It has long felt like Toronto's Queen West retail strip is somewhat disconnected from the city around it. That's not strictly true, but years ago the stretch of Queen between John and Spadina became hip in the first place owing to the lower rents afforded by its perceived isolation: it was close to Downtown, yet buffered from it by a couple blocks of run down Victorians and parking lots. Over time, that has changed as the the shops and restaurants between John and University have gradually improved… and now, the last big gap in the street wall is finally being filled in that will knit it all together.

Looking west along Queen in May 2013, image retrieved from Google Street ViewLooking west along Queen in May 2013, image retrieved from Google Street View

Just to the west of Simcoe Street, a new development—replacing a surface parking lot—is connecting Queen West with Downtown, with Urban Capital and Malibu Investments' Smart House now on the rise. The condo and commercial development, designed by architectsAlliance with interiors by II BY IV DESIGN, is an unapologetic in its make-up of purpose-planned micro suites. Each unit comes with special built-ins designed to maximize compact spaces in a city where land values have skyrocketed, aiming to provide more affordable units Downtown. Rooms can be transformed in the condos from one purpose to another by opening cabinets to reveal kitchen features, bedroom features, or to turn them into study/workspaces or living rooms. 

Smart House site on November 13, 2015, shortly after excavation beganThe site on November 13, 2015, shortly after excavation began, image by Edward Skira

Sales started in 2013, while excavation of the site started in 2015. Above, a shot shows the site in November 2015 from shortly after earth moving equipment was delivered to start the dig-down, while the image below, six months to the day after the first shot, shows how the site looked in May of this year. By then, the crane was in, and work to bring the building back up to grade had recently started, with the foundation slab being created four levels below ground.

Smart House site on May 13, 2016, Toronto, half a year after excavation beganThe site on May 13, 2016, crane in, foundation going in, half a year after excavation began, image by Edward Skira

Since that time, we have been photographing Smart House on at least a monthly basis, following its rise back up to the street. Captions below each photo describe the latest work as seen on each visit, ending with a visit from earlier today.

Smart House site on June 7, 2016, Toronto, P4 walls startingThe site on June 7, 2016: foundation slab in, the lower P3 walls are starting, the last excavation is seen, image by Edward Skira

Smart House site on July 20, 2016, Toronto, P3 slab curingThe site on July 20, 2016, sloping floor of P3 is in, P2 starting (through the fence), image by Edward Skira

Smart House site on August 18, 2016, Toronto, sloping P2 and P1 floors going inThe site on August 18, 2016, opposite angle, P2 sloping floor in, P1 going in, image by Edward Skira

Smart House site on September 15, 2016, Toronto, P1 columns reach gradeThe site on September 15, 2016, P1 columns reach ground level, image by Edward Skira

Smart House site on October 11, 2016, Toronto, ground floor readied for concreteThe site on October 11, 2016, the ground level is being readied for its concrete pour, image by Edward Skira

Smart House site on November 23, 2016, Toronto, above grade levelThe site on November 23, 2016, the mezzanine floor slab and some walls are in, image by Edward Skira

It has taken about a month per floor to get back to grade, and now rise one level above. Smart House's ground level and mezzanine will provide new retail spaces on the street. The building's third floor will be offices. Above that are the amenities, and the suites rise from there. Once the tower reaches the 4th floor, the floor plates become repetitive, and you can expect the building to rise at the rate of about one floor per week thereafter. The 24-floor building should top out in mid-2017.

Looking south towards Smart House in its urban context, Urban Capital, TorontoLooking south towards Smart House in its urban context, image courtesy of Urban Capital

Want to know more about Smart House? UrbanToronto's dataBase file, linked below, includes plenty of renderings and other information. Want to talk about the project? You can leave a comment in the field provided on this page, or join in on the conversation in our associated Forum threads.