Two Foster + Partners-designed towers were seen by the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP) on Thursday, March 10th. Alongside a new review of Mizrahi's super-tall The One, Urbacon and BRL Realty's 43-storey rental tower at Bay + Scollard was seen for the first time, garnering a generally positive reception from the Panel. 

A detailed presentation by representatives of Foster + Partners and the development team gave the Panel an overview of the design rationale that informed the massing strategy and public realm plan. Following last month's public consultation—where more fine-grained details of the plan first emerged—the DRP presentation offered further insight into the design.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW Bay + Scollard (left) alongside the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL via the City of Toronto

Designed in partnership with Toronto-based RAW (acting as architects of record), the tower's cladding and punched windows were praised by the panel, who were happy to see a proposal "that isn't another all-glass tower." The general massing strategy was also well received.

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW A closer look at the punched windows, image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL via the City of Toronto

The slender form, which gradually reduces the floorplate from 650 m² to 500 m² and eventually 350 m² was also praised, with the panel noting that the design "debunks the myth of the 750 m² floorplate," which is the typical platform for Toronto's new high-rise developments. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW An overview of the unit mix shows the tower's increasingly slender form towards the upper levels, image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL

Angled and sculpted to minimize shadowing, the tower obscures relatively little natural light by remaining in part within the existing shadow of the Four Seasons Hotel to the south. Targeting Tier 2 of the Toronto Green Standards, the tower is designed to minimize solar heat impact while providing cross ventilation, with 60% of units receiving both east and west sunlight and air. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW A new plaza is created by moving the heritage buildings east, image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL via the City of Toronto

At ground level, however, the project's heritage and public realm strategies were challenged by the panel. While the effort to create a new public plaza at the corner of Bay and Scollard was widely appreciated, the relocation of the heritage properties that currently front the corner was questioned. In order to open up the new retail-fronted plaza, four of the five structures on the site—all heritage listed since 1974—would be moved east, while the fifth building at 54 Scollard would be demolished. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW The easternmost white building at 54 Scollard (right) would be demolished, and the others moved east, image via Googe Maps

This heritage strategy (with care for the buildings to be overseen by ERA Architects) was debated by the panel, with some members arguing that the buildings' current location on Bay Street is more contextually appropriate, since the structures are some of the last remnants of the street's 19th century residential past. Conversely, other panel members felt that moving the structures into the more intimate Scollard Street environment to the east would make them contextually "more at home." In the end, a more comprehensive analysis of the heritage buildings—and the plausibility of moving them safely—was sought. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW The pattern of pleached trees demarcates the public space as an "urban room," image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL

Stronger criticism was reserved for the placement and architectural expression of the parking garage (below, right), which would directly neighbour the heritage structures to its west. A potential pedestrian conflict was identified with the parking garage, one which the panel argued could prove particularly impactful given the developers' hope to extend the neighbourhood's north-south pedestrian connections. Describing the garage as "totally alien" to its surroundings, the panel advised a redesign of the vehicle access area with closer attention to materiality. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW The parking access seen to the right (east) of the heritage properties, image by UT Forum contributor ProjectEND

At the base of the tower, the commitment to an expanded and enlivened public realm—woven together by Stoss Landscape Urbanism's pattern of pleached trees—was generally celebrated. However, the tower's ground level was seen as somewhat "unresolved" by the panel, with a refinement of the tower's street level step back suggested. 

Bay + Scollard, Toronto, by BRL Realty, Urbacon, Foster + Partners, RAW An overview of the retail and public amenity program so far, image courtesy of Urbacon/BRL via the City of Toronto

Praising the tower "cadence, elegance, and thoughtfulness," the panel agreed that the design team has "set the bar high," but that more fine-tuning could improve elements of the project. The panel voted to recommend a refinement—as opposed to a full re-design—of the project, which has also been mostly well received by members of the Yorkville community and UT Forum contributors. 

Stay tuned for more coverage of March 10th's Design Review Panel, which also included reviews of 48 Power Street and 1 Eglinton East. In the meantime, make sure to check out our dataBase file, linked below, for more information and the latest up-to-date renderings for Bay + Scollard. 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.