There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the new plan for St. Lawrence Market North, the highly anticipated renewal project that will see a complete demolition of the current structure located at Front and Jarvis. Let’s take a look at how the project has developed thus far in today’s Project of the Day.

St. Lawrence Market North in Toronto

The St. Lawrence Market has been an icon of Toronto since its early days — in 1803 the first wooden market was built where the current North Market/St. Lawrence Hall stands. The wooden building was eventually demolished and replaced multiple times, until the structure we currently see was built in 1968. While its cement floors, open-concept plan and hulking monumentality may be practical, it’s not the most visually appealing structure, and doesn’t reflect or complement the surrounding district’s historic aesthetic.

St. Lawrence Market North in 1885 looking northwest with St. James Cathedral in background, image from Wikimedia

In 2009 then-mayor David Miller and area councillor Pam McConnell announced an open call for architects to submit plans for a new St. Lawrence Market Complex, consisting of a new North Market that connects to the historic St. Lawrence Hall and echoes the existing South Market. The final five entries were colour-coded, creating a visually interesting design competition that gripped many of us in the urban design community.

The 'Orange' entry, one of the five finalists

The winning design was announced in 2010 as the Red Design, by Adamson Associates Architects and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The design proposes a four-storey North Market, increasing the market complex’s street presence by leaps and bounds. The current building program, being the farmers market and Sunday antique market, will remain on the ground floor while the upper levels will contain Toronto Court Services and administrative offices. It will include underground parking, taking the burden off of the overcrowded South Market parking garage in the process.

Cross section of proposed North Market

The architects clearly drew inspiration from the traditional urban market vocabulary; two long structures with pitched roofs extend north from Front Street towards St. Lawrence Hall, creating an open concept market space on the ground floor. A covered walkway divides the building in two, framing the restored St. Lawrence Hall to the north, and providing a view of the South Market as well. Emphasis on ventilation and natural light is seen in the extensive use of glass and flexible window-walls, however the building retains the sturdy appearance of traditional markets through exterior metal frames, which are positioned in order to take advantage of the low winter sun, while blocking out the summer heat.

Interior looking north towards St. Lawrence Hall

Exterior frame of North Market

Like most city projects, we’re seeing quite a delay from the original proposal. Construction was slated to begin in 2010, then pushed to 2011, and now according to recent forum discussion will not commence until 2012/2013, with construction completed by 2016. While we may not be seeing any activity on-site for another year, you can bet there will be some pretty heated discussions going on in the UrbanToronto project forum. If you want to see more great renderings, check out the dataBase listing below. 

Related Companies:  Adamson Associates Architects, City of Toronto, entro, Entuitive, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners