On February 1st, a community consultation brought details of the Urbacon and BRL Realty's Bay + Scollard high-rise proposal to the public. First introduced by UrbanToronto in November, the 43-storey luxury rental tower—designed by Foster + Partners of London in collaboration with RAW Design to Toronto—was met by a relatively warm public reception at the meeting. Many of the Yorkville area residents in attendance joined Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in praising the design's sensitivity to area context, with particular recognition reserved for the public realm strategy, which would see a new plaza woven into the street-level at the intersection of Bay and Scollard.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners A rendering of the project, image retrieved from Urbacon submission to the City of Toronto

At ground level, ERA Architects would oversee the refurbishment of four of the five heritage-listed properties currently fronting Scollard Street. These houses would be move slightly to the east in order to create a new Privately Owned Publicly-Accessible Open Space (PoPS) at the corner of Bay and Scollard.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners The heritage plan would see four properties at the corner of Bay and Scollard moved east, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

To facilitate this, the easternmost of the five heritage-listed low-rises (at 54 Scollard, below) would need to be demolished to allow vehicular access to the development from Scollard Street.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners The white house would be demolished, other properties would be moved east, image retrieved via Google Maps

Defining the new public space as an "urban room," a row of pleached trees outlines a soft delineation between the intimate and withdrawn public piaza and the more exposed urban realm. Appointed by Stoss Landscape Urbanism, of Boston, the unique plantings should become a highlight of the project at street-level.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners The 'urban room' will be opened up by moving the heritage properties east, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

According to Urbacon and BRL Realty's presentation, the nature of Bay + Scollard's retail—which will be housed on the first four floors of the project—and public realm programming will strongly draw from continuing consultations with community members. The creation of contextually appropriate retail was identified as a priority, the intimate nature of the public space was also inspired by Yorkville's established character, with small laneways and somewhat cloistered public areas giving the area much of its charm. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners A close-up of the public space at street level, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

In order to maximize public space sat ground level, the tower's rectilinear volumes slightly overhang the piaza, carving out a larger space below. Along the length of the 112-unit tower, its volumes are also set back from the very slender 43-storey peak, with the gradual reduction in height referencing the very different urban context to the north.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners Looking north, the slender form of the tower is emphasized, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

This massing strategy is designed to minimize wind and shadowing impacts of the development. Much of the tower's shadow overlaps the existing shadow of the taller Four Seasons Hotel and Residences to the south, while the building's footprint—which is subtly tilted from the street grid—sees a more slender shadow created across the neighbouring Jesse Ketchum School yard (below).

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners Looking east from the Jesse Ketchum schoolyard, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

A detailed wind study was also presented, modelling comfortable conditions near the base of the tower, with modest increases—and even some decreases—in wind intensity nearby. Notably, some areas near the base of the Four Seasons are forecasted to experience decreased wind intensity, making for a more pleasant ambiance at ground level.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners The staggered forms serve to minimize shadow and wind impacts, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

A series of scale models illustrated the design evolution of the project (beginning from the bottom-right corner, below). The distinctive, modernist-inspired design characterized by clean lines and punched windows would be a stylistic contrast to many of the area's glass-and-steel towers.   

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners A series of models showing the evolution of the design, image by Craig White

Following presentations by the City's Planning Department and the developers, community members were afforded a chance to share their thoughts about various elements of the proposal, with a series of breakout roundtable discussions facilitating extensive commentary, which was shared by City Staff following the discussions.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners A scale model showing the ground level treatment, image by Craig White

A number of residents expressed concerns about shadowing impacts (particularly for the 1331 Bay property neighbouring the site to the north), traffic congestion, and potential construction noise. The heritage preservation plan was also called into question by some, with a few community members expressing a preference to preserve all five properties on the site. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners Looking north on Bay Street, photo of Foster + Partners rendering

Though the project faced some criticism, the reception seemed largely positive, with many residents praising the heritage preservation plan and the public space. "Opening up that corner makes a nice public plaza, even if it means losing one building," one person commented, while the heritage preservation was also called a "very good compromise" by several community members. The architectural expression of the tower was also mostly well received, with one resident commenting that the "sophisticated and unprecedented proposal should set the criteria for all new development."

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners Massing model showing Bay + Scollard in its future urban context (looking east), image by Craig White

Following comments from the community, area councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam described the presentation as "one of the most intelligent... that we have seen," reserving particular praise for "the exceptionally detailed wind and shadow studies" presented by Urbacon and BRL Realty. However, the Councillor implored the developers to work towards maintaining a high degree of respect for the community as the planning process continues, and not to merely accept the standards of the area's recent built form as a "good enough" benchmark.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners Kristyn Wong-Tam addresses the community and the developers, image by Craig White

We will keep you updated as the project continues to progress. In the meantime, check out our dataBase file, linked below, for more information and the latest up-to-date renderings. Want to share your thoughts on the design so far? Join in the discussion in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.