Change is once again coming to the East Bayfront after Waterfront Toronto and Menkes Developments officially announced today the addition of a 350,000 square foot office complex. Located just north of the Corus Quay building and Canada's Sugar Beach, the Sweeny &Co Architects-designed Waterfront Innovation Centre will bring approximately 2,000 employees to the water's edge. 

The southern side of the building, including Corus Quay, image by MenkesThe southern side of the building, including Corus Quay to the right, image courtesy of Menkes

A throng of media gathered at the Corus Quay building for the announcement. In attendance were Mayor John Tory; Federal Minister of Finance Joe Oliver; Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure Brad Duguid; President of Menkes Peter Menkes; President and CEO of Waterfront Toronto John Campbell and Waterfront Toronto Board of Directors Chair Mark Wilson. 

Night rendering depicting the Queen's Quay face of the building, image by MenkesNight rendering depicting the Queen's Quay face of the building, image courtesy of Menkes

Following a competitive selection process, Menkes was chosen by Waterfront Toronto to develop the commercial space which is to be funded entirely by the private sector. The building will be included within the much touted local ultra-high-speed broadband fibre-optic network, a service set to provide internet connectivity to these burgeoning waterfront communities. 

Waterfront Toronto President CEO John Campbell, image by Marcus MitanisWaterfront Toronto President and CEO John Campbell unveils the design, image by Marcus Mitanis

Though the search for tenants is just beginning, Waterfront Toronto and Menkes are aiming for investment particularly from the IT and creative sectors which would benefit significantly from the ultra-high-speed broadband network. "The Innovation Centre will be more than just office space," said Campbell. "The building itself is being designed to reinvent how employees in Toronto's burgeoning creative and technology sectors work together."

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, image by Marcus MitanisFederal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, image by Marcus Mitanis

The Waterfront Innovation Centre is due to inject an economic boost to an area that has seen $2.6 billion in private investment as a result of the revitalization efforts. “The transformation of Toronto’s waterfront has been nothing short of spectacular. We are seeing old abandoned industrial sites turned into dynamic, modern, livable communities that are attracting cutting-edge workplaces like this new Innovation Centre," said Oliver. "The Innovation Centre will not only reaffirm Canada’s place as a global leader in the Information and Communications Technology sector, it will also create opportunities for growth and good high-paying jobs.”

Looking east at the proposed Waterfront Innovation Centre, image by MenkesLooking east at the proposed Waterfront Innovation Centre, image courtesy of Menkes

The design of the building has already drawn some to make comparisons with Ryerson University's Student Learning Centre, due to its sweeping stairs at its west entrance and the concrete columns holding up the irregularly-shaped glass structure. This aspect of the building has been dubbed 'The Exchange' and will contain audio / visual facilities, workshop labs and a social gathering space. 'The Hive', located in the eastern half of the complex, will house ergonomic, flexible and adaptable work spaces within large, open floors. 'The Nexus' encompasses the ground floor of the building. This area will act as a "public realm extension" which includes the lobby, atrium and lounging spaces.

Waterfront Innovation Centre roof, image courtesy of MenkesWaterfront Innovation Centre roof, image courtesy of Menkes

"The design for the new Waterfront Toronto Innovation Centre is focused on stimulating, encouraging and supporting three aspects of collaboration: Social Interaction, Information Exchange, and Transformative Space," said Dermot Sweeny, Principal of Sweeny &Co Architects. Renderings also suggest a patio space will complete the roof of the building at its southwestern edge, a space primed to provide commanding views of Sugar Beach and the Toronto Harbour. 

Mayor John Tory speaks, image by Marcus MitanisMayor John Tory speaks, image by Marcus Mitanis

“There is growing demand from companies in the creative arts, film and television, digital media, R&D and technology industries for an alternative to traditional corporate office space," said Menkes. "For these firms, open concept collaborative workspaces not only foster innovation, but are integral to their economic success and competitiveness on both a Canadian and global scale.” 

Overview of waterfront and Innovation Centre, image by Waterfront TorontoAn overview of the waterfront and the Innovation Centre's footprint, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

On the transit front, although the renderings depict a Waterfront LRT route, the project is currently unfunded. "Obviously it's a priority for us to add a transit service to this eastern part of the waterfront and we are in the midst of sorting out where that project will fit on the city's priority list and how we fund it," said Mayor Tory. 

Sweeny, Wilson, Tory, Duguid, Menkes, Oliver, Campbell, image by Marcus MitanisDermot Sweeny, Mark Wilson, John Tory, Brad Duguid, Peter Menkes, Joe Oliver and John Campbell, image by Marcus Mitanis

"The Innovation Centre is a job creating tool. A compatible, sensible design in a spectacular location," said Tory. "People will want to come here and develop their ideas, create jobs for others, and bring about innovation in this great city of ours." Menkes is expected to prepare a final project proposal within 18 months of a "critical mass of tenant interest." The cost of the project was kept under wraps. Ground breaking is targeted for late 2016. 

The site of the Waterfront Innovation Centre, image by Marcus MitanisThe site of the Waterfront Innovation Centre, image by Marcus Mitanis

For more details, visit the UrbanToronto dataBase file or this project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.