In October of 2013 Waterfront Toronto announced that the property to the immediate north of Corus Quay and northwest of the George Brown College Waterfront Campus would be the new home for the Waterfront Innovation Centre. Waterfront Toronto President and CEO John Campbell stated at the time that "A key part of our vision has been to make Toronto’s waterfront synonymous with innovation – from high-performance green buildings to smart infrastructure – we are building communities that are leading edge and future ready" and that "The next step in the development of the East Bayfront precinct is to create the Waterfront Innovation Centre. Working with a visionary development partner – someone who shares our desire to be a global leader in sustainability and design excellence – we will create an anchor development that will be home to the companies and institutions that are putting Toronto and Canada at the forefront of creating tomorrow’s technology today."

Waterfront Toronto's promotional material went on to say about the project that "It will be a unique opportunity for a visionary real estate developer to create 350,000 square feet of commercial space just steps from award-winning parks and public spaces like Canada’s Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common and residential developments underway at Monde and Aqualina. The Waterfront Innovation Centre will build on world-class infrastructure, including Canada’s first open-access ultra-high-speed broadband community network, which serves as the backbone for delivery of unique digital services like an online community portal and neighbourhood-wide Wi-Fi Internet connections. It is envisioned that the mixed-use community in East Bayfront will become a ‘living lab’ for the development and testing of digitally-enabled tools and applications."

All of this will be built just east of Jarvis Street and south of Queens Quay across where the Daniels Corporation is readying plans for their mixed-use Daniels Waterfront open space / retail/ office / institutional / residential development. A placeholder rendering of the building was released, and a Request For Qualification was issued.

Waterfront Innovation Centre, placeholder rendering, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

By the Spring of 2014 four proponents were advanced to the next round to prepare Request For Proposals. The teams were headed by

What is not known yet in each case is which architects teamed with which developers, other than in the case of Morguard, whose partner was Diamond Schmitt Architects. The Morguard/Diamond Schmitt design was not awarded the contract, but Diamond Schmitt submitted their design to World Architecture News Awards 2014 in the Future Buildings Commercial category, and have also made their renderings available to UrbanToronto.

Waterfront Innovation Centre, Aerial view of the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Diamond Schmitt said about their design "The fundamental design challenge facing the proposed Innovation Centre in Toronto is how to unify program across two separate plots of land divided by a municipal road and to create a fully functional facility with a singular vision."

Waterfront Innovation Centre, South elevation of the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects 

Waterfront Innovation Centre, Site plan of the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

The description of the Diamond Schmitt proposal continues, "The design response is to focus on the void between the two sites. An elliptical Boolean subtraction, aligned with the summer solstice, has carved an entrance plaza from a single mass that visually spans the two component areas. The Solstice Court provides a forecourt for the building entrances located on either side whilst becoming an extension of the adjacent Sugar Beach, an urban beach park on Toronto’s harbour. This connection to the landscape beyond serves to draw public engagement deep into the heart of the Innovation Centre. In support of this civic gesture, a woonerf is created, a thoroughfare without supremacy for the automobile: the edges of the roadway passing through this space are marked with low bollards, rolled curbs and a homogenous paving pattern to emphasize its pedestrian and civic qualities. At the northern edge of this space, a monumental arch, created as a result of the volumetric extraction, makes a spectacular gateway to the plaza and to the entire urban waterfront precinct beyond."

Waterfront Innovation Centre, Void at the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Waterfront Innovation Centre, View towards the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Diamond Schmitt's description concludes, "The four-storey bridge that spans the street, designed as an essential and seamless component of the building volume rather than a separate and distinct element, marries the two sites into one and completes the façade over the arch. This linking geometry creates the singular vision that the Innovation Centre requires and creates a powerful, holistic design to leverage and embrace its relationship with the waterfront. Intentionally massed at a heroic scale, the building is both sympathetic to and evocative of, the typology historically found in industrial waterfront buildings. This is a bold and inspiring architecture that embodies the creativity and innovative work of the tenants within."

Waterfront Innovation Centre, Interior of the Morguard competition entry, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

According to Waterfront Toronto's website, Menkes Developments Ltd. was awarded the contract in November for "Waterfront Innovation Centre Development Opportunity", but no public announcement has been made, nor have renderings of the winning design surfaced.

UrbanToronto will create a dataBase file for the project once the design is public, but in the meantime you can get in on the discussion of the project in our Forum thread, or you can leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  GFL Environmental Inc., Menkes Developments, Stephenson Engineering, Sweeny &Co Architects Inc., The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Waterfront Toronto