May 29, 2013

Proposed North Toronto Mixed Use Development


In this proposed North Toronto mixed-use development of particular interest is Chinguacousy park to the North and its connecting trail directly to the west of the site. The remaining area is surrounded by a more suburban context of slab towers surrounded by parking with no particular street dynamics. Further to the West is a transit and retail hub. There is no doubt that due to its neighbouring context, the visibility of this development from the park and its associated trails, and its proximity to the downtown and Queen street arterial, particular emphasis should be put on the architectural statement of the towers and their relationship to grade. With any development of this scale and height, careful consideration of shadow impact on the park and neighbouring residences should be considered.

Built Form:

The final site typology will consist of Tower – Podium Forms made up of three mixed-use towers, podiums with retail at the base, and one amenity building. They will be organized around the site to ensure optimal views and light penetration. The configuration aligns the podium and retail facades along the public streets to reinforce the external boundaries of the site grounding the project in a more urban form. Architecturally, the ground related retail will be five meters in height and predominantly glazed, displaying a high degree of permeability and interest to the public. The retail is set back from the upper podium façade by 1.8 meters to allow for pedestrian weather protection. A small number of street related parking spaces are located off Kings Crossroad to support convenient access to that grade related retail.

Because of the large scale aspect of the site, there is an opportunity to provide landscaped spaces with a significant impact on the public realm. These landscaped open spaces will provide permeability to help animate the internal public courtyard. They will be privately owned and publicly accessible open spaces that will contribute positively to support the retail and the overall development. The open spaces are connected to the city fabric and to the public park and park trails. The open spaces are lined with active elements such as retail, restaurants with outdoor seating, a modern fitness facility, and grade-related residential. The open spaces will have sightlines and physical connections to the park, access to retail and residential entrances, and will contribute to the overall pedestrian safety and comfort. The materials used will be of a high quality comparable to the overall development.

The towers themselves should create an enviable address for Brampton and the GTA at large. Being the tallest development in the city, a great deal of emphasis will be put on the design of the towers. The objective of this proposal is to develop a dynamic set of organic building forms that range in floor plate size, with the average being 750 square meters. The forms should be memorable and distinctive on their own and in composition with each other, particularly from what is an otherwise suburban context of slab buildings. We propose that the towers have a green wall element that figuratively integrates the neighbouring parks into the building form. The balconies represent an important component that defines the overall form. As such, the materiality of the guardrail is important to reinforce that form. We propose using a fritted or frosted white glass to maintain that definition. The podium base, on the other hand, will be more articulated, using solids and voids to differentiate it from the tower and reduce the scale to a more human level. Helping define the park edge will be a series of three-story townhouses with an architectural rhythm defining each individually from each other. They will be elevated from grade with private terraces and landscaping to help define the public and private realm.

The placement of the point towers is such that they range from 25, 38 and 80 meters of spatial separation between buildings. The buildings are also staggered from each other providing maximum light penetration into the site as well as contributing to privacy and views for the residents of the towers. To protect the grade-related environment, the towers are set back from the podium to mitigate downward wind flows ensuring comfortable wind conditions at grade. The six-storey podium also appropriately scales the development down to the street.

Phase One:

The first tower will be the signature tower iconic in form and height. This 60-storey tower will anchor the corner of Kensington Road and Kings Cross Road. The tower will grow from a six-storey podium base, which contains retail at grade and two floors of office above the retail. Entrances to the residential, office and retail will be articulated with canopies. Above the retail will be an additional three floors of residential. On the West side of the phase one site, overlooking the public park, is an additional pedestrian pathway aligned with three-storey townhouses accessed from the path or internally from the tower. They are slightly elevated from grade to define private and public realms. Access to the tower will be from a newly created “boulevard” roadway appropriate in scale for a tower of this height and significance. This road will also be the new entrance to the site should the remaining phases not be constructed. Parking for phase one will all be below grade with access off the internal road located in a concealed fashion such as to not detract from the entrance.

Phase Two:

The phase two development will be constructed where the existing fitness facility is located. The second tower in the development will scale down in height from phase one. We propose it to be 40 floors in height with a four-storey base, including a continuation of the townhouses from phase one. Vehicular access to phase two will be from the newly created boulevard from phase one. Access to the below-grade parking will be adjacent to phase one and will eventually be used for phase three as well. Loading similar to phase one will be concealed from the public and will also be located adjacent to phase one loading. The strategy behind the loading and vehicular access to phases one and two is to consolidate them to minimize the interruptions with the public realm.

Phase Three:

The final phase of the development will be phase three. Once the third phase is completed it will create the internal courtyard of the overall development. It will consist of the lowest tower, 30 floors with a terraced podium ranging from six to eight floors. Vehicular access to below-grade parking will be shared with Phase 2, however pedestrian drop-off will be at grade adjacent to the lobby entrance. The remaining retail components will be built in this phase.

Also as part of the final phase, the 30,000 square feet fitness facility will be built at the southwest corner of the development. Its location is critical to receiving maximum daylight throughout the day, having a visual connection to and from the park, and acting similar to an anchor tenant, drawing the residents into the site and acting as a visual and social focal point from within the courtyard or the neighbouring park.