There was only one development application assessed at the October 4th meeting of Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP), when Menkes' 4800 Yonge Street, designed by Arquitectonica and Turner Fleischer Architects, was presented in front of a panel of six members. Located at the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue, immediately across Bogert Avenue from Emerald Park, and hugging the Nestle Tower to the west, this proposal would see a 49-storey mixed-use residential tower with 536 units sit atop a 5-storey podium with retail and office uses, six levels of underground parking, and an overall height of 548 feet.
The tower portion of the building is shaped in a curvilinear form with inset balconies, and oriented diagonally, straddling the podium from the northwest to the southeast. The positioning results in minimally obstructed views from surrounding buildings, and responds to the distance requirements in Toronto's Tall Building Guidelines. A change from the more typically squarish point tower developments in the city, the still slender curvilinear design would see a maximum tower floor plate of 860m², 110m² larger than the Tall Building Guidelines' recommended 750m² floor plate size.
New renderings which accompanied the presentation provide additional information to the buildings' architectural profile. A closer look at the building's cladding features depict a window-wall system to be in place, with a spiralling pattern of white horizontal accents through the residential tower. Moving down to the glass podium, vertical fins are accentuated on the top three floors, and similar to Menkes' 10 York, glass canopies wrap around the building's frontage providing protection from downdrafts and creating a sense of intimacy at sidewalk level.
The ground level floor plan would see the residential entrance along Bogert Avenue, with the loading dock and parking entrance to the 440 parking spaces located towards the southwestern corner of the site. While retail fronts onto Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue, the two entrances to the connected office lobby (shaded pink below) will be located along the northeastern side along Yonge Street, and on the northwestern corner fronting Sheppard Avenue. A connection is also proposed to the TTC subway station entrance located in the adjoining Nestle Tower. Members of the panel expressed that those who will use the subway entrance should have a positive experience, urging the team to maximize all opportunities for the new entrance to be welcoming through good utilization of space and daylight.
The dwelling units are comprised of 388 1-bedroom units, 145 2-bedroom units, and 3 3+bedroom units.
Following the proponents' presentation, panel members commented on the project. In general, members agreed that the design would be very elegant if implemented successfully. One member commented that the importance of this intersection and prominence of this building necessitates use of high quality materials, and recommended that curtain wall be considered in place of the proposed window wall. He went on to say that he had no issue with the height (which is commensurate with the height of the Hullmark Centre across Yonge Street to the east).
One member commented he would like to see an architectural gesture to link the building's podium with the tower design, as they look like two separate buildings, saying that the podium needs "some turbulence" in its boxiness to acknowledge the tower above. One member stated the greenspace atop the podium adds elegance to the design, and that it could be used as a starting point to better integrate the tower with the podium.
It was noted that the sculptural form of the curvilinear design would give the project a distinct identity, from both far away on the North York City Centre skyline, as well as from up close. It was suggested by members that this development could be the one to elevate this part of the city in terms of architectural integrity, design, and environmental qualities if the team carries through by designing at a standard that this corner should demand. The applicants stated that they are designing to Toronto Green Standard Tier 1, and in response the panel members urged them to go far beyond that, describing it as a minimum environmental standard which needs to be surpassed.
As this application requires an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and a rezoning, one panel member asked if it was too early to see the design before City Planning weighed in on whether it would recommend Council approve those changes. Members generally liked the mixed-use aspects of the proposal, however, and said the added density would enhance the public realm here with more activity. In the end, the panel voted 4-1 (the panel chair does not vote) in favour of refinement of the design, as opposed to a redesign.
As there will likely be more revisions through the approvals process, we will keep you updated when more news becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to look through 4800 Yonge's dataBase file, linked below. You can add your thoughts in the comment space provided on this page, or join in the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum thread.