The Sheraton Centre at sidewalk level is arguably the worst building in downtown Toronto--a dismal failure. Its York Street side is merely parking, presenting nothing to the pedestrian. Bollards evidently had to be installed so cars wouldn't simply drive out of the building onto any part of the sidewalk. The Richmond Street side is almost entirely composed of sterile and featureless concrete walls with some uninviting pedestrian entrances, plastered over windows, and parking garage entrances. The York Street side is a short block, but on Richmond and Queen, it's quite long. You can barely see where it ends in this street view
Aesthetically, the Sheraton Centre looks best on Queen at street level, but again, it's a failure
, composed of a parking lot entrance, blank concrete walls, and anonymous windows. The only decent part is along Queen Street, east of the main pedestrian entrance: a podium with interesting design and storefronts
. But the storefronts seem belittled by the architecture and yet another parking lot entrance (this time a unique ramp from Queen that runs parallel with the roadway); their success is compromised by the general atmosphere of indifference or even hostility that the poorly conceived architecture at sidewalk level results in. At the very eastern edge, there's this shopping entrance that looks so sterile, dark, and uninviting. The Sheraton Centre is awful at sidewalk level and degrades the pedestrian experience at a prominent location along Queen Street West, but also along York and Richmond Streets.
Perhaps the idea behind the architecture was of a downtown where the sidewalk no longer mattered, where pedestrians would walk through basements and +15 corridors. After all, there's a bridge that connects the elevated walkways of Nathan Phillips Square to the hotel where its beautiful podium rooftop garden is located. Except that the entrance is locked, rendering even this positive feature of the pedestrian environment impotent. The sidewalk level of the Sheraton Centre should be completely redesigned to make the pedestrian experience more engaging and to restore a positive sense of place across from Nathan Phillips Square.