Toronto Florence Booth House | 19.56m | 4s | The Salvation Army | DTAH

ADRM

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Lovely revitalization project apparently being led by DTAH (do they have in-house architecture to do work at this scale?) at Florence Booth House, at 723 Queen West.

DTAH blog post about it here.

DTAH have been working with The Salvation Army on the revitalization of Florence Booth House, an emergency shelter for unhoused cis and trans women. The shelter provides shelter and basic needs to unhoused women in the City of Toronto, including three meals per day, a bed, clothing as available, personal hygiene products and a weekly nursing clinic.

The new Florence Booth House, designed by DTAH, retains the original 1910 façade along Tecumseh and will include: additional beds to accommodate more residents each night; greater privacy for residents; spacious kitchen, dining and washroom facilities; additional resident program support space, including a multi-purpose room; and, private, secure outdoor space for residents.

The new accessible facility will include:
- Additional beds to accommodate more residents each night
- Greater privacy for residents
- Spacious kitchen, dining and washroom facilities
- Additional resident program support space, including a multi-purpose room
- Private, secure outdoor space for residents

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Today:

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There will be a need for relocation of the utility boxes on Tecumseth, just north of the lane way. I look forward to seeing this project completed. The some of the detailing of the queen facade would have been nice to have kept,/incorporated into the new building, i always felt that that stretch of building imposing on the corner. still undecided if it will continue to feel imposing or not. Hopefully the white brick and extra glass will make the corner feel more open.
 
They certainly know how to make nice pictures (just look at that beautiful streetcar). DTAH is a great firm with beautiful designs (Ottawa Capital Urban Design, Toronto Waterfront, Evergreen Brick Works), but this is clearly a 20th century box with austere windows and a lack of architectural expression. It fits in neatly and the bricks are nice, but I prefer the heritage building over this.
 
I'd also be saddened to lose the Queen St. building. It’s 101 years old.

I'm normally a huge defender of heritage buildings, but I don't think this one is particularly special. Its replacement looks like it will be an improvement.
 
I'm kind of on the fence here, and find it to be an even trade-off between these two options. DTAH have designed a nice new concept that I'd gladly accept. While the existing heritage building would for sure have great value with a proper brick cleaning, improved Queen street level frontage, along with cornice and roof element restorations. Perhaps the end product may have been due to budgetary constraints or just other considerations altogether.
 
I’m sure they have both budgetary and programmatic reasons for wanting to bring the building down. I really do think though we’d be losing an important little piece of Queen Street if we simply start over here.

The goals of the organization are obviously important ones. I’d just hope they’d explore a less heavy-handed approach to what’s on the site. It is currently a listed building (in a heritage conservation district). personally I’d prefer if it was actually designated and then worked with.
 
Bit confused by the render... are they relocating a portion of the heritage facade from the Queen and Tecumseh corner, to the back of the building? Or is the "heritage retention" actually a new build based on what it looked like in 1910. The 'heritage' portion of the render isn't a match for the existing Queen Street arches* along the top (maybe these* arches were later add-ons?).
 
It stands out to me that DTAH describe it as a shelter for "cis and trans women", since the Salvation Army has repeatedly been accused of transphobia over the years. I sincerely hope this is part of an effort from the SA to be more inclusive.

That aside – looks architecturally pretty decent. Agree that it's a shame to lose the Queen St frontage, but that's possibly just nostalgia on my part; it is pretty imposing as-is, and it would be great to open up that intersection more and have it feel more welcoming, both to the people working/shopping in the area and to the people who need these services. I hope the brick detailing lives up to the promise.

Bit confused by the render... are they relocating a portion of the heritage facade from the Queen and Tecumseh corner, to the back of the building? Or is the "heritage retention" actually a new build based on what it looked like in 1910. The 'heritage' portion of the render isn't a match for the existing Queen Street arches* along the top (maybe these* arches were later add-ons?).

The heritage portion they're retaining is the bit further south on Tecumseth, right beside the laneway between this site and Urban Mode.
 
This is a very nice proposal. As to the heritage… The Queen Street façade is really nothing special. To retain (or, realistically reconstruct) it would be a waste.
 

Public presentation from Nov 2020:

 

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