adamson Associates as Architect of Record, OJB Landscape Architecture, and developers Oxford Properties Group. Oxford is no slouch to the ground-up neighborhood development game or decking over railyards, having partnered with developer Related Companies in 2010 to build the 26-acre Hudson Yards in Manhattan. The sprawling project is currently accepting community input before being submitted to the Toronto City Council for formal consideration.
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Sidewalk Labs unveils full Toronto waterfront master plan that's a timber-topia

The smart city is the king of go-to solutions for the problems that bedevil urban areas. At the moment, the concept—tech innovates those problems away!—is trending hard in Toronto thanks to the work of Sidewalk Labs, the Alphabet-owned company that dove face first into urban design a few years ago with a plan for a lakefront district in Ontario's capital. Now, that plan is a completed master plan, the foreground to any large development. The public got its first look at Sidewalk Labs' new neighborhoods yesterday when the company released a full run through of their finalized plans. Unlike New York's super-sleek Hudson Yards, a comparable "big development," there will be a forest's worth of wood buildings in this project.  The digital doorstopper runs 1,500 pages and is available here, but the basic premise is two new mega-developments, with the potential for more, will be built mostly from mass timber and kitted out with sensors and data collectors that will, its authors contend, make life more pleasant for Torontonians by providing affordable housing, non-car transit options, jobs, and economic development. The company will, for a substantial investment and cut of the profits, develop real estate, finance transit networks, provide management services to government, and deliver what it calls "advanced systems," the whiz-bang infrastructure that supports the building of Quayside and Villiers West. The computerized promise of better services has garnered a lot of attention. Trash-sweeping robots would displace nifty nabber trash grabbers. Sensors embedded in crosswalks could, for example, keep the walk sign on until a pedestrian is safely on the opposite curve. Google's business model relies on pawning off data advertisers, but in a media briefing, Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff claimed that the very valuable data Sidewalk Labs collects will be underpinned by the "strongest data and privacy regime for any urban data in the world." That protection was certainly absent for Google Nest Cam users, and government officials still have concerns over whether the company's policies will align with Canadian data security laws. Data gleaned in Toronto, Doctoroff noted, will be stored in a data bank and won't be shared with third parties without users' "explicit consent." While it's too soon to tell how that promise shakes out, there's plenty of information on the smart city's design and construction. Unlike 20th-century glass-and-steel corporate modernism that projected power and influence, Sidewalk Labs is turning to mass timber for 12 major buildings in the Quayside portion of the development. The showcase here is both structures by London's Heatherwick Studios, the eminent go-to firm for megadevelopers, and an $80 million vertical timber supply chain for those buildings that will extend from forests to an Ontario factory to fashionable city blocks. Doctoroff said his company is working with the Toronto buildings department to amend rules that cap timber building heights at six stories in order to build up to 30 stories tall. The developments will feature a standard of mixed-use towers, but about 70 percent of the project will be devoted to housing. Of these units, about 40 percent, or 1,700 units, will be rented below-market. "We expect to make money the way a normal real estate company would," said Doctoroff. Sidewalk Labs is investing over $680 million in what is projected to be a $2.9 billion development.  The credits list New York's Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) and Heatherwick Studio as the teams responsible for the master plan sketches and renderings, but Doctoroff said Canadian firms would be behind most of the projects to come. Along with Stantec, BBB gets top billing for design and engineering services, while Snøhetta who were tapped for design services back in February, is credited alongside Heatherwick and dozens of other firms for research and development.