Sometimes overlooked for the fervour of West Queen West, the area south of Trinity Bellwoods Park is notable for its eclectic mix of uses accumulated over its 150-year history. Given its unique location at the convergence of the old Garrison Creek ravine and the rail corridor, the neighbourhood is a conglomeration of historic row houses, old industrial buildings, 19th-century factories, institutional buildings, and public parks, many of which have been adapted for new uses in the modern era and mixed in with new, contemporary development.

Looking to add to this mix, TAS has applied for an Official Plan Amendment (OPA) to allow the expansion of two existing historic office buildings located on the quiet stretch of Richmond Street West between Strachan and Walnut Avenues. The existing buildings are three storeys in height each and would both be fully retained in situ, while addition for both would increase their heights to five storeys while maintaining—and expanding—current office uses. While the two properties are being treated as separate developments, they have been grouped under a single OPA application, as both are asking for the same height allowance.

Site plan showing the two properties, image obtained via submission to the City of Toronto.

The first property in question is located at 822-838 Richmond Street West at the northwest corner of Walnut Avenue. The existing three-storey brick building will be retained, while the one-storey building attached to it to the west will be demolished and replaced by the new addition. Designed by Giannone Petricone Associates, the new five-storey building will add 2,220 m² of additional floor area, bringing the total GFA to 5,065 m², with anticipated tenants that include artist studios, software design firms, communication and broadcast companies, clinics, and a publisher.

Rendering of 822-838 Richmond West, image courtesy of TAS.

The new addition will be finished with a curtain wall. Composed of vertical grey metal panels separating strips of glazing, creating a repetitive vertical rhythm that contrasts with the existing historic building in both material and articulation. The second floor of the addition will cantilever over the retained parking lot to the west, while the fourth and fifth floors are stepped back from all four façades, creating a rooftop terrace on the fourth floor atop the existing building. A new signature entrance canopy is planned for the building. 

South elevation of 822-838 Richmond West, image courtesy of TAS.

The second property is located further west at 860-862 Richmond Street West, where the existing three-storey building will be retained with two storeys added on top. Featuring an edgy design by Suulin Architects, the expanded five-storey building will add 1,370 m² of new floor area, increasing the GFA to 3,692 m². Anticipated tenants would be similar to the existing occupants of the building, which include advertising and design agencies, technology companies, and other creative industries.

Rendering of 860-862 Richmond West, image courtesy of TAS.

The renovation would see existing windows on the south façade replaced with extruded, mullion-free openings, giving the building a more contemporary appearance. A glass and steel staircase attached to the exterior of the building would be a signature feature, snaking its way up on the south and east facades from the second to the fourth floor. The addition above will be clad with a glazed curtain wall and brick, with a wooden mechanical penthouse. The fourth and fifth floors will be set back from all four façades, with a roof terrace created along the south and east elevations atop the existing building. A green roof will top the building.

Rendering of 860-862 Richmond West, image courtesy of TAS.

The two office developments represent a gentle intensification that would reinforce the mixed-use nature of the area while maintaining vestiges of the historic fabric and eclectic building forms that characterize the neighbourhood.

We will keep you posted as these proposals work their way through the planning process. In the meantime, you can check out our dataBase files for the projects, join in on the discussion in the associated Forum threads, or tell us what you think by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Giannone Petricone Associates, Suulin Architects, TAS