The first community consultation for Carttera Private Equities' proposed office tower at 65-75 King Street East was, for the most part, a reserved affair. Lawyers, developers, and City of Toronto planning officials made up the majority of the crowd, with only a few area residents in attendance. Located just east of the King Edward Hotel, the 19-storey development—replacing a surface level parking lot—is not surrounded by residential properties, meaning that the direct community impact of the project would be relatively limited. Nonetheless, the consultation provided new information about the Page + Steele / IBI Group-designed project, with a presentation by the architects setting out the design rationale. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele A rendering presented at the meeting, looking east on King, image courtesy of Carttera and P+S / IBI

The L-shaped site opens out from a narrow stretch of King Street to span across the western half of the block's Colborne Street frontage. At ground level, the development would preserve two heritage facades at 71 and 75 King Street East, while adding a red sandstone facade to the west—referencing the materiality of the surrounding heritage architecture—and stretching the length of the wrap-around podium. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele A closer view of the red sandstone podium, image courtesy of Carttera and P + S

The ground level treatment would include a somewhat glassier podium along Leader Lane at the building's western frontage, which P + S / IBI president Sol Wassermuhl explained would "enlarge the narrow space" while flooding the tower lobby with light. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele The glassier frontage along Leader Lane is meant to 'enlarge' the space, image courtesy of Carttera and P + S

Above, the tower levels are set back to allow King Street's heritage buildings to retain their prominence on the streetscape, with an undifferentiated three-storey glass facade above the podium. From there, the bulk of the tower is cantilevered over the minimalistic glass set back, with the tower's cladding meant as a gesture to the area's heritage context.   

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele A more detailed look at the massing strategy, photo of presentation by Carttera and P + S

The architects' also explained that the bulkier tower floors allow for a greater floor area, maximizing what was characterized as a somewhat undersized lot. "Typically, office towers are built on a 20,000 ft² footprint, but we're working with a space of about 16,700 ft²," the architects explained, providing a rationale for the massing strategy. In total, the project would add 27,814 m² of office space and 707 m² of retail to the area, with a 5-level underground parking garage set to feature 189 spots, alongside 126 bicycle spaces. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele The ground level would feature 707 square metres of retail, photo of presentation by Carttera and P + S

Although only a 19-storey building, the tower's 4 metre-tall floors—typical for an office development—make its 83.3-metre height equivalent to that of a 25-storey residential building. If built, the project would match the height of Freed and Carterra's 25-storey Sixty Colborne Condos, currently under construction on the east side of the block. The podiums of the two developments would meet on Colborne Street, creating a cohesive, retail-fronted street wall. With most of the ground level given over to retail, the development team hopes that the project will enliven the area, particularly if Colborne Street were remade into a more pedestrian-oriented thoroughfare, as proposed by the City, possibly with narrowed lanes, or possibly woonerf style as depicted in the image below. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele Looking west on (a pedestrianized) Colborne Street, image courtesy of Carttera and P + S

As most attendees at the meeting were there in a professional capacity, (likely reflecting a relative lack of local concerns), only a few clarifying questions were posed, with community members asking for more detail about the bird-friendliness and underground connectivity of the building. The architects assured that the building's modern glazing technology would make it safe for birds, while an underground pedestrian connection to the King Edward Hotel has been considered but is not necessarily planned. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele The meeting was held at the Ontario Heritage Trust at 8 Adelaide East, photo by Craig White

The most critical comments of the evening came from lawyer Heather Zordel, who attended as a representative the Albany Club, a 134 year old bastion of Canadian big-C Conservatism located just east of the site on King Street. Zordel made it clear that the Albany Club disapproves of the proposed development, which would not contribute any benefits or improvements to the Albany Club. Arguing that a "full block development plan" would be more effective in protecting the area's historic built form, Zordel suggested that the Albany Club's previous proposal for a 47-storey tower—incorporating the Club's property at 91 King East—was more contextually appropriate. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele Looking west on King Street, image courtesy of Carttera and P + S

Aside from the the Albany Club commentary, the project was not regarded as particularly contentious by the members of the community in attendance. Following the presentations from Wasserhmuhl and Community Planner Thomas Rees—with input from Heritage Services—Ward 28 Councillor Pam McConnell expressed a desire to see "a lot of discussion between developers and planners" before a final report is submitted. 

65-75 King Street East, Toronto, by Carttera Private Equities, Page + Steele King Street as it appears now, image retrieved via Google Maps

With the proposal still in its early stages, we can look forward to a continued evolution of the massing and architectural expression. In the meantime, more information is available on our associated dataBase file, linked below. What do you think about the proposal, and how should the design evolve? Feel free to leave a comment in the space below this page, or join in the ongoing discussion on our associated Forum thread.