Legally speaking, Devron Developments and Great Gulf's Downtown Toronto project at 101 Spadina Avenue does not yet exist. That's because no formal application has been made, and no documents have been submitted to the City. However, much is already becoming known about the 47-storey, Diamond Schmitt-designed tower, with a preliminary iteration revealed to the Ward 20 community in March. Two months later, the project continues to be refined in advance of a submission, with Toronto's Design Review Panel invited to critique the plans so far. 

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond Schmitt101 Spadina, looking southeast, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

Presented to the DRP on Thursday, May 18th, the development remains in a state of evolution, even as polished renderings depict a seemingly finalized design. While the new renderings indicate a likely aesthetic direction for the project, the massing strategy continues to be refined. 

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittLooking south on Spadina, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

Located at the southeast corner of Spadina and Adelaide, the concept introduces three volumes to the site, which currently is partially occupied by a two-storey commercial building, as well as one of the King West neighbourhood's last surface parking lots. At the northeast end of the site, a six-storey heritage building would be incorporated into an eight-storey podium.

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittThe project site, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

At street level, the heritage building houses one of the three planned retail spaces, with a smaller mid-block commercial space on Adelaide to the west, and a larger storefront spanning the full length of the Spadina frontage. A total of about 12,000 ft² of retail space is planned. Running north-south through the ground floor of the podium, a somewhat unusual POPS contribution is planned, creating a public space within the building's lobby.

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittThe ground floor plan, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

Configured as a galleria, the 20-foot wide POPS would lead to a second floor community space housed in the heritage building. Proposed to be given over to the City as a Section 37 community benefit via a 99-year lease, the mid-block galleria would be one of Toronto's few indoor POPS. For the community space above, preliminary discussions with area residents and Ward 20 Councillor Joe Cressy will inform the programming. So far, a reference library has been considered as a potential use. 

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittThe galleria, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

West of the community space, the second floor is proposed as office space. Above, the remaining five floors of the base building would be fully occupied by office uses, with a green roof amenity space filling out the podium footprint. In total, approximately 150,000 ft² of office space is planned. 

Above the podium, a middle L-shaped residential tower volume negotiates the transition from the boxy podium to the more slender high-rise form to its east. The project's 47-storey height peak is planned for the east end of the site. The high-rise point tower positioned towards the Entertainment District's cluster of similarly scaled towers, while the shorter podium and tower volumes to the west reference the datum lines of Spadina's surrounding built form. 

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With the development still in its very early stages, the panel did not vote to recommend a redesign or refinement of the project. All the same, the concept design garnered a mostly positive reception, with the panelists unanimous in praising the general massing strategy as an effective and contextually appropriate distribution of density across the site. 

While the project's breakdown of units is likely to evolve throughout the planning process, architect Don Schmitt explained that a portion of the lower residential levels would be given over to "family units." Building on Schmitt's comments, the panel admonished the developers to follow through with providing larger units, including a sizeable proportion of three-bedroom homes. 

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittA closer look at the podium, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

The full in-situ preservation of the existing building at 355 Adelaide West was also praised, with the provision of the second floor as a community space seen as an appropriate use of the space. However, the programming of the galleria POPS—which would lead to the second-floor community space—was a source of some concern to the panelists, who stressed that great care needs to be taken for the space to "really feel public." 

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittAnother view of the atrium, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

In the worst-case scenario, the indoor POPS could end up a condo lobby by another name. "Greater transparency is needed for the mid-block galleria," a panelist argued, arguing that the architecture must work to make the space read as a public venue from the street. "Make it more welcoming," the panelist concluded. Another panel member put it more bluntly, asking "how will it run?"

An on-site park provision could be a solution to integrating the POPS with the street, one panelist suggested. With a formal submission still to be made, the City has not yet worked out a parkland requirement (whether on-site or off-site) for the project. In advance of the negotiations, the panel admonished both the developers and the City to consider the provision of on-site parkland.

101 Spadina, Toronto, by Devron, Great Gulf, Diamond SchmittThe Adelaide frontage, image via submission to the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel

Fronting onto narrow Oxley Street‚ the south side of the lot was cited as a viable location for a new public space, which could help make the mid-block galleria more prominent from Spadina, while also making the overlooked Oxley Street a more open and welcoming part of the urban fabric.

Overall, the review was a positive one, with the panelists agreeing that the proposal would contribute a reasonable addition to the neighbourhood. Notably, tower height was never mentioned as a factor by the panelists, with March's community meeting also evidencing relatively little opposition to the 47-storey scale, which would reach an approximate height of 150 metres.  

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We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and a submission comes before the City of Toronto. In the meantime, you can check out our newly created dataBase file to learn more. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on the space on this page, or join the conversation in our Forum.