Last year, a 42-storey condominium tower was proposed for the northeast corner of Church and Shuter in Downtown Toronto. Replacing a surface parking lot fronting the corner and a three-storey commercial office building at 187-189 Church Street to the north, the Menkes project's 131-metre height presented an impediment to the St. Michael's Flight Path, hindering helicopter access for the nearby hospital. Presenting a practically insurmountable planning obstacle, the hospital flight path rendered a project of that height untenable.
Now with the tower scaled down to a height of 85.3 metres and planned as a 29-storey building, the architectsAlliance-designed development at 60 Shuter has evolved in response to the planning issues faced by the previous proposal. At 25,551 m², the project's GFA is reduced from the initially proposed 33,979 m², with the total number of residential units brought down from 536 to 370.
However, although the height decrease noticeably impacts the project's scale, a revised massing strategy minimizes the reduction in GFA. With tower's expanded floorplates now ranging from 939 m² to 834 m², the building conspicously exceeds the typical 750 m² point tower floorplate identified in the City of Toronto's Tall Buildings Guidelines.
At ground level, the Church and Shuter frontages are dominated by a double-height 503 m² retail space, with residential lobby access at the southeast corner of the podium on Shuter Street. While the street-level retail plan is generally maintained from the initial proposal—which called for a 523 m² space—the lower levels have otherwise been reconfigured.
In an attempt to create a more contextually sensitive addition to the streetscape, the whole of the (now) three-storey podium structure is a level shorter. Meanwhile, the structure at 187-189 Church—currently home to the offices of NOW Magazine—was previously envisioned as a façade retention project following demolition. Now, a continuation of the contemporary podium frontage is planned instead. As the City has not indicated any plans to designate the property under PART IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, the developers and architects have eschewed a replicated façade element.
According to documents recently submitted to the City, the re-imagined project tackles a number of planning issues, including the helicopter flight path (which it now just clears), and shadowing on the nearby St. Michael's Cathedral. In response to City concerns, the unit mix has also been altered, with the proportion of two-bedroom suites notably increased (from 6% to 27%), while a 10% allotment of three-bedroom units is carried over from the previous plan.
Aside from the somewhat uncommon massing strategy, further noteworthy elements set the proposal apart from Toronto's typical development template. Beginning at the top, an unusual combination of residential and mechanical components crowns the tower (below). Forgoing the added height of a standalone mechanical level, the 29th storey features both mechanical elements and penthouse floor space. While the elevator overrun generally means that mechanical installations sit atop residential uses, the split-level penthouses (accessible by elevator from the 28th floor) allow for staircase access to the 29th level.
At the lower levels, meanwhile, the north elevation's first seven tower storeys—which are essentially built to the lot line—are clad in window-wall glazing. Like the mechanical/residential layout above, this configuration is an uncommon one, as windows directly overlooking a low-rise site can complicate the viability of neighbouring development. (For this reason, such facades are often left blank). At 60 Shuter, three heritage-listed properties border the the site on Church Street, and the air space above would presumably need to be protected to facilitate the tower's north-facing windows.
With the proposal recently re-submittted to the City, we will keep you updated as a new planning process commences. Although the current project is a product of planning evolution, elements of the development—including the design aesthetic—may continue to change in the coming months.
For the time being, more information is available in our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the conversation in our associated Forum thread.