The proposal for the Mirvish+Gehry development has been polarizing ever since it was first presented. Proponents of the Projectcore development argue that Toronto needs to get over its timidity, and that the city desperately needs this injection of world-class  Gehry Partners architecture to support its world-class status. Others cite the cultural amenities the development would provide, including an OCADU campus expansion with public theatre, and a 60,000 sq ft art gallery.

Mirvish+Gehry south elevation, image courtesy of Projectcore

Those who oppose the development do so mainly because it endangers four heritage-designated buildings currently on site. The Eclipse Whitewear, Anderson, Gillett, and Reid buildings, between John Street and the Princess of Wales Theatre on King Street West would have to be demolished in order to commence construction of the Mirvish+Gehry towers.

City Planning Staff had another complaint: at the Toronto and East York Community Council meeting on November 19th, city planners declared the Mirvish+Gehry development 'too dense' for the neighbourhood. This was the only analysis the City was able to present at the meeting, because while they have commenced research, city planners have yet to complete a Heritage Conservation District study, a Built Form Review, a transportation study, and a Community Services and Facilities study.

Streetscape comparison of current and proposed Mirvish+Gehry Toronto. Image courtesy of Projectcore

The project has now been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) because City Planning Staff did not complete the zoning bylaw application review within the 120 day timeline set in the Planning Act. Local Ward 20 Councillor Adam Vaughan states "I am deeply concerned that on this case, not only will decisions be made by an unelected body with no Toronto context, it looks like it will be made without a solid analysis."

Looking north, Mirvish+Gehry Toronto, image courtesy of Projectcore

A motion put forward by Councillor Vaughan, and subsequently supported by Council, asks the Mirvish and Gehry team to continue negotiations on the project until the next City Council meeting on December 16. An issue that Councillor Adam Vaughan feels should be addressed is the lost employment capacity on the site. Historically, Councillor Vaughan has been a big proponent of developers integrating  or maintaining commercial space into their redevelopments. While the Mirvish+Gehry project will certainly create long-term jobs through OCADU, the art gallery, support and maintenance staff, and so on, it will also be displacing a myriad of existing businesses and their employees.

With many high-density developments having been built in the area in the last while, the infrastructure of the neighbourhood is already straining, so tacking on another 2700 residential units will just further exacerbate things critics argue. Many are already calling for wider sidewalks, bike lanes, improved transit, daycare and meeting space amenities and even water and hydro upgrades to be implemented before we should even consider a development on the scale of Mirvish+Gehry to be built. Others believe that without a Mirvish+Gehry type project to spur change, it may never come. However grand the proposed Mirvish+Gehry development is, many argue that it is indeed short-sighted to okay the project without completing the research of how it would affect the quality of life in the area.

Want to know more about the project? Click on our dataBase file for Mirvish+Gehry Toronto, linked below, for piles of renderings and lots of information. Want to talk about it? You can get in on the discussion in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Brandon Communications, Dream Unlimited, Gehry Partners, Great Gulf, MMM Group Limited, Montana Steele, Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects, Projectcore, Quadrangle, RJC Engineers, Westdale Properties, WSP