In the past couple of months, much has changed on the northeast corner of Yonge and Sheppard in Toronto's North York City Centre area where ongoing construction activity is reshaping the Yonge Sheppard Centre. A 1976-built Brutalist style development owned by Kingsett Capital and RioCan, the construction encompasses a major renovation and expansion designed by Quadrangle Architects of the retail portion, while adding another rental tower to the sprawling complex. It's all in aid of keeping the site vital, updating it into a modern urban setting.
Recent updates in the project's UrbanToronto Forum thread show the progress made since our last editorial in August. Beginning with Forum contributor Ottawan's photo taken in February from the Nestle Building to the southwest, one of the first things noticed is the new steel framing for the expanded retail component between the 9 and 19-storey office towers. Set to occupy the spaces fronting onto Yonge Street are LA Fitness and Longo's, while the overall expansion includes 106,000 square feet of new retail space, totalling 474,000 square feet once completed.
Inside, a new focus has been put on the pedestrian circulation, improving the flow of traffic in the formerly warren-like mall. It will feature new skylight-topped hallways in spots, allowing for natural light to enliven the commercial space.
Outside where the building meets the street, construction is progressing on the removal of the "moat" which complicated access from the sidewalk to the building for 41 years. Arguably the most important element to be reworked on this project, the removal of the moat signifies the eradication of the fortress-like development mindset of the 1970s. Now, the facades fronting onto Yonge will be pushed closer to the sidewalk, finally creating a stronger urban pedestrian realm, with street level entrances.
Also seen in the photos in the forum thread is a crane at the north end of the site where the new rental tower will be added. While construction here (which will first create new loading facilities for the retailers) is ongoing, behind the scenes there has been a notable change to phase two of the expansion component. The 39-storey rental tower has been redesigned in the latest submission to the City. Now only 35 storeys, the rental tower will reach 123 metres in height, or 403 feet. 359 residential apartment units are accommodated by the new design; a decrease from the initial 374 proposed.
The redesigned rental tower will still proceed with a new day care facility as initially planned, accessed from the Greenfield Avenue frontage. The most notable change in the redesign is the elimination of the precast elements on the exterior, meant to reflect the Brutalism of the other buildings. Now gone, this has been replaced by more glass and metallic surfaces, in a combination of black, grey, and white tones.
Additional information and renderings can be found in our updated dataBase file for the development, linked below. Want to share your thoughts on the expansion? Feel free to drop a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum thread.