The design for phases 2 and 3 of Pinnacle One Yonge appeared before a joint meeting of the City of Toronto's Design Review Panel and Waterfront Toronto's Design Review Panel yesterday at Toronto City Hall. These phases of the development, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects for Pinnacle International, will respectively add 95 and 80-storey towers to the 65-storey phase 1 tower. All three towers are to be built on the north half of the site the developer purchased from The Toronto Star in 2011.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking southeast from up high above Pinnacle One Yonge, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

The design presented to the joint Design Review Panel (DRP) meeting represents a five-year evolution of the plans for the huge complex, first revealed to the public on January 3, 2013. Originally proposed with six towers (four on the north half of the site, two on the south), a third tower was added to the south half, then two of those towers were combined, and then the four-tower north half was reconfigured for three towers. Heights have changed, along with the arrangement of the buildings and passageways around them at ground level, and a community centre was made part of the mix. It's all made for a protracted process of the developer and architect refining the plans in conjunction with the aims of the City and Waterfront Toronto, looking to create something of significance at the south end of Toronto's main north-south street. Placemaking is the operative term here (read tall, bold, and memorable), all while creating the first buildings of a new neighbourhood, with an emphasis on liveability: that is paramount for the City's Lower Yonge Precinct Plan.  

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalPinnacle One Yonge in context of Downtown Toronto, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

A reworked road network for the area along with a new public realm to complement it will account for much of the livability gains. Currently the site of the Harbour-to-Lake Shore S-curve at Yonge Street, traffic patterns will change in the area as Harbour is extended east through this and adjoining sites, allowing the sweeping, land-consumptive curve to be eliminated and the space it takes up to be reallocated to pedestrians. An outdoor square is planned for the northwest corner of the site, and while it is shown below (where labeled 'North Parcel') with landscaping, don't read too much into the depiction yet: the public space has not yet been designed. The City has mused about creating a competition for the public realm design here, and Design Review Panel members yesterday urged them to do so, noting the significance of this project and its location.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalPinnacle One Yonge Site Plan, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

With its prominent, central location and its size, the importance of getting the project right at both the city scale and local scale was emphasized at the meeting. Panel members were generally enthusiastic about what they saw, with those who had been at earlier DRP sessions remarking on how far the design has come, while still recording some concerns they want to see addressed as the design is further refined.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking southeast to Pinnacle One Yonge, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

Architect David Pontarini told the panel that over the last year the phase 2 and 3 towers have been sculpted with an eye to reducing wind loads on the buildings and to mitigate its effects at ground level. Both the 80 and 95-storey towers feature notches to break up the wind, while the 95-storey tower also features a diagrid with metal ribs protruding from its surface. Pontarini explained that while the diagrid traces the edge of some chamfers in the tower, it is not structural, but designed along with other features to prevent the wind from forming into strong gusts.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking northwest to Pinnacle One Yonge (park design at right is a place-holder), image courtesy of Pinnacle International

Pontarini also commented that apertures for balconies on higher floors were still being considered—in terms of better sheltering balconies or possibly eliminating them.

Pontarini explained that architecturally, the design of phases 2 and 3 are meant to be more dynamic, reflecting the civic nature of Yonge Street and the new square, while the 65-storey phase 1 tower is designed to be the more restrained member of the family of towers, responding to its siting opposite a new park and adjacent future residential development to the east.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking east to Pinnacle One Yonge, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

Overall, the panel members were quite pleased with the carved design of 80 and 95-storey towers, but wondered if the 65-storey phase 1 tower might be revised to look more like its taller siblings. (It's unclear what changes might be made to phase 1 at this point as its design is much closer to complete). Panellists generally agreed that curved forms on the podiums were unnecessary, and remarked that they recall Hariri Pontarini's One Bloor East design more than they do the design of the towers here.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking northwest to Phase 1 at ground level, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

There was also concern from some members that the pedestrian walkways and woonerfs at ground level would get enough light. Pontarini agreed that lighting of the ground realm passageways—both through access to the sky and through artificial lighting—is a very important design element as the plans are being finalized. 

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalSecond level PATH walkway with ground level woonerf below. Art wall at left. Image courtesy of Pinnacle International

Pontarini remarked that one of the walls opposite the second floor PATH walkway through the development, below a skylight and above the main ground level shared walkway and drop-off zone, is being explored as an opportunity for a major public art installation.

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalLooking south from the new public square to the Phase 2 podium with hotel lobby behind, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

With a considerable amount of design work still to do at ground level, more than one panel member stated the importance of creating a ground realm that reflected the importance of this development for the city, one citing Rockefeller Centre in New York and this city's Toronto Dominion Centre as examples of the weight that One Yonge will have in shaping our notions of this emerging area in the future. Summed up by the Chair, the Panel wants an exemplar here, a development that can be held up as the way to do it for future such large sites in Toronto.  

Pinnacle One Yonge, Toronto, by Hariri Pontarini for Pinnacle InternationalPinnacle One Yonge in context of Downtown Toronto, image courtesy of Pinnacle International

The updated designs revealed at yesterday's DRP meeting represent a major step forward for Pinnacle One Yonge, but there is much more to come. UrbanToronto will keep up on the evolving plans here, but in the meantime you can find more of the new renderings released yesterday in our database file for the project, linked below. You can get in on the conversation about the development by visiting its associated Forum threads, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.