Two new developments in the Toronto waterfront revitalization announced

1) MVVA selected as design lead for York Quay project

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has been selected to lead the transformation of York Quay based in part on their innovative proposal to design an underground parking garage that is an enticing part of the urban experience rather than a grim, unwelcoming and disorienting piece of infrastructure.


Selected from among 15 submissions during a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process, MVVA was chosen to lead the design of the York Quay Revitalization Project (phase two) for Waterfront Toronto and Harbourfront Centre. Plans for this prime waterfront location in the heart of Harbourfront Centre, include replacing the 1.4 hectare surface parking lot currently on the site with an underground parking garage that includes qualities of the outdoors such as sunlight, air, water and plantings as part of its design.


This important piece of parking infrastructure will free up the surface area for future public space and a thriving cultural/retail village. The underground garage imagined by the MVVA team will create a space where sunlight and air are directed from above grade down into the garage through openings, as well as innovative uses of glass and lighting. There may also be opportunities for integrated sustainable technologies, such as the reuse of collected rain water for a summer fountain or winter ice display.


In addition to the underground parking garage, phase two work will also include the planning and design of the overall York Quay cultural/retail village site and any necessary applications and zoning amendments, as well as the design and construction of a waterfront plaza called Canada Square and interim treatments for the remainder of the site.


MVVA has put together an impressive team to work on the project including designer/artist James Carpenter, winner of the 2004 MacArthur Grant for his work with glass and reflected light, and three-time winner of the prestigious Presidential Design Award, Beyer Blinder Beller architects. The team will be supported by Toronto engineering firm, ARUP and GHK International for zoning and planning approvals.


With the RFP process now complete, phase two work will move forward quickly as the team begins with conceptual/preliminary design work, followed by schematic/detailed design early next winter. An accelerated project timeline will ensure that the parking garage is completed by spring 2011. Phase one of the project, completed by Waterfront Toronto and Harbourfront Centre in 2006, improved public access to the lake around York and John Quays by including a widened promenade, the addition of a five-metre wide wooden boardwalk at the water’s edge and two 60-metre finger piers.


2) Toronto City Council approves sale of waterfront land for first private development in East Bayfront neighbourhood


Toronto City Council has approved the sale of a parcel of waterfront land to the Great Gulf Group of Companies for the first private sector development in the emerging East Bayfront neighbourhood. The agreements for the Parkside site were brought to City Council on the recommendation of Waterfront Toronto following a competitive two-stage bidding process.


Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, Parkside will be a premier residential and commercial complex within Waterfront Toronto’s new waterfront community of East Bayfront. Ultimately, the project is expected to deliver a $200 million private sector investment in the community. In addition to Moshe Safdie and Associates, the project design team includes: Quadrangle Architects Limited, Janet Rosenberg + Associates Landscape Architects, and Cecconi Simone Inc.


The building will be a 120-metre high (approximately 36-storey) tower anchored by a 38-metre high podium and will extend from Queens Quay in the south to Lake Shore Boulevard in the north. In addition to plant-covered roofs and residential units, the development will feature ground floor retail, a daycare centre and potential office and cultural space. It will also be the first residential project by Safdie in Canada since his landmark Habitat ’67 in Montreal. Facing Sherbourne Park, which is scheduled to open in summer 2010, the Parkside site is bounded by Lower Sherbourne Street in the west, Bonnycastle Street in the east, Queens Quay East in the south and Lake Shore Boulevard in the north.

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