Posted on June 7th, 2013
We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Tridel and Hines on the new project Aqualina at Bayside, which was recently unveiled as the centre of a major new masterplanned development on Toronto’s East Bayfront.
Aqualina at Bayside, Toronto.
The 13-storey condominium will feature family-sized units (some more than 2,100 square feet) and will occupy a portion of the 13-acre site that extends from Lower Jarvis street to Parliament Street, from Lakeshore Blvd to the lake.
You can see Waterfront Toronto’s plans for development along Lake Ontario, including the Central and East Bayfront, West Donlands, Lower Donlands and Port Lands at this link.
Some of the development in the area – including Sugar Beach, the Corus and George Brown buildings, and the wonderful water treatment park Sherbourne Common – is under construction or already complete, and we think that the Bayside project will go a long way toward ensuring a walkable, liveable lifestyle along the water.
A view of the entire planned Bayside development.
In addition to the residential building, the community will include commercial space as well as community recreation space, a significant amount of landscaped public park area at the centre of the development and green roof areas.
We are aiming for a LEED Platinum certification, which will make the project part of the city’s first LEED Gold neighbourhood development plan. Construction is anticipated to start in 2014.
Posted on February 8th, 2013
As more projects near completion across the GTA, city streets and neighbourhoods are quickly filling up with residential high and mid-rise buildings. In a very real way, we are beginning to see the results of the 2005 Ontario Places to Grow Act, which determined that the greenbelt’s valuable agricultural lands and natural systems be protected:
“The legislation responds to municipal and stakeholder calls for provincial leadership to address the negative effects of urban sprawl and encourage population growth where it is needed. It allows the government to designate geographic growth areas and work with local officials to develop growth plans that meet specific regional needs, while respecting the greenbelt.”
The Madison, Toronto.
The result is a need to use space within the designated areas, and that has meant intensification and the rise of urban nodes. In future, these nodes will be linked by transit, whether subway, dedicated high speed buses or light rail. Streets will become walkable, with retail, cafés, and other amenities for local residents.
It’s not always easy to envision how these developments might contribute to the community. We have seen examples of some big-box retail in building podiums, but the reality is that many podium tenants will contribute significantly to building and maintaining community in these areas.
We can reveal that several of our residential tower projects will be anchored by grocery stores like Loblaws (at the Madison) and Whole Foods (at Hullmark Centre) – food shopping is key in community building, and tenants are catering to that idea. Just look at the bustling new-style Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store in downtown Toronto, with its popular delicatessen eat-in or take away area.
In our project Cinema Tower on Adelaide Street West in downtown Toronto, the ground floor tenant will be the arts organization Artscape’s new performance and programming space. Several years ago, the forward-thinking organization embraced development by moving into Westside Gallery Lofts at 48 Abell St. near Queen Street and Gladstone Avenue with a gallery space and affordable live/work spaces for artists, which contributes significantly to the artistic integrity of the area.
But these kinds of tenants are only the beginning. Community centres–an essential lifestyle resource for families, students, recent immigrants– are also potential tenants for building podiums. Inviting these kinds of organizations into our new developments will go a long way to increasing the health of an area, particularly if they are conveniently accessible by foot, bike or public transit to surrounding neighbourhoods.
Schools also need to be easily accessible. As urban nodes intensify with townhouses suitable for families, the place to put schools, particularly for elementary children, is right in the heart of the community where parents can access them. It’s becoming more common, too, for churches to occupy less conventional stand-alone buildings. Like community centres, churches bring communities together.
In short, the way we experience Toronto’s urban fabric is changing. It may not be what we’re used to, but it’s evolving in all kinds of interesting and exciting ways.
Posted on November 7th, 2012
On November 28th, Cliff and I took part in a topical panel discussion at industry conference Construct Canada in Toronto.
Together with Ward 33 Councillor Shelley Carroll, we discussed the projects, policies and political process behind successful developments that bring together intensified residential living, public transit and walkable, community-oriented streetscapes.
Madison on Eglinton
The panel discussed how strong municipal plans and good use of existing infrastructure affects the success of intensification in downtown neighbourhoods. An example of unfortunate planning brought up by moderator Bert Archer was Peanut Plaza, in Don Mills.
Some important issues relating to this topic include outlining the characteristics of a good urban node; how the current transit situation impacts development; the key principles to consider when determining potential sites and how community elements such as schools and churches fit into urban intensification strategies.
Madison on Eglinton
Please have a look at this article in the North York Mirror, written by Toronto transit reporter Rahul Gupta on the discussion.
Posted on September 24th, 2012
I was interested to read an excellent recent article in the New York Times, written by architect Michael Graves, on the importance of hand drawing to architecture.
He comments, importantly, on the value of drawing by hand, in addition to on computer. “Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process…(they) express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands.”
At Kirkor we design highly complex projects, so programs like BIM and Revit are vital to what we do. But for my design team, when they get stuck, I always ask them to move away from the computer and pick up a pencil. Hand sketching helps to break whatever problem they are struggling with down into a simpler idea. It’s a more direct connection between mind/eye/hand than the computer. It gives them real tools that engage their imagination, because it’s a less limited, more open process of how to design.
Sketches of the evolving podium of Cinema Tower, Toronto.
The initial sketch is not random, or throwaway. It represents the architect’s vision. You need to keep testing that vision, and later on in the process, on the computer, you can see how much you’ve deviated–or not–from that original idea. So it helps to keep our designers on track. This process is demonstrated in the above sketches and the accompanying rendering of our project, Cinema Tower, which is currently under construction in Toronto.
Cinema Tower: sketch and under construction
Another example of this is our project Aristo at Avonshire. We were looking to find a starting point that would resonate with buyers, and ended up starting a sketch with the trademark plaid of the fashion brand Burberry. The building looks nothing like Burberry, but you can see echoes of the plaid in the polished look of the buildings, particularly the rooflines that were designed to extend the pattern into an unconventional feature.
Would that have come about without the initial vision, tested with pencil and paper? I don’t believe so.
Posted on August 10th, 2012
At last year’s world championships, Halifax kayaker Mark de Jonge helped Canada qualify for an entry to London’s Olympic games when he came 6th in the K1 200 m event. Mark then went on to claim a bronze at the London Olympic Games test event, and earlier this year won the 2012 Nelo Winter challenge in Portugal.
Canadian kayaker Mark de Jonge with silver medalist Adam van Koeverden and bronze medalist Mark Oldershaw.
Then, in April, he broke his finger, which sidelined him for quite some time. But in June, Mark took the last qualifying spot for the Canadian Olympic team. In that trial Mark’s time broke the international record by 0.176 seconds.
Kirkor Architects is delighted to sponsor Mark in his impressive endeavors. I have personally spent many hours on the water paddling in various disciplines (when not tied down to the office desk!) and I certainly recognize Mark’s achievements balancing work as an Intern Engineer at Stantec, and his energy and drive toward achieving his athletic goals in London.
We are proud to have helped alleviate any strain that Mark may have felt in regards to monetary support, allowing him to maintain the singular focus required in London and to achieve his ultimate goal.
Here’s an article from the Globe and Mail on de Jonge.
Go Mark go!
Posted on July 26th, 2012
Many fascinating and encouraging discussions took place at last week’s Innovation City.
The panel at The Innovation City at MaRS Discovery District, Toronto
The conference, which took place at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District, brought together thought leaders from across North America and Europe to discuss how 21st century megacities are being shaped.
I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel, The Metropolitan Neighborhood: Urban centers and local economies, alongside Vancouver-based real estate marketer Bob Rennie, Mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mandel, and Gothenburg, Sweden’s Carl-Johan Korsas, former CEO of Framtiden Housing Corporation.
The panel at The Innovation City at MaRS Discovery District
I articulated Kirkor’s position on city planning – that Smart Growth nodes must be developed around transit, allowing people to live, work, shop and play in communities in close proximity to where they live, reducing the need to rely on cars. This must be coupled with green spaces, pedestrian-friendly design and planning strategies.
Hullmark Centre, Sheppard and Yonge, Toronto
One theme of our discussion was the concern that the charming and unique elements that we all love downtown – the small, independent shops, the uniqueness of downtown living – can’t be forcefully designed into these new developments. We feel that these special elements will take care of themselves, popping up once residents move in and create their own communities. The main thing is to provide sustainable environments for people who may not be able to afford living downtown, or may not wish to.
The panel at The Innovation City at MaRS Discovery District
For instance, some cultures may prefer to live closer to already existing immigrant communities. Toronto’s Persian community is centered around Yonge and Finch, which is far from ‘downtown’ Toronto but much closer to the soon-to-be-completed urban node at Yonge and Sheppard, where our project Hullmark Centre is presently under construction.
Single women and retired couples also may prefer the close proximity to services and access to transit that these new uptown, ‘downtowns’ can provide. Click here and here to read more of my thoughts on this in a recent interview with the Toronto Star.
Posted on July 6th, 2012
We are delighted to announce that senior partner Clifford Korman will speak at The Innovation City, which takes place in Toronto on July 18 & 19, 2012. Cliff will speak as part of a panel titled ‘The Metropolitan Neighbourhood: Urban Centres and Local Economies’.
7171 Yonge Street, Markham
Joining Cliff on the panel will be Stephen Mandel, Mayor of the city of Edmonton; Vancouver’s Bob Rennie, president of Rennie Marketing Systems and Carl-Johan Korsas, former CEO of the Framtiden Housing Corporation in Goteberg, Sweden.
The panelists will discuss the new approaches to urban planning that are called for in the era of mega-cities, in which multiple downtowns are increasingly common. Cliff will focus on numerous examples of our large-scale, mixed-use, transit-focused developments at the nodes that are shaping urban centres around the GTA: Mississauga, Markham and Vaughan, among others.
They will also examine the building codes, land-use policies and other attributes that will promote livability, sustainability and economic growth in a 21st century metropolis.
7171 Yonge Street, Markham
The Innovation City is a partnership between former journalist Miro Cernetig and Marc Andrew, and the MaRS Discovery Centre, which brings together leaders who are creating solutions that will improve our urban centres.
JOIN US at this two-day conference, where speakers will examine issues including new ‘Catalyst Cities’; cities as hubs for public and private investment; how local economies can thrive in new urban centres; the impact of research and innovation on economies; why sustainability matters from a business perspective and the importance of culture to growing economies.
For more information on the agenda and speakers, and to register now, click here
Posted on June 18th, 2012
With all the construction cranes currently up in the Greater Toronto Area, more attention is being given to ‘downtowns’ outside the central core. There are three of these urban nodes in development, in relatively close proximity, that will redefine life in the north of the city.
The Madison, at Yonge and Eglinton, Toronto.
Urban nodes are smartly designed, transit-accessible, pedestrian friendly areas that contain a mix of building types. The neighbourhood of Yonge and Eglinton, one of the city’s early nodes, is an established area with single-family homes centered around a major subway and bus terminus. Now with the Eglinton LRT under construction and the redevelopment of the Yonge Eglinton Centre, the area will be able to support more inhabitants. A few condominiums have already gone up nearby, and our award-winning project, Madison on Eglinton, which is currently being built, will follow suit. It’s located east of Yonge and will, importantly, incorporate a Loblaws store in its base.
Hullmark Centre, Sheppard and Yonge, Toronto.
Directly north of Yonge and Eglinton, the corner of Yonge and Sheppard is being redeveloped and intensified. What was formerly a barren landscape will be filled in with Hullmark Centre our large-scale, mixed-use project at the south east corner that will be the new heart of North York City Centre, with a significant urban plaza surrounding retail including a Whole Foods store. The project is set above two subway lines and includes accessible green roofs and tree-lined streets to encourage pedestrian traffic. Designing this project, with all the stakeholders (gas and hydro, TTC and others) has been extremely complex. But it will provide essential infrastructure for the surrounding condominium projects, including Emerald Park by Bazis developers and the 88 condos by Minto.
21 Clairtrell, at Sheppard and Bayview.
Moving east, along Sheppard to Bayview, is yet another new neighbourhood. Overseen by the elegant ARC condo above the subway, the corner will also see Jade Condos, a nearly completed low-rise project, as well as the more traditional mid-rise development 21 Clairtrell nearby. The adjacent Bayview Village has a large Loblaws store, an O&B Cafe Grill and Chef Claudio Aprile’s upcoming stand-alone new restaurant, Origin North. It is significant that the area is home to a number of types of residential, from high and low rise condominiums, to large, single-family homes and retirement residences.
These emerging neighbourhoods exemplify the changing face of the suburbs. No longer the victim of unplanned sprawl, these areas are developing into rich and diverse living spaces that will become important communities unto themselves. The next step is to link the nodes by encouraging development along arteries and ensuring appropriate transit between them.
Posted on May 8th, 2012
Kirkor’s innagural Junior Jane’s Walk took place last Saturday May 5th. Once again the walk turned out to be a fun event while also proving insightful for those interested in the past and future of urban development in Toronto. The annual walk celebrates the ideas and philosophy of urbanist Jane Jacobs.
Photos: Yvonne Bambrick
For Kirkor, this year’s walk took on a more playful approach offering one of the city’s only Junior Jane’s Walks. Participating children were outfitted with a loot bag consisting of a pair of Jane Jacobs eyeglasses, a sketchbook, coloured pencils, a disposable camera, a set of googly eyes, and an interactive route map.
The walk was led by Kirkor architect David Butterworth (and his friendly puppet Eddie who kept the kids smiling and entertained). David prompted the children and parents alike to think about how they interact within an urban space and how different spheres of public and private life shape the way people live. Even some of the younger kids answered questions like how the purpose of a home differed from a space of business or public space. David focused on the important values of parks, play, and public space within a community. The kids were encouraged to use their cameras to take pictures of inspiring architecture and spaces throughout the walk.
The tour started behind one of Toronto’s oldest landmarks, the Flatiron building in Berczy Park and continued through Brookfield Place displaying some of Santiago Calatrava’s brilliant architecture. David prompted the kids to question what the soaring arches made them think of: some popular responses included a train station, a bridge, palm trees, and a cave. The tour continued past The Hockey Hall of Fame, through Toronto’s PATH (the world’s largest underground path system – a full 28 kilometres!) to the Fairmont Royal York and concluded at Roy Thompson Hall.
Perhaps the most memorable moment was at Toronto Dominion Centre Plaza where the children exuberantly ran towards Canadian artist Joe Fafard’s cow sculptures. The seven life-sized bronze cows lazing in a grass square next to Mies van der Rohe’s minimalist towers are referred to “The Pasture”. The kids really took a liking to the sculptures – riding, sliding, and jumping all over them.
We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came out Saturday and participated in the Junior Jane’s Walk, helping to make the event a big success! Our work is just beginning with our Junior Walk, and we will be working closely with Jane’s Walk over the course of the year to not only improve next year’s walk, but to expand the concept of bringing urban design right into our schools.
Stay tuned !
Posted on April 23rd, 2012
On Saturday, May 5, I will lead a Jane’s Walk for children ages 5 – 12 around Toronto’s financial district.
Brookfield Place, photo: Ansgar Walk
This will be our second Jane’s Walk – the first one was led by Cliff up at Sheppard and Yonge Streets, where our development Hullmark Centre is under construction.
Jane’s Walk is a series of free public walks around cities, over one weekend each year that celebrates the ideas and legacy of urbanist Jane Jacobs, who was a champion of walkable neighbourhoods. She wrote a highly-regarded and pioneering book, The Death and Life of American Cities which was a critique of modernist planning principles. Instead, it championed healthy urban neighbourhoods and ways to achieve them, including density, urban renewal and pedestrian friendliness.
Toronto's Flatiron building
Our Jane’s Walk will involve fun activities for kids that encourage them to look around and think about the architecture and planning en route from Berczy Park to the Royal York Hotel (completed in 1929), to Santiago Calatrava’s stunning Allen Lambert Galleria at Brookfield Place and finally over to Pecaut Square at Metro Hall.
There will be assistants to help with the kids and provide additional information to parents if necessary. There are also washrooms and cafes at various points along the route.
I hope you will join us!