Earlier this year, Lanterra Developments unveiled the design of Artists' Alley, a proposal for a three-building mixed-use project at 234 Simcoe Street. Located on a longer-than-average city block just west of University Avenue between Dundas and Queen Streets in Downtown Toronto, the proposal replaces a three-storey concrete office building with a vanguardist design by Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Although many welcomed the innovative design of the initial proposal, several critiques emerged with regards to the buildings' height and massing, in addition to the separation between the different towers on the site. The project's revised design, however, seeks to target these concerns by significantly refining the architectural elements of the proposal.

View of Artists' Alley looking east, image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

Targeting the concerns expressed by the Design Review Panel, the re-envisioned design is comprised of three buildings of 40, 35, and 17 storeys, a revision of the previously proposed heights of 54, 24, and 17 storeys, respectively. A reduction in building height was considered a crucial point in ensuring an adequate transition between the high-rise landscape of University Avenue to the east and the mid-rise character of Grange Village, the neighbourhood west of the site.

Site plan of Artists' Alley, image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

While the revised building height addresses some of the concerns expressed by the DRP, Hariri Pontarini have also made a series of improvements to the buildings' podiums which allow for greater walkability and permeability, in addition to reducing the density of the site and widening the separation between the three buildings.

In particular, significant changes have been made to Building 3, the 17-storey tower on the western edge of the project facing St. Patrick Street. Although the pedestrian corridor linking Simcoe and St. Patrick streets by diagonally transversing the site has been retained, the western terminus has been redesigned to allow for the construction of a pedestrian plaza on St. Patrick Street.

View of the proposed plaza on St. Patrick Street, image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

Similarly, by reducing the massing of the podiums of the two buildings fronting Simcoe Street, the proposal now envisions a more amenable streetscape along the aforementioned thoroughfare. The narrowing of the buildings' podiums in the revised design allows for a more organic transition from the street towards the pedestrian walkway, in addition to widening the building separation previously criticized by the DRP. Moreover, a new parkette is being proposed for the widened space between the two podiums at the east end of the pedestrian walkway, breaking the monotonous street wall of institutional and office buildings along Simcoe Street.

View of Artists' Alley looking west from Simcoe Street, image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects

We will continue to update you as more information is released about this project. In the meantime, feel free to join the conversation on our Forum, and leave your comments in the section below.

Related Companies:  Hariri Pontarini Architects, NAK Design Strategies