New details have been revealed through planning documents of the proposed Phase 2 of the Bay Park Centre at 141 Bay Street, one of downtown Toronto's most anticipated new office developments. There has been plenty of speculation for some time about the project, which will comprise two large towers straddling the rail corridor at the foot of Bay Street, connected by an elevated park spanning the tracks. The Hines and Ivanhoé-Cambridge development, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects of London, UK and Adamson Associates of Toronto, is divided into two phases, with Phase 1 (81 Bay Street) having already been approved, and Phase 2 (141 Bay Street) currently working its way through the planning process.
Phase 1 of the development proposes a 48-storey office tower to replace the parking lot at 45 Bay Street, which will include retail in the podium; a new Metrolinx GO Bus Terminal, relocated from its current site at 141 Bay; space allocated for an expanded Union LRT station in anticipation of the future East Bayfront LRT line; and a PATH connection to the Air Canada Centre to the west. As well, the development will include an elevated park that spans across the rail corridor to the north, with a short structure on the north side of the tracks providing stairway and elevator access. The tower itself will rise 48 storeys and will feature a diagrid structure on its facade divided into two stacks, with the north stack containing an additional six storeys for a mechanical penthouse topping off at 238 metres (781 feet) above street level. It will be designed according to LEED Platinum standards. Further details on 81 Bay Street can be found in a previous article by UrbanToronto (when the development was retaining the 45 Bay address), where the project was outlined in planning documents released by the City.
Phase 2 of the Bay Park Centre proposes a 54-storey office tower at 141 Bay Street on the current site of the GO Bus Terminal. The tower will sit atop a seven-storey base building and will provide 131,622 square metres of new office space, with 4450 square metres of retail and amenity space on the ground level and fourth floor. In addition, 440 new parking spaces will be provided in a five-storey underground parking garage.
Located on a narrow rectangular site, the building will span nearly the entire block between Bay Street to the west and Yonge Street to the east. A notable aspect of 141 Bay is its proposed cantilever over the rail corridor to the south by approximately 7-10 metres. An agreement with Metrolinx for the air rights has already been reached, and the cantilever will begin roughly 10 metres above track level incorporating over 15,000 square metres of floor space. Contrary to early renderings of the proposal, the tower is set back 6 metres from the property line to the north, and does not touch the historic Dominion Public Building, with which it shares a private laneway.
The public realm around the building is set for a major makeover. The main pedestrian access to the building will be from the west along Bay Street, where the main lobby of the building is located. In addition to the stairway and elevator access to the elevated park included as part of Phase 1, this area will also be home to a new ground level privately-owned public space (POPS) filling the open plaza created by the 9-metre setback of the building. This public space will feature a canopy at the fifth floor, in keeping with the design of the neighbouring 81 Bay. The laneway to the north will be redesigned to be more pedestrian-friendly, with a proposed third access point for the elevated park, and direct access to five retail units in the eastern portion of the base building. The east end of the building will be used for parking and loading dock access, with another POPS located along Yonge Street.
The tower will be located toward the western edge of the site, with the seven-storey podium stretching further along to the east. The building will mimic the design of the tower at 81 Bay by featuring a diagrid structure on the facade divided into two stacks, with the western stack rising four storeys higher to house a mechanical penthouse and topping off at 265 metres. The nearly identical twin towers of 81 and 141 Bay, straddling the rail corridor and connected by an elevated park, promise to create a rather unique gateway for trains entering into Union Station.
An important aspect of any downtown project is its relationship with the surrounding buildings, and 141 Bay acknowledges this with allowances for the extension of the PATH network. A PATH connection to the west directly to Union Station is proposed on the second level of the building, with a bridge spanning across Bay Street. As well, space will be provided within the podium to extend a PATH connection from the second floor east across Yonge Street to connect with the nearly completed Backstage Condos.
The proposal for 141 Bay still has a long way to go through the approvals process before construction gets underway. The project is currently going through the zoning amendment application process, as the current zoning regulations do not allow a tower of that height or land use to be constructed on the site. A long list of urban impacts and qualities are being reviewed by the City, including public realm and pedestrian design, transportation and traffic impacts, shadow studies, capacity of existing city services to accommodate the proposal, and consistency with the official plans and policies in place for the area and the city.
Noteworthy issues include the heritage impact of the building—given its location within the Union Station Heritage Conservation District and its proximity to landmark heritage structures—and separation distance between the tower and the existing zoning permissions on the adjacent site to the north (in 1996, the OMB approved an application for a tower above the Dominion Public Building at a height of 137 metres, which was never built; the zoning amendment, however, still stands, and if both this tower and 141 Bay are ever built out, their separation would only be 12 metres).
As 81 Bay nears the end of the approvals process, and 141 Bay slowly makes its way through the procedures, we can only speculate on the exciting new possibilities that this project will bring to light. The Bay Park Centre proposal is one of the first in decades to encroach on the coveted air space above the rail corridor, and may set a precedent for future developments in the city by unlocking valuable new land in the crowded downtown core.
As more information becomes available, UrbanToronto will keep you updated. Further information and renderings of the project can be found in our dataBase file, linked below. If you would like to get in on the discussion, choose the associated Forum thread link, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.