Refinements for Toronto’s King Street West Project Revealed

Great Gulf, Westdale Properties and Dream Unlimited showcased the refined designs of the Gehry Project. The latest refinements to the design maintain both the height and density that were approved in a 2017 zoning by-law amendment.

Specifically, the latest changes adjust the organization of the towers on the site, enhance the podiums and optimize the floor plates of both towers to offer stunning views from each vantage point in the buildings.

Sora, courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP

“This will be the most talked about mixed-use development in the history of Toronto and we’re thrilled to meet with the public to  share the design updates of an unprecedented architectural project,” says Mitchell Cohen, Chief Operating Officer, Westdale Properties. “This project represents a coming home for Frank Gehry to the city he loves and will be one of his most significant architectural achievements. He is the heart and soul of the project and it has been an honour working with him and his team. We’re excited to be progressing in our goal to execute Frank’s vision for the development  of such an important site in downtown Toronto.”

The most recognizable refinement is the redesigned  exterior building envelope  which will make the project  an instant landmark. The Gehry-designed buildings will be clad in a variety of energy-efficient materials and feature a unique textured metal and glass façade. The design provides for ever-changing vistas of the buildings depending on one’s vantage point while continually providing a differing reflection of Toronto’s skyline.

“With this project, I wanted to create an ensemble of buildings that were respectful to the city and referential to the Toronto that I once knew,” says Frank Gehry. “I wanted the two towers to each have their own personality, but I also wanted them to talk to each other, creating a dynamic and changing addition to the skyline depending where you were viewing them from in the city. The detailing of the exterior is intended to give the buildings a human scale and hopefully reflect the light and colour from the city and the sky around it. In the end, this should be a building of Toronto that I hope will make the city proud.”

Sora, courtesy of Gehry Partners, LLP

Upon completion, the west tower will be the tallest Gehry-designed building in the world, according to the developers. This true mixed-use development will include new space for OCAD University as well as commercial, retail and residential spaces.

The changes to the podium incorporate the façade of the heritage Anderson Building which was built in 1915, while respecting the views of both the Royal Alexandra Theatre and the Princess of Wales Theatre, which bookend the project.

A cultural corridor along Ed Mirvish Way will serve as a gateway to the site and a hub of public activity for the King Street West neighbourhood, the Entertainment District and beyond. The intersection will become Toronto’s centre for arts, culture and theatre.

“OCAD University is excited about the Gehry-designed project, which will offer our students and faculty enhanced learning and research spaces while providing opportunities to collaborate with the community on a wide variety of art, design and media initiatives,” says Ana Serrano, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “We see tremendous opportunities for collaboration with Great Gulf, Westdale and Dream as this project becomes a reality. With its close proximity to both OCAD University and TIFF, and situated within Toronto’s Entertainment District, this project is poised to become a cultural hub within the city, offering opportunities to showcase the talent of the next generation of artists, designers and developers.”

Cohen states the latest design refinements reflect a collaborative, ongoing partnership with the City. “In many ways, the ownership group sees itself as the stewards of a project that is being developed on behalf of the City and the people of Toronto. There are multiple vested interests in this development and that is reflected in the successful outcomes thus far. Now more than ever, we remain committed to investing in downtown Toronto and delivering a project that the city and country can be proud of,” says Cohen.

The latest design updates include some variances that reflect the changes to the massing and design intent for the project. As a next step, these variances will be brought to the Committee of Adjustment for approval. A package was submitted to the City in December for review.

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