By 2020, as reported by the University of Toronto, there will be the need for an additional 2,300 residence spots in order to maintain their first-year housing guarantee. To stay ahead of the upcoming demand, the U of T has already begun the process of buying up land and drafting plans—in partnership with The Daniels Corporation—for a series of new residence buildings set to go up in and around its St. George Campus in Downtown Toronto. The latest of these to come forward is a proposal for a 23-storey, 547-bed, mixed-use residence tower at 698-704 Spadina Avenue on the northwest corner at Sussex Avenue.

Spadina and Sussex Mixed-Use Residence, corner view, rendering courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

In mid-January at Sidney Smith Hall, a Community Consultation took place hosted by Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy, along with representatives from the U of T and Diamond Schmitt Architects (who have been retained for the project). The project's scope and size were outlined, community concerns over height, density, heritage, and impact on student life were addressed. In its current state, the new tower will replace two nineteenth-century commercial structures on the corner of Spadina and Sussex, including the current home of Ten Editions Bookstore, along with the adjacent 1950s-era structure which has been largely vacant since the departure of Canada Post a few years ago.

Spadina and Sussex Mixed-Use Residence, rear view, rendering courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

The 23-storey residence would incorporate a large variety of room types, the proposal calling for the 547 beds to be spread across 2-bedroom suites (380 beds), 4-bedroom suites (148 beds), 19 Residence Dons (19 beds), with an additional 15 townhouses to be adjoined to the tower on the west side of the site (seen above) reserved for families and participants in the Faculty-in-Residence Program. The proposed demographic breakdown would be 60% first-year students, 40% upper-year students, with a mixture of room types found on each floor. In addition to this, there would be 5,866 square feet of grade level retail along Spadina and Sussex, including a cafe and/or cafeteria at which students could use their meal plan cards, above which there would be included 27,104 square feet of office space.

Spadina and Sussex Mixed-Use Residence, street view showing retail and office space, rendering courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Beyond a host of accommodations aimed at promoting a positive student experience, from the mixed-use building plan, and decision to add practical amenities and retail choices, efforts towards environmental sustainability are extensive. The strategies listed at the Community Consultation include: heat recovery, low-flow and water-efficient fixtures, grey water reuse, super insulated low albedo roofing, LED lamps, solar shading, high-performance building envelope, and a 40% wall surface area limit for exterior glass. Taken as a whole, the new residence will aim to combine environmental sustainability with a positive student living experience. Viewed in the larger context of the city, and especially to the busy Spadina-Bloor area, as seen in the rendering below, the new residence will join other similar-sized structures, old and new, in the vicinity. 

Spadina and Sussex Mixed-Use Residence, context view, rendering courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

UrbanToronto will continue to provide coverage of this project as plans develop further and evolve to meet the demands of the community, up to and including potential heritage and density concerns that are likely to rear their head in the near future. For more information, check out our dataBase file, linked below. If you want to get in on the conversation you can join the discussion in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  COUNTERPOINT ENGINEERING, Diamond Schmitt Architects, NAK Design Strategies, The Daniels Corporation, University of Toronto