Details of a proposed 45-storey condo development at 411 Church Street can be found on the City of Toronto's website in a Planning Rationale Report by the Goldberg Group, recently commissioned for the owners of the site, the Church/Wood Residences Limited Partnership. Of particular interest, are the details surrounding the proposed architectural design of the podium and tower, designed by Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects. The new build would continue the changing face of the Church Street Corridor, and replace the current surface parking lot on the site. 

411 Church St, proposed design, Page+Steele/IBI Group Architects, Toronto, image courtesy of Page+Steele

Proposed for the southeast corner of Church and Wood, directly opposite Loblaws' and Ryerson's Maple Leafs Gardens site, the new structure in its current form could add 583 residential units spread across a 38-storey tower which would sit atop a 7-storey podium complete with lobby space, and ground-level retail facing onto Church and Wood. The second level is also proposed as either retail or commercial office space.

411 Church St, East Elevation, Page+Steele/IBI Group Architects, image courtesy of Page+Steele

The north and south sides of the tower would feature what the report refers to as distinct, "honeycomb balcony expression," which would continue down into the podium. The overall effect would be fashioned with an alternating, saw-tooth profile which would create the signature look. Sloped balcony dividers would connect between two levels to complete what the report promises to be an, "extremely dynamic" appearance that would be seen from virtually any vantage point.  

411 Church St, honeycomb pattern detail, Page+Steele/IBI Group Architects, image courtesy of Page+Steele

While the design elements are not expected to be an issue, the proposed height of the structure will likely be the cause of much debate as this proposal proceeds through the planning process. At 45 storeys, 411 Church would tower above its neighbours, including, perhaps most significantly, the adjacent Church Street Junior Public School to the north. Those opposed to the potential public concerns of height, density, and the related issues of shadows and overcrowding, will more than likely cite the City's recent reduction to 37 storeys of the planned project immediately to the south at 70 Carlton Street, as reason enough to be cautious of anything approaching (and especially exceeding) this height. Planners working for developer of 411 Church, on the other hand, as laid out in the Planning Report, cite the precedent of randomness of building heights in the Downtown overall, along with the fact that the prime Downtown site, close to rapid transit and other mixed-used structures is ideal for this intensity of development.  

Sun Shadow Study for March 21 Equinox, image courtesy of Page+Steele

The debate over height will likely focus—amidst the previously mentioned concerns over density, etc.—on the issue of how significant of an impact the tower will have on sunlight and shadows in the immediate vicinity (see above illustration), especially considering the proximity of the local public school which will have its playground in shadow for the majority of the afternoon from lunch to last bell. While the report does its best to assuage fears that the the school will be cast into permanent darkness (it will not), there will be segments of the day, ranging from one to three hours at a time depending on the season, that the school would be bathed in shadow.

Of special interest to the developer, is that the City, on its Downtown Vision Height Map in the Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Supplementary Guidelines suggests a 25-storey tower for this site. As seen in pale orange on the Sun and Shadow study above, even a 25-storey tower would blanket the school's playground in shadow, and the applicant could argue that therefore there is no additional concern with building higher than that. (The purple area represents the additional shadow of the 45-storey proposal at various hours.)

In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the plans for 411 Church evolve. As of yet, details have been rather sparse, as only one rendering exists, and the identity of the developer has yet to be public. While it is a safe bet that City Hall will reject the project in its current form, the negotiation process, as ever, will likely provide those interested with much to discuss. 

For more details, check out our dataBase file, linked below. You can get in on the discussion by visiting the associated Forum thread, or you can leave a comment in the space provided on this page. Urban Toronto will continue to keep you posted as the story continues to unfold. 

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