One of the most buzz-worthy developments on UrbanToronto this year has certainly been the 45 Bay Street Redevelopment which would transform a land east of Union Station and the Air Canada Centre (ACC) into a new mixed-use office and retail complex while expanding the adjacent Union Station transportation hub.
In August, UrbanToronto members pieced together how this development might tie many interests together when a City of Toronto zoning review status notice and early renderings of what the Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines-developed, WilkinsonEyre-designed project were discovered online. The early renderings of the 48-storey and 60-storey mixed-use office tower proposals looked as if they could be amongst the top architectural highlights of Toronto's current urban boom. The long-rumoured replacement for the Bay Street Coach Terminal north of Dundas also looked like it was certain for this site.
In September, UrbanToronto reported on refined details when the developers held a press event to officially launch the project. Now, documents filed with the City of Toronto in support of the Site Plan Application that 45 Bay will need City Council approval for before it can proceed, reveal yet more details of the proposal. The Urban Design Analysis and Planning Rationale report, prepared by consultants Urban Strategies Inc. and WilkinsonEyre, goes in depth on the details of Phase 1, while introducing Phase 2 conceptually.
Tower and Podium
The office tower will rise above a seven-storey podium, with an average of 2,556 m2 of office space on floors 8 through 48. The lower 7 floors are the building's podium, with about double the floor area of the tower. Ground level will mostly consist of the lobby and bus terminal. A three-level retail unit will anchor the southwest corner. Level two is mostly bus terminal, plus the PATH network connecting to the ACC and Union Station via a new pedestrian bridge over Bay Street, while space will be protected for a future extension of PATH across Yonge Street to the east. Level three is mostly mechanical for the bus terminal. Level four is mostly retail/restaurant/amenity space, and the park which links across the tracks to the north. Levels 5 through 7 are double-size office space allowing fro trading floors. Below grade is a three-level parking garage and loading docks. Total commercial retail and office space in Phase 1 will be about 136,000 m2.
The diagrid-patterned tower will appear as two stacks, the south being 48-storeys tall, the north containing another 6 storeys of mechanical space above. Both north and south stacks end with a glass crown which extends approximately another 12 metres above the respective roofs. The height of the north crown will be 253.9 metres or 832 feet above the street. The height of the podium will be 46.8 metres, or 153 feet above the street. The building is designed to achieve LEED Platinum status.
Ivanhoé Cambridge confirmed that 45 Bay would be the site of a new Metrolinx bus terminal, but the initial news does not promise that all of the buses from the Bay and Dundas Coach Terminal would move into it, though it acknowledges the possibility of that happening. So far we are only certain that it will replace the current GO bus terminal, currently located at 141 Bay Street on the north side of the tracks, while allowing for expanded services. The current GO bus terminal has 6 bays, whereas the new terminal would have 14 bays on its two floors.
Buses would access the terminal only from Lake Shore Boulevard westbound, between Yonge and Bay Streets, and would only be able to exit in that direction as well. Including the mechanical space on the third floor, the bus terminal would account for about 10,000 m2 of space.
Connections and Public Realm
Making 45 Bay easily walkable from the bulk of the Financial Core on the north side of the tracks is essential to the project, so several improvements are planned. The most obvious of these is the park bridge over the Union Station Rail Corridor. Ivanhoé Cambridge has purchased the air rights over the tracks from Toronto Terminals Railway and Canadian National, while Metrolinx retains ownership of the land below over which trains will continue to run.
The park bridge will be publicly accessible, landscaped, and will connect to 45 Bay at its retail level. A restaurant will have a patio along the park's south edge. The park will be designed to be expanded to the east when phase 2 of the project at 141 Bay goes ahead.
Besides the open-air level 4 park bridge and the climate controlled level 2 east-west PATH extension, the project will also include improvements to the climate controlled Bay East Teamway under the tracks.
Outside at ground level there will be generous new plazas on Bay Street in front of 45 Bay and at the North Portal where access all be provided to the park bridge.
Underground, the project provides space to add another Waterfront LRT track and platform on the P2 level, connecting below ground to the existing LRT platform at Union Station. This will increase the capacity of the Bay Street LRT tunnel, allowing another line to use it.
Trucks using the loading dock would have access to 45 Bay from a new ramp to be built between the north wall of 18 Yonge Street and the rail berm. Vehicles accessing the garage could use the same Yonge Street ramp, or a ramp entering the garage from Bay Street just past the southwest corner retail unit.
Once the current GO Bus Terminal moves into 45 Bay Street, the land at 141 Bay, now purchased from Metrolinx by Ivanhoé Cambridge, will be re-landscaped and paved to provide a treed walkway from the Bay Street plaza and park bridge portal over to Yonge Street. A temporary surface parking lot will replace the current Go Bus Terminal.
Once the second phase of this project is ready to go, the parking lot and walkway will be replaced by a second tower and podium pair, this time shaped as parallelograms, corresponding to the shape of the property. Current plans are for the second tower to again be 48-storeys high. The park bridge would also be expanded at that time, the extent of which will be confirmed then.
Ivanhoé Cambridge hopes to commence construction in the Spring of 2015 with the intention of completing Phase 1 in mid-2018. No doubt some of the details will change somewhat as the proposal moves through the planning process. As more information becomes available, UrbanToronto will keep you updated. Many more renderings of the project can be found in our dataBase file on the project, linked below. If you would like to get in on the discussion, choose the associated Forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.