Plans for 480 University Avenue have evolved, and continue to, as Amexon Development Corporation, owners of the 18-storey office building on the northwest corner at Dundas, work with their designer Core Architects to push the programme for the building, and advance the design aspect in response to consultations with the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP). We have a look at the latest version of the plans.

Core Architects presented changes at the September DRP meeting which responded to concerns raised at the project's first review in May of this year. The most obvious of the changes are to the building's proposed new atrium entrance at ground level facing University Avenue. The original plan (seen in the second image below and some following images) featured an abstracted forest design which the majority of DRP members were unsupportive of, critical of its overstated nature, lack of formality on Toronto's most formal street, and stylistic disconnection from the rest of the project. The new plan proposes an atrium that will be suspended off the face of the building, clad with thermally insulated glass with subtle frit pattern. The glass will provide unobstructed light penetration into the atrium, including a new entry concourse to St. Patrick subway station. The design is also meant to allow for increased animation and visibility into/out of the atrium. The University Avenue sidewalk width has also been increased by approximately 1-metre when compared with the original scheme.

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

Earlier design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon Development CorpAn earlier design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

Earlier design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon Development CorpEarlier podium design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving podium design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving podium design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image cEarlier entry area design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving entry area design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

Changes have been made to both parts of the tower too; including more detailing in the re-clad existing 18-storey office building base, and a reconfiguration of balconies and walls of the 37-storey condominium tower to be built above it. Texture has been added to the commercial portion of the building to differentiate podium from residential upper portion, through metal fins extending from some mullions, and through a tall, narrow window pane which echoes the tall narrow panes of the current building, dubbed by some UrbanToronto members as a "Yamasaki Modern" design in honour of American Architect Minoru Yamasaki who employed this slender-proportioned windows on several of his buildings.

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving podium design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image cEarlier mid-tower design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving mid-tower design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

DRP members also asked for a tower which appeared less bulky. Whereas most modern condo towers in Toronto have a floor plate of approximately 750sq m, the upper tower floor plate here is approximately 1150sq m, owing to its rise from a typically larger office tower below. Core's response lightens the bulk by extending the balconies from the façade in place of punching into a more engulfing plate, and by using a more transparent glass. Fewer mullions appear in the new plan as well, further minimizing the tower's bulk. (Click on any image to see the details more clearly.)

The evolving podium design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image cEarlier skyline design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The evolving design of 480 University, by Core Architects, Amexon DevelopmentThe evolving skyline design of 480 University, design by Core Architects, image courtesy of Amexon Development Corporation

The redesign was greeted with much more enthusiasm at the September DRP meeting, but there remain some concerns that the panel looks to see addressed. The panel wants to see further design work at ground level to reflect the civic importance of the site, given the site's prominent location. The DRP is looking for a public realm that feels more spacious, uninterrupted and "of the highest quality". It is suggested that the on-street subway access stair be removed in favour of the new atrium concourse access. Higher up, the DRP is pushing for a reduced tower floor size to create a more slender tower with an improved transition from the base. More details can be found in the Design Review Panel minutes posted on the City's website.

We will be back to cover the continued evolution of this design. In the meantime, we have many more renderings in the dataBase file for 480 University, linked below, both of the current plan and the previous one, including views of the complex glowing at dusk. You can get in on the discussion of the project via the associated Forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space on this page.

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