Amidst the debate over whether Toronto will accept a new casino, Oxford Properties has released more detailed and evolved renderings of how their proposal for a redeveloped Metro Toronto Convention Centre would look. In October 2012 Oxford released an initial plan for the site, to be renamed Oxford Place, with the disclaimer "For massing / illustration only" (reproduced below). The rendering shows four new towers rising from an entirely new set of podium buildings along with a landscaped park deck over the railway corridor leading to Union Station. The disclaimer in the lower right corner indicated that the architecture for the proposal was still at too early a stage for the viewer to take as an indication of how the final proposal would look.
Four new renderings from renowned London-based Foster + Partners Architects now show how the proposal has developed over the intervening months. While these new renderings still should not be read as the final proposal at this point, there are many more clues as to Oxford's intensions for the site that can be extracted from them.
The rendering below shows how the completed project would look to someone looking across the intersection from the northeast corner of Front and Simcoe streets. Closest to the viewer is the complex's podium sheathed with vast amounts of glass, revealing an illuminated ceiling presiding over a three-storey high entry space.
More detail can be gleaned from the enlargement accessed by clicking the image below: the podium entrance leads to both convention centre and retail mall uses, while the towers rising behind appear to have a double skin, indicated by the overhangs indicated behind the exterior glazing at each floor. At the back right of the rendering the hotel proposal has developed far beyond the initial simple oval cylinders seen the in the massing rendering.
Below, a refreshed park on the north side of Front Street sits across from the new twin 70-storey towers. Lower levels of the towers would be office space, while the upper levels would have residential rental units.
The retail mall can be seen continuing through the podium levels in the enlargement below. The towers themselves now appear much more slender on the north-south axis than in the earlier rendering.
The interior of the complex, looking southwest towards the CN Tower from the sky lobby space between the two towers, is bathed with natural light from massive windows and skylights. An expansive food court here is handy for the 10,000 office employees who could work in the complex.
Many levels of the balconied mall and convention centre space can be seen more clearly by clicking to access the enlargement below.
The western portion of the project is the location of the proposed casino and hotel, both with an opulent exterior distinguished by cylindrical volumes.
Seen more clearly by clicking on the enlargement below are the stairs on the left leading from Front Street up to the park deck over the railway corridor, and eventually down again to ground level beside the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, and the new Ripley's Aquarium. Will the exterior escalators pictured have a chance of operating reliably in Toronto's climate? Meanwhile, the Front Street sidewalk experience is marked buy up-market shops.
In the enlargement below, while the hotel tower features cut-out sections for trees, the standout feature of the casino here seems to be the entry area topped by a rooftop pool with a see-through base and sides. Could this feature possibly make it through to construction? There's a long way to go before we will know.
While Oxford has stated that none of its proposed redevelopment will go ahead without the casino component, many in the city's development community consider the statement a bluff. A casino may be approved at another site in Toronto, which would still increase the draw for conventions in the city, and the changing convention market likely requires a redesigned convention facility for the city to be more competitive regardless.
That a casino will be allowed anywhere in Toronto is not a certainty, with many prominent personalities and civic leaders lining up against one. A casino at Oxford Place, meanwhile, has also specifically attracted opposition from locals concerned with the area's ability to handle any more traffic, as has a proposal at Exhibition Place. Other sites proffered as potential locations in the city include Woodbine Race Track in Rexdale and sites near the Toronto Harbour.
Interested in more details of this proposal? Visit the UrbanToronto dataBase page for the project linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion about the project? Choose the associated Forum thread link!