Hotel in the Garden is now Hotel X. Exhibition Place and its partner HKHotels LLC have released new renderings showing a complete redesign of the proposal with a new architectural firm. The first design presented to Exhibition Place in 2009 led by Toronto based architect Rocco Maragna and landscape architects gh3, was subsequently expanded upon in partnership with NORR Architects/Engineers/Planners and the introduction of Dillon Consulting Limited as the Landscape Architect and Civil/Traffic Engineer. Archaeological Services Inc. was employed by the consortium as the Heritage Consultant. Following presentation of the design to the City of Toronto Design Review Panel, HKH and its consultants worked diligently with the City planning staff to address the Panel's recommendations. The execution of the project continues to be overseen by NORR Architects and now includes New York based Stephen B. Jacobs Group.
As part of the ongoing effort to upgrade the infrastructure at Exhibition Place, the addition of a hotel is a vital element of the site's strategic plan. Intended to reinforce the year round functionality of Exhibition Place, the hotel is also a valuable asset in the effort to attract business to the district's substantial and well-equipped event space. In addition to the redesign, the height of the project has also been reduced from 26 to 23 storeys in order to accommodate an emergency "escape route" for flights bound for Billy Bishop Airport. Despite the decrease in height, the number of rooms will remain substantial at 400 as the floor plates have been reconfigured to support additional units on each floor. Retained from the original proposal is the addition of a landscaped plaza in front of the Stanley Barracks as well as a restoration and repurposing of the historic building. Work on upgrading the barracks will commence once the hotel is completed and is subject to approval from the city's heritage department. Additionally, the building will be designed to meet Toronto's Green Standard for new construction.
Renderings for the original design can be found below:
In place of the cubist form and white fritted glass facade, the new design exchanges subtlety and lightness for clutter and weight. Given the extensive experience the Stephen B Jacobs Group has with hotel design, their choice should promise a functionally well-executed project even if the design is controversial. Having already been redesigned to respond to the criticisms of the Design Review Panel, notice of approval conditions have been issued by the City Planning Department. As such, this latest incarnation of the project will regrettably not be subject to further scrutiny by the panel.
Construction is expected to commence in January 2013 with a target completion date of May 2015.
More renderings and closer-up views of the current design can be found in UrbanToronto's dataBase entry for the project, linked below. If you would like to get in on the discussion about this project, choose the associated link to our Projects & Construction Forum thread.
Urban Toronto would like to thank Dianne Young (CEO of Exhibition Place) for her feedback and comments on the project which we have incorporated into the article.