The Junction was—for some time—one of those best-kept secrets of Toronto. The neighbourhood has been slowly gentrifying since around the turn of the millennium though, when a historic ban on the serving of alcohol was lifted, and has become something of a hotspot for artists and artisans since.

The latest rendering of what DUKE will look like, as designed by Quadrangle Architects. Courtesy of TAS.

Despite its growing popularity, the neighbourhood has not seen a lot of development. TAS's upcoming DUKE project, therefore, is and will be significant beyond its architectural and planning merits. Last Monday, TAS invited the local BIA to their showroom across the street from the DUKE site—on DUndas St east of KEele—to take a sneak peak at what DUKE will offer to both the neighborhood and its residents, and UrbanToronto managed to score an invite to the event!

Mazyar Mortazavi sits down with Urban Toronto to discuss all things DUKE. Photo by Craig White

“What we liked about the Junction was that you could begin to see cafes emerging, and galleries starting to pop up. You have great access to the park systems, which to us is really important, coupled with great transit,” said Mazyar Mortazavi, President and CEO of TAS, in an interview before the event started. “The combination of the established characteristics of the neighbourhood with the emerging vibe are what really drew us to this neighbourhood.”

Interior shot of the DUKE sales office and show room, designed by Mason studios. Photo courtesy of TAS.

DUKE will be a seven storey building that will be built at 2803 Dundas St West, the former home of McBride Cycle. Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the mixed-use building will feature 85 condominum units, as well as two town homes and five live/work lofts at the rear. The building will offer an exercise gym and entertainment/dining room (including an outdoor barbeque) as amenities, along with substantial bicycle parking. As part of TAS's four pillars of sustainability, DUKE will also be built to a LEED Silver standard, including a green roof and harvest planters on the south-facing terraces. Despite how recently sales for the building have opened, as of Monday evening 32 of the 85 condo units inside had already been snapped up.

A sneak peak at the kitchen furnishing for units inside of DUKE! Photo courtesy of TAS.

TAS says they're committed to being more than in the community, but part of the thriving neighbourhood.

“As we go into new neighbourhoods, we're really there as a guest. We're not there to tell the neighbourhood what's good for them, but we're there to learn from them and to try and become part of that fabric,” said Mortazavi. “We try and get involved and engaged so it is a mutual benefit from a development standpoint. It's looking at it with a city-building lens, as opposed to a development standpoint alone.”

A sneak peak at the bathroom furnishing for units inside of DUKE! Photo courtesy of TAS.

In addition to their help in holding the Junction Flea market, on Monday evening, they were serving both locally produced eats (from Jayne's Gourmet Catering) and a locally brewed ale (from Junction Craft Brewing). Even the fantastic showroom, filled with novels and trinkets which help capture the whimsy of the neighbourhood, was locally designed.

“We partnered with Paul Mercer of Smash for the Junction Flea market, and it evolved from there. We started looking for a team for our presentation centre, and we connected with Mason Studio. We got them involved with the design process. Through them, we connected to the broader artisan community in the area.”

Event staff, TAS personal, and members of the Junction BIA mingle in the showroom. Photo by Craig White

The proposed development and TAS themselves have been well received by the community thus far. Kristina Skindelyte, Executive Director of the Junction BIA, said at the opening on Monday that TAS has been very receptive to working with the community.

“We were approached on day one. They've been a great partner, and allowed us to use the site for community events. They've been a good neighbour.”

A model of what DUKE will look like, roughly looking west, designed by Quadrangle Architects. Photo by Craig White

While it's unlikely that DUKE's entry into the Junction will spur a rash of construction (fractured ownership of lots along the street has long been the scourge of new development along Official Plan designated Avenues like much of Dundas St. W), it will hopefully set a precedent of quality that new development should aim for in the area. Mid-rise construction in Toronto has been slow to catch on, and there are currently few great examples of the city's Avenues and Mid-Rise Guidelines in practice. From that perspective, DUKE may serve as an example of how to incorporate mid-rise into an existing mixture of low-rise buildings, many of which have historical character.

A model of what DUKE will look like roughly looking north-east, designed by Quadrangle Architects. Photo by Craig White

Unlike the last significant development in the area (St. John Lofts, which was built in 2000), DUKE's step back at the fifth floor and its brick facade should make it a better fit along Dundas West alongside the low-rise buildings that surround it. But the building's design, such as its articulated facade and use of white brick, rather than the abundant red brick that categorized many buildings in the Junction, is also aiming to stand out from its nearby peers.

“To us, it's not about mimicking what the neighbourhood is about, but instead paying homage to the characteristics of the neighbourhood. DUKE is a take on that as opposed to a copy of it.”

Exterior shot of 2803 Dundas West, the sales office where the event took place! Photo courtesy of TAS.

You can find out more about DUKE in UrbanToronto's dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to talk about the project? Choose one of the associated Forum thread links, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  BDP Quadrangle, Ontario Panelization, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc.