Depending on your point of view, the Pinnacle International proposal for the Toronto Star Building lands at 1 Yonge Street may be exciting, or it may be alarming. It's been called both of those things at recent public meetings, and opinions differ on UrbanToronto's Forum as well. It's the size of the proposal that provokes the reactions, both for and against. UrbanToronto has covered the grand plans in earlier articles (you'll find links to those at the bottom of this article), but today we're going to look at a part of the plan where readers may find common ground more easily, and that's on the ground realm plan.

1 Yonge, or 1 through 7 Yonge plus some addresses to come on adjoining streets, proposes two groups of buildings on the block, to be bisected by an eastwards extension of Harbour Street.

Looking down at the arrangement of buildings on the 1 - 7 Yonge site, TorontoLooking down at the arrangement of buildings on the 1 - 7 Yonge site, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

On the south block, the existing Toronto Star Building—in the southwest corner—would gain an addition to its top. A new hotel/condo tower would be physically linked to the north side, while a mostly retail podium (shown with the gridded green roof above) would link both towers to a new office tower on the east side of the block.

On the north block, currently all parking lot, four towers would rise from a U-shaped podium at the southwest, northwest, northeast, and southeast corners.

Ground Plan showing uses both inside and out at the 1 - 7 Yonge, TorontoGround Plan showing uses both inside and out at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

Images at a recent public meeting by designers Hariri Pontarini Architects go into more detail of what is proposed at ground level. All parts of the development would be surrounded by wide, landscaped sidewalks, especially wide on Yonge Street. The inside of the U on the north half would feature a cul-de-sacced woonerf, a Dutch term that refers to a street designed to safely mix pedestrians with slow moving vehicles. A dashed gray line in the image above shows a new ground level pedestrian route through the site, drawing some pedestrians off Yonge, diagonally passing through the podium (the upper purple area), along the woonerf and across Harbour Street, and then into the south podium (shown in purple again), finally disgorging at the Queens Quay across from the Pier 27 development site and its adjacent water's edge park site. 

While that route represents a new, partially weather protected mid-block route through the site, a potentially busier pedestrian route will be that along Yonge Street. This route is set out by the City as a special promenade, linking the bulk of the city north of the railway tracks to the water's edge at Toronto Harbour. At 17 metres wide until the Toronto Star building, the promenade will be amongst the grandest sidewalks in the city, leaving plenty of space for landscaping.

The slide below shows that Hariri Pontarini has further developed the plan around the base of the Toronto Star building, cutting away a significant part of the two lower levels to provide a sheltered walking space. Similar cut-outs on the Queens Quay side add to the width of the sidewalk there to.

Wide, landscaped sidewalks; the promenade at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, TorontoWide, landscaped sidewalks; the promenade at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

A side-on view looking east shows the ground realm condition as proposed along Yonge Street. The undulating glass canopy provides weather-protected conditions on the sidewalk close to the podium walls and over store entrances. The rendering includes a view down the Harbour Street extension towards future redevelopments in Toronto's East Bayfront area.

Wide, sheltered sidewalks; the promenade at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, TorontoWide, sheltered sidewalks; the promenade at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

A detailed close-up of the southern portion of the image above appears below, where the sheltered walkway under the Toronto Star building can be more easily seen at right. Glass walls will allow light to pour out of the lobby into the walkway space.

Toronto Star building; widened sidewalks at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, TorontoToronto Star building; widened sidewalks at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

Another slide presented at the meeting looked at another aspect of the ground realm, the proposed doors along Yonge Street and Queens Quay. (The slide does not address potential doorways along the other streets: there would be doors along Harbour, Freeland, the woonerf, and Lake Shore too.) It is the intension of the developers to bring a fine grain to the pedestrian realm, meaning that many doors will lead to many shops and services, and encouraging a lively street scene.

 doors on the street at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, TorontoGround level porosity: doors on the street at the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal, image by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle International

The proposal takes up the western quarter of an area known by Toronto City Planning and Waterfront Toronto as the Lower Yonge Precinct. A joint study by planners at both bodies is currently underway. Results of the study so far were presented yesterday a Metro Hall for further public comment. The point of the study is to prepare guidelines for redevelopment of the area between Yonge Street and Jarvis Street and between the Gardiner and Queens Quay. The study aims to make for a pleasant neighbourhood in which to live, work, and play. It aims to correct transportation problems in the area created by 1960s legacy Lake Shore Boulevard/Harbour Street/Gardiner Expressway ramps and redesign the roads to better serve city blocks. The plan aims to bring significant parkland to the area, attractive and adequately wide pedestrian and bicycle links, and is careful to protect the pedestrian realm from excessive shadowing. While the plan foresees tall buildings, it does not foresee a development at 1 Yonge that is as large as is currently proposed.

We will look more at the Lower Yonge Precinct Plan in the future, and will continue to follow plans for 1 Yonge of course.

Want to know more about the 1 - 7 Yonge proposal? Check out the UrbanToronto dataBase file, linked below. Want to talk about it all? Choose one of the associated Forum thread links, or leave your comment in the space provided on this page.