Humbold Properties, a developer and manager of office, retail, and industrial properties across the GTA, is proposing to develop a surface parking lot that they own at 217 Adelaide Street West in Downtown Toronto. The property, which goes through the lot south to Pearl Street, is immediately east of a proposal by Westbank Corp and Allied Properties REIT for a 57-storey office and residential tower on the site of 19 Duncan Street and adjacent Adelaide Street lots. To the east is an 8-storey above-ground parking garage.

2217 Adelaide West, Toronto, by Humbold Properties, Kirkor Architects & PlannersThe south towards 217 Adelaide West by Humbold Properties, image courtesy of Kirkor Architects & Planners

Shown in the rendering above is the proposed tower, looking south, in relation to the two approved Mirvish+Gehry towers. Not shown in the rendering above is the 19 Duncan proposal which would replace the parking lot, small garage, and heritage warehouse shown to the right of the 217 Adelaide tower.

For 217 Adelaide West, architects David Butterworth and Adrienne Lee at Kirkor Architects and Planners wanted something atypical, something museum-like, something that could hold its own against the concrete parking garage to the east, and something that would hide an above-ground parking garage behind a sculptural facade.

As can be seen above but especially below, the design for 217 Adelaide falls within a style known as Brutalism where raw concrete is used as a primary cladding material. There are a number of Brutalist buildings in Toronto, amongst the best known of which are Robarts Library at the University of Toronto and the original John Andrews-designed buildings at UTSC. A recent example of Brutalism in Toronto can be found at River City, where patterned concrete walls face the Eastern Avenue overpass. While the style is one that can be considered an acquired taste, when the concrete is poured with care to minimize blemishes, and when the typically minimal details are engaging, Brutalist buildings can be surprisingly warm and inviting.

2217 Adelaide West, Toronto, by Humbold Properties, Kirkor Architects & PlannersThe podium at 217 Adelaide West by Humbold Properties, image courtesy of Kirkor Architects & Planners

For 217 Adelaide, Butterworth and Lee have sculpted a series of boxes which step back from the sidewalk, provide a sheltered forecourt for the condominium lobby, provide planting spaces for striking bands of greenery designed by Terraplan Landscape Architects, and which becomes a staggered series of "drawers" as the building heads 56 storeys into the sky. While the east wall is not proposed to have windows to allow a redevelopment to occur to the east, the west wall includes windows punched into the concrete. Certain floors are slightly askew to the otherwise mostly orthogonally aligned staggered boxes. Tower floorplates will vary in size from 610 to 699 square metres, which is smaller than the typical 750 square metres of most modern Toronto point towers.

2217 Adelaide West, Toronto, by Humbold Properties, Kirkor Architects & PlannersDrawer-type floors and side windows facing west at 217 Adelaide West, image courtesy of Kirkor Architects & Planners

Besides cars—which will access the parking garage via elevators accessed via Pearl Street—217 Adelaide's podium will feature bicycle parking for residents and visitors on the ground floor and mezzanine. Amenities will be located on the top of the podium and on the 8th floor, plus atop the building with a south-facing "skygarden". A variety of suite typologies is planned so that the building will appeal to a range of buyers. At this point, 30% of the suites in the building are proposed to be 2 or 3 bedroom units.

2217 Adelaide West, Toronto, by Humbold Properties, Kirkor Architects & PlannersLooking up at 217 Adelaide West by Humbold Properties, image courtesy of Kirkor Architects & Planners

While a pre-submission community consultation took place at Metro Hall on May 4, a submission to the City is expected soon, after which we expect to know more details of the application. The submission will kick off the formal planning process for the building.

To see several more renderings of the 217 Adelaide West proposal, click on the dataBase file for the project, linked below. If you would like to get in on the discussion, choose the associated Forum thread link, or you can leave a comment in the space provided on this page.