It appears that Toronto's thriving Discovery District is set to grow once again: the Hospital for Sick Children has officially launched plans for expansion with a proposal to construct a new 22-storey tower on their campus, followed by a second phase that would add another tower to the complex at a future date. Dubbed Project Horizon, the first phase of the development would see the existing 1983-built 8-storey Elizabeth McMaster Building on the corner of Elm and Elizabeth streets demolished and replaced with a new Patient Support Centre (PSC), which would greatly increase the available space for the institution.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoRendering of the Patient Support Centre, image courtesy of SickKids.

The PSC tower is designed by Stantec Architecture with KPMB Architects, with Urban Strategies taking care of the planning analysis. The development would add 44,520 square metres (479,200 square feet) of gross floor area, rising 22 storeys to an approximate height of 99 metres, resulting in a 19.6 Floor Space Index. The new building would provide space to consolidate and permanently house many of the administrative and education functions at SickKids. As well, the tower would provide two floors of decanting space to facilitate the second expansion phase.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoSouth elevation of the Patient Support Centre, image courtesy of SickKids.

Once occupancy of the PSC is complete, Phase Two can begin. It would see the Black and Hill Wings, part of the original hospital building fronting onto University Avenue, demolished and replaced with a new Patient Care Centre (PCC) tower. The Burton Wing of the hospital will be renovated prior to demolition to provide additional decanting space. The hospital's needs have outgrown their aging facilities, requiring the construction of the new clinical PCC tower, which will expand and upgrade key hospital services. Only Phase One - the PSC tower - has been submitted to City Planning at the moment, and it is presumed that the future PCC tower phase will be submitted at a later date.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, Toronto

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoConceptual phasing of Project Horizon, image courtesy of SickKids.

The Phase One PSC tower is the subject of an Official Plan Amendment and rezoning application, so plans at this point in time are focused mainly on the massing and scale of the tower, with details about its architectural finishes likely to be finalized at a later date.

The lower three floors of the building are recessed to provide a generous 7-metre sidewalk at ground level, which includes new landscaping and public realm improvements. The bulk of the tower above will then be built out to the property line, projecting over the expanded sidewalk, with a mechanical penthouse and green roof on top. The mechanical levels on the roof of the building have been sculpted so as not to impede on the protected view of City Hall, as seen looking north from Nathan Phillips Square.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoRendering of the Patient Support Centre, image courtesy of SickKids.

The existing pedestrian bridge over Elizabeth Street connecting the Slaight Atrium to the Elizabeth McMaster Building would be replaced with a new two-storey pedestrian bridge leading to the third and fourth floors of the PSC tower. The ground floor lobby will feature a soaring 5.6-metre ceiling, with the second and third floors providing a generous 4.5-metre height, creating a grand entrance into the new tower.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoView of the streetscape improvements along Elizabeth Street, image courtesy of SickKids.

Furthermore, the PSC tower will connect to the adjacent Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning, ensuring a continuous circulation flow from one end of the hospital to the other.

SickKids, Stantec, KPMB Architects, Project Horizon, TorontoCross-section showing circulation through the SickKids campus, image courtesy of SickKids.

As the application has just recently been submitted, it is expected that the design of the tower will be tweaked and modified as it moves through the City's planning process, and that more information will become available as the project progresses. We will keep you updated on any news of Project Horizon as it becomes available, but in the meantime, you can join in the discussion by checking out the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.