On October 22, Freed Development's application for a zoning by-law amendment at 89 Avenue Road was posted on the City's website. Though the document consists primarily of architectural and engineering line-drawings to the architectsAlliance-designed project, the cover sheet provided three renderings and several elevations and sections which have spurred discussion of the unique skin proposed for the buildings. UrbanToronto has obtained high-resolution versions of these images which allow us to take a closer look at what is proposed. We will start by examining the images in their entirety before focusing on a number of the details which we feel will make this building special.

What sets this design apart from so many others in the city are the metal screens on its exterior, mounted as operable louvres. The first image depicts the 28-storey west tower in its entirety, showing both closed louvres on the lower floors and more open ones nearer to the top.

Elevation drawing denoting hotel and residential floors, image courtesy of archiElevation drawing denoting hotel and residential floors, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The louvres on the lower floors denote the hotel portion of the project and can only be opened on a single hinge as depicted below.

Typical hotel floor, image courtesy of architectsAllianceTypical hotel floor, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

Those on the upper floors open in a scissor action and denote the residential condominium portion of the project.

Typical residential floor, image courtesy of architectsAllianceTypical residential floor, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The resulting effect is striking as screens, glass and balconies trade places and reveal themsleves in ever-evolving patterns.

89 Avenue Road, image courtesy of architectsAlliance89 Avenue Road, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

Zooming in, we see that the system is actually composed of three parts. From the exterior moving in, we first see the patterned white metal screens. Behind them lies an operable glass facade and standard half-height balcony glazing.

Louver detail showing second glass skin, image courtesy of architectsAllianceLouvre detail showing second glass skin, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The second rendering depicts the building's entrance off of Avenue Road. Though there is little articulation in the facade, the building is thin enough that it should, as a whole, act like a regular storefront and keep pedestrians' attention. The building appears to continue the razor sharp lines and mullion-free glass of The Four Seasons Hotel a block to the east.

89 Avenue Road entrance, image courtesy of architectsAlliance89 Avenue Road entrance, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

Above the entrance we get another glimpse of the louvre system.

Louver detail, image courtesy of architectsAllianceLouver detail, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The third image focuses on the upper portion of the tower and gives us the best idea of what aA and Freed are proposing.

89 Avenue Road louvred balconies and windows, image courtesy of architectsAllian89 Avenue Road louvred balconies and windows, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

Zooming in we again see the tripartite facade consisting of a metal screen, operable glass skin and balcony glass for safety. The first image below includes a unit fully opened to the outside with the balcony glazing depicted, and below that to the left a unit where only one portion of the sliding glass panes have been opened.

Louver detail showing inset balcony, image courtesy of architectsAllianceLouver detail showing inset balcony, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The following image shows a unit in the lower right where the louvres have been opened, but none of the glass panes have been opened.

Louver detail showing inset balcony, image courtesy of architectsAllianceLouver detail showing inset balcony, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

A variety of natural light and fresh air combinations will be possible with the two components of the facade. The screens will also cut down on solar gain, decreasing the need for air conditioning in warmer months.

Louver detail showing second glass skin, image courtesy of architectsAllianceLouvre detail showing second glass skin, image courtesy of architectsAlliance

The 89 Avenue Road proposal, which also includes a much shorter 6-storey tower at the east end of the site, is an example of how two of the City's most progressive firms are pushing multi-unit residential architecture forward. Experiments with new cladding materials such as metal louvres, and facade treatments like operable glass walls which turn rooms into balconies when opened are a bold departure from 'the norm'. These moves evidence the latitude for creative expression within the neo-moderist idiom that firms like aA are capable of when given adequate license by a cutting-edge developer.

UrbanToronto looks forward to watching this proposal evolve as it moves through the City's planning department. In the meantime, join the discussion in the building's Projects & Construction thread.