A “milestone day in the effort to revitalise Toronto’s waterfront”, according to John Campbell, President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto, as the design for the Parkside development was unveiled. Although the item was held in Council earlier in the day and an initial press conference with the architect and Mayor Miller was cancelled, the design is expected to be approved by the end of the current session.
The mixed-use development, designed by internationally-renowned architect, Moshe Safdie, with developer Great Gulf Group, will be a premier residential and commercial building of approximately 36-storeys, rising from a 38-metre high podium base. It will also be the first private sector development in the East Bayfront neighbourhood . Sitting at the bottom of Lower Sherbourne Street, facing Sherbourne park, the tower will extend from Queens Quay, to the South, to Lake Shore Boulevard, to the North. The new building will join the future Corus Entertainment headquarters and the new George Brown College’s Centre for Health Sciences in the first stages of this large scale redevelopment plan.
“The vision for the project”, according to Safdie, “is ‘gardens in the sky’,” who has incorporated various levels of roof gardens and terraces into the scheme. By using a traditional masonry frame, which allows for both recessed glass and areas of floor to ceiling glass, Safdie has been able to maintain a sense of transparency, which he feels many all-glass buildings can lack. While the building has physical transparency, it has also been designed with conceptual transparency in mind, by enabling local residents, workers and visitors to pass through the building and connect to Sherbourne Park, Lake Shore Boulevard or Queens Quay, using walkways in and around the development. This sense of openness is intended to promote a sustainable and liveable community, in combination with ground floor retail, which will run along the edge facing Sherbourne Park.
Safdie says that, for him, ” ‘wow’ is not a criteria for excellence” and believes the profession of architecture is “suffering from capricious and arbitrary wows.” Rather, for his design the first criteria was “What is [the building] offering to those that live in it and what is it offering the City in terms of contributing to the public realm.” His objective is simply, “to create a wonderful environment.”
This is Safdie’s second residential building in Canada (the first being the famous Habitat ’67, his innovative housing scheme from Expo ’67), and second building in Toronto (his first was the expansion of Lester B. Pearson Airport) , although, as he points out, “not that I haven’t tried a few times.” The project design team for the Parkside development also includes Les Klein and Sheldon Levitt of Quadrangle Architects Ltd, Janet Rosenberg of Janet Rosenberg + Associates Landscape Design and Anna Simone of Cecconi Simone Inc.
Images by Moshe Safdie and Associates Inc.