Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
With close to 6 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, Toronto is the largest city in Canada. The city is located on the north-western edge of Lake Ontario. During the 19th century the city’s low-rise urban growth to the north, east and west was rapid. During this time Queen’s Park and the Horticultural Gardens were established which together with the harbour to the south and deep ravines to the north, became defining elements for the limits of the central business district and the tall buildings which would eventually define it.
Bloor Street has played a significant role in the identity and organisation of the city. It is a major east-west axis which defines the northern edge of the downtown area and hosts one of the best-known shopping areas in Toronto. Its intersection with Bay Street – the location of this project – is a strategic site within the city. It is at the heart of a new cluster of buildings which will echo the tallest buildings in the city surrounding the intersection of Bay Street and King Street. The western edge of the site adjoins an existing sixteen-storey building which is due to be developed in the near future. The current proposal for its development includes a new sixteen-storey base with a 265-metre tall residential tower.
The site is a logical location for a tall building given its importance within the greater city structure and within its local context. With a 3:1 ratio in the north-south orientation with three frontages, a simple extrusion of the site footprint results in an elegant, well-proportioned tower volume. A linear core at the western façade is proposed which maximises the usable area of the floorplate, the aspect over Bay Street to the east, and simultaneously provides privacy from any adjacent development to the west. In addition, it activates all three frontages at ground level.
The building contains a variety of program including retail, offices, condominiums and restaurants. It was therefore important to develop an expression which was not specific to one building typology or program. The proposal is a layered expression of the vertical structural elements, interior glazing (thermal envelope), exterior timber roller shades and an outer layer of transparent, open jointed glass. The effect is a building which at times appears transparent and expressive – revealing the scale and activity within the building; and at other times, the reflective outer layer of glass gives the building an abstract quality, emphasizing its dramatic proportion.
Providing diversity in the proposed program is an important component of the building’s approach to sustainability and enhancing the vibrancy of the local community. The first sixteen floors will replace the existing retail, office and technical functions. A private amenities level will separate these functions from the condominium levels above. The condominiums are characterized by generous daylight through the floor to ceiling operable windows which provide natural ventilation. Additionally, external shutters allow each individual user to regulate the daylight and heat load into the apartment according to their wishes. A large restaurant, sky lounge and rentable spaces occupy the highest three floors of the building with spectacular panoramic views over the city of Toronto.
The façade plays an important role in the building’s identity, both as an individual piece of architecture and in the overall context of the city. It has a functional role in providing the thermal performance and contributes to the sustainable qualities of the building through shading and ventilation. The tower’s façade has dual qualities, reading as both an abstract volume but also appearing transparent at times, expressing the diversity of the program within.