Union Centre | 274.18m | 52s | Westbank | Bjarke Ingels Group

WislaHD

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 21, 2013
Messages
8,630
Reaction score
6,204
Location
Midtown Toronto
I'm not at all opposed to the general design of this, except that it's so broad. I think it should be slimmed down and made taller.
Agreed.

It is difficult to describe it as bulky because it is rather thin, but it is pretty wide.

Eh, it is different at least, and maybe I will learn to like the shape on the skyline.
 

Uncle Martin

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
20
Reaction score
26
Location
Dinosaur World
Why hire one of the world’s most imaginative architects to design — in Westbank's words — a “utilitarian” building? That seems counterproductive. Why not harness BIG’s creative prowess to the greatest extent, a la KING Toronto? So far this is humdrum; not a humdinger.

If they are looking to create a utilitarian building, Toronto is replete with an all star/dream team cast of players to choose from: Kirkor, IBI Group, Giannone Petricone, Graziani + Corazza, etc. Why hire a prodigy two deliver a mayonnaise sandwich on Wonderbread?

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail article that was linked a few pages back: "This is architecture designed for, and by, people who wear sneakers to work." And sweatpants?

The crown is reminiscent of Hariri Pontarini's 169 The Donway West:


Image source: Urban Toronto
 

ushahid

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Messages
2,319
Reaction score
1,589
Location
Vernon, BC
project database says "developer: Allied properties REIT". is WestBank not involved in this? cause I saw renders in WestBank's Instagram story.
ps: most of these people complaining about the design of this project are the same people that were cheering for CC3 last week. LOL!
 

Uncle Martin

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
20
Reaction score
26
Location
Dinosaur World
project database says "developer: Allied properties REIT". is WestBank not involved in this? cause I saw renders in WestBank's Instagram story.
ps: most of these people complaining about the design of this project are the same people that were cheering for CC3 last week. LOL!
Both are incredibly underwhelming, especially when one considers the talent behind both proposals; though, I realize that the CC3 proposal will undergo more refinements. Hopefully the same will happen with this project because this is not off to a good start.
 

gabe

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
Messages
3,276
Reaction score
557
Haha, what whole trees and huge branches will be flying off this building every time there is a wind storm?
How many trees do you have on your property? I have five, and every wind storm I'm picking up branches, some branches are so big i have to use a chainsaw to chop them up . Now imagine if they fell off a 200m+ building to the ground?

Don't ignore climate change. We have had some pretty crazy weather in Toronto in recent years, Ice storms, wind storms, plus snow/thrunder storms, which can cause a lot of damage to trees.
 

ushahid

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
Messages
2,319
Reaction score
1,589
Location
Vernon, BC
^we had 2 tornados in Ottawa last September and a tree branch crashed through my neighbor's patio door at 14 floor.
 

travis3000

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
638
Reaction score
347
Both are incredibly underwhelming, especially when one considers the talent behind both proposals; though, I realize that the CC3 proposal will undergo more refinements. Hopefully the same will happen with this project because this is not off to a good start.
I disagree completely. This tower is stunning! Lights, nature/trees, modern industrial feel, huge floor plates, epic addition to the skyline. What more do you want!?!
 

jje1000

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 19, 2007
Messages
4,793
Reaction score
2,205
IMO the bigger issue with the trees comes with their viability due to their exposure, and the inevitable requirement for replacement.

While there have been some comparisons made to Singapore, I have to say that those comparisons are missing some points. Rooftop vegetation works in subtropical Singapore, where the climate is warmer, the air more humid, and where trees will literally grow anywhere even if you don't ask them to- but in cold and windy Toronto? Much harder to do IMO.

Heck, a few years ago, it took some considerable logistics and cost about half a million to replace an oak tree which had died on top of a 17-floor Vancouver condo, which I would consider a fairly temperate climate compared to Toronto. The previous tree died after a single season of drought. On top of that, they had to redo the degraded waterproofing- which is always a concern with rooftop plants (think of College Park's renovations, the vegetation chosen there was chosen as it was expected that the waterproofing membrane would need to be replaced again in the future)- does this mean that the trees have a definitive lifespan?

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/oak-tree-with-554k-price-tag-hoisted-to-top-of-condo-building-1.3661213

Now think about the trees on this building- how are we going to replace them? A crane (not currently present)? Stuffing the trees into the elevators? Is there going to have to be some shelter created for trees to help them survive their first few years? It's really more trouble than it's worth- I would not be surprised if these trees disappeared in the next refinement of Union Centre (or became containerized shrubs).

This article from a few years back puts it into words clearly:

There are plenty of scientific reasons why skyscrapers don’t—and probably won’t—have trees, at least not to the heights which many architects propose. Life sucks up there. For you, for me, for trees, and just about everything else except peregrine falcons. It’s hot, cold, windy, the rain lashes at you, and the snow and sleet pelt you at high velocity. Life for city trees is hard enough on the ground. I can’t imagine what it’s like at 500 feet, where nearly every climate variable is more extreme than at street level.

Wind is perhaps the most formidable force trees face at that elevation. Ever seen trees on the top of a mountain? Their trunks bow away from the prevailing winds. That may be the most visible effect, but it’s not the most challenging. Wind also interrupts the thin layer of air between a leaf and the atmosphere, known as the boundary layer. The boundary layer is tiny by human standards—it operates on a scale small enough that normally slippery gas particles behave like viscous fluids.

For plants, the boundary layer serves to control evapotranspiration, or the loss of gas and water through the tiny pores on a leaf’s underside, known as stomata. In calm conditions, a comfortably thick boundary layer can exist on a perfectly smooth leaf. But plants that live in hot or windy places often have adaptations to deal with the harsh conditions, including tiny hairs on their leaves that expand each leaf’s surface area and thus its boundary layer. Still, plants in these environments aren’t usually tall and graceful. In other words, not the tall trees we see in architectural drawings.

Next let’s add extreme heat and cold to the mix. Extreme cold, well, we all know what that does. It can kill a plant by turning the water inside its cells into lethal, crystalline knives. At the other end, hot conditions post a different set of challenges. To cool off, plants can “sweat” by opening their stomata to release water vapor, at least as long as there’s water available. But even then, plants reach a limit. At certain temperatures, which vary from plant to plant, the photosynthetic machinery inside a leaf starts to break down. Keep in mind these are temperatures on the surface of a leaf, not ambient air temperature. The surface of a leaf—especially in direct sunlight, as on the unshaded side of a skyscraper—can be many degrees hotter than the air, up to 14 degrees C in some species (nearly 26 degrees F).

Then there are the logistical concerns. How are these trees going to be watered and fertilized? Pruned? How will they be replaced? How often will they need to be replaced? As someone who grows bonsai, I can tell you that stressed plants require constant attention—daily monitoring, in fact, and sometimes even more frequently. It’s not easy. Growing simple green roofs is a chore, and those plants are chosen for their hardiness and low maintenance. Trees are generally not as well-adapted to the wide range of conditions likely to be experienced on the side of a skyscraper.
 
Last edited:

Uncle Martin

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
20
Reaction score
26
Location
Dinosaur World
I disagree completely. This tower is stunning! Lights, nature/trees, modern industrial feel, huge floor plates, epic addition to the skyline. What more do you want!?!
Something reflective of Bjarke’s greatest imagination. Some supple lines would also be welcome. This proposal looks like it could have been designed by any run of the mill firm. I am not seeing the originality or verve that I would expect from one of the world’s leading architects. I find this design extremely boring and far below the capability of its architect.

When one hires such a name as Bjarke Ingels, you’d expect him to be given the freedom to shoot for the stars. Why restrain him, resulting in a product that falls far below what we have come to expect of his work? It seems unjustifiable to spend the money commissioning such an architect, only to squander his talents, when a similar upshot could be achieved with a lesser known, cheaper architect.

It is also disappointing to waste a prime piece of land on such a lacklustre building. I can’t figure out the rationale behind wanting to hire BIG and then do a utilitarian building, and at such a prominent location, to boot.
 

TheTigerMaster

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 3, 2012
Messages
12,679
Reaction score
5,043
Location
Best Toronto
That’s like saying that the presence of cladding in a building’s renderings is a distraction. The trees are integral to the design. You’ve alleged that there won’t be any trees and I’ve provided examples demonstrating that when BIG includes trees in a building’s design, they deliver trees when built. Not including them is not considering the tower as it will be built.
The trees are integral to the design... until a recession hits, forcing cutbacks and “temporary” suspension of the tree maintenance permanently.

Now I do definitely like the tree feature, but I think it’s also important to consider the design of buildings absent any maintainance-intensive features.
 
Last edited:

WeirdFishes

Active Member
Member Bio
Joined
Jan 24, 2009
Messages
550
Reaction score
164
How many trees do you have on your property? I have five, and every wind storm I'm picking up branches, some branches are so big i have to use a chainsaw to chop them up . Now imagine if they fell off a 200m+ building to the ground?

Don't ignore climate change. We have had some pretty crazy weather in Toronto in recent years, Ice storms, wind storms, plus snow/thrunder storms, which can cause a lot of damage to trees.
Are your trees surrounded by glass?

"wth deep, plumbed planters, and with both glass or trellis walls sheltering plants and trees from direct wind"

Honestly, we get something cool and people here still sh*t all over it. Personally, the project seems very promising and I am excited to read more about it and see how it evolves through the approval process.
 

Top