We are delighted to announce that Kirkor Architects has won an award in the category of Places to Grow Community of the Year-Highrise, at the 2011 Bild Awards. As the project’s architect, Kirkor was recognized alongside Liberty Development Corporation, Montana Steele Advertising and Brandon Communications. The winning project was the mixed-use development The World on Yonge.
The World on Yonge.
The Bild awards are presented annually by the Building Industry and Land Development Association, to recognize the very best of the GTA’s new home construction industry. This year there were over one thousand submissions in 46 categories.
This award is so-called because it recognizes a development that is most reflective of the province’s Places to Grow Act, which, according to the government “makes sure that growth plans reflect the needs, strengths and opportunities of the communities involved, and promotes growth that balances the needs of the economy with the environment.”
The World on Yonge.
High density, smart growth projects are vital in areas around transit corridors and proposed subway extension routes. The World on Yonge, on Toronto’s Yonge Street north of Steeles Avenue includes hotel, office, residential and retail with internal and external publicly accessible parks.
For more information on the awards, click here
Back in November, Councilor Karen Stintz (Ward 16 Eglinton/Lawrence) who had just been appointed by
Mayor Rob Ford to lead the Toronto Transit Commission, declared that she was in favour of bringing additional skills from members of the business community to be part of the commission.
Councilor Karen Stintz. Image: thestar.com
“We need different skill sets beyond just political skills. This is an opportunity for us to expand the competency on the commission,” she said in the National Post.
A staff report said that candidates should have legal, financial, engineering and construction knowledge, in addition to transit planning experience.
This idea is a good one. Previously, nine councilors oversaw the TTC but opening it up to those of us with relevant experience will create an arena for more relevant and focused discussion and problem solving opportunities.
Bloor subway station at rush hour. Image: cbc.ca
At Kirkor we deal with the TTC in numerous capacities, mainly when we are working through the infrastructure challenges that go with building large-scale projects over existing or upcoming transit stations. One of the greatest challenges when working with multiple parties is to build consensus, and I very much look forward to a future when this becomes a more fluid process.
Our project Hullmark Centre, at Sheppard and Yonge will sit above two subway lines.
Given that many of the city’s new smart-growth projects are centered around transit nodes, it’s important that the GTA moves ahead with a comprehensive, intelligent approach to transit. My hope is that the new board will help achieve this. The decision will be made in the fall, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, Councilor Stintz spoke at the Economic Club of Canada a few weeks ago. Judging from the reports on her improvement plans, the TTC will benefit considerably from input from citizen representatives.
Smart growth and urban intensification strategies may employ similar principles across many projects, but it’s vital to ensure that each project is carefully considered in terms of its individual site.
A detail of Celsius, showing the townhomes.
Not only must we ensure that we address the concerns of local residents and community groups, but also because higher density projects in previously lower density areas naturally attract more activity to an area, it’s important that the existing infrastructure be able to support it.
Whether at a significant intersection above a transit node, along a major corridor like Sheppard Avenue, or at the edge of a residential neighbourhood, the building design must respond to the site and must anticipate the site’s future needs.
An aerial view of Celsius.
One particularly challenging site was our Celsius project, which is situated between an established neighbourhood and the high density of Yonge Street. While we felt the site could handle a tower, we needed to remain sensitive to the surrounding area, so the project became a transition exercise from low to high density.
We achieved this through massing according to height and density with the tower placed strategically at the South East corner of the site, between two neighbouring towers while maintaining an anchor to much needed open space. The low is therefore on the low side and the high on the high side. Most sites are now like this, but this one was particularly stringent. So the townhomes, which surround the tower, function as a three-storey buffer between the tower, which is 18 storey, and the surrounding residences, most of which are two storeys.
And it worked. The design has received overwhelming support from city planning and urban design staff, going through two design review panels with unanimous support. This is likely because it’s clear that every part of the design has a distinct function to the story, unfolding like a Swiss Army knife.