In late 2015, a plan to redevelop a stretch of Midtown Toronto's Soudan Avenue came to light, with a proposal by the Benvenuto Group calling for a pair of rental towers to re-make a site spanning from Redpath to Brownlow. Designed by Montreal's Neuf Architect(e)s, the 200 Soudan project called for a pair of 25- and 24-storey towers fronted by a flat four-storey podium, adding 463 units to the growing area. Following input from City Planning and members of the community, the recently re-submitted project has been scaled down and re-conceptualized in an attempt to better fit the surrounding context. 

Aerial view of the revised project, looking north, image via Benvenuto Group

Now calling for a pair of 24-storey towers by Neuf and Toronto's SMV Architects, the proposal does away with the shared four-storey based building, favouring a more permeable site now fronted by a publicly accessible green space, with an additional mid-block garden—featuring a public art installation—planned between the two towers.

The new site plan, image via Benvenuto Group

The residential unit mix has also been reconsidered to address concerns regarding the shortage of family-oriented housing. While the total number of suites has been reduced from 463 to 369, the proportion of larger homes has been increased, with 166 units (45%) set to come in two- or three-bedroom configurations. By contrast, 163 (35%) of the 463 suites initially tabled were set to have more than one bedroom. 

The 2015 proposal, looking northeast, image via Benvenuto Group

The footprints of the two towers have also been significantly reduced, with the average floorplates of the west and east towers slimmed down with regard to the 750 m² standard set out in the City of Toronto's Tall Buildings Guidelines. Initially featuring a rather heavy tower floorplate of 941 m², the west building is now set to feature a 697 m² footprint, while its slightly smaller neighbour to the east has undergone a less dramatic revision; the average floorplate has been reduced from 776 m² to 623 m². 

An aerial drawing offers a better look at the massing and public space, image via Benvenuto Group

Presenting a less imposing footprint—and hopefully a more engaging street-level experience—the project has also been designed to meet the 60º angular plane transition to the low-rise residential neighbourhood to the south. Located southeast of Yonge & Eglinton, and a block west of Mount Pleasant, the 7,300 m² site effectively straddles two very different urban environments, making for a sensitive planning context. While the established mid-century cluster of apartment towers to the west and north—including the neighbouring 19-storey slab tower at 18 Brownlow—is now being filled in with taller high-rises, the neighbourhood to the immediate south is still characterized by older low-rise homes. As seen below, the site itself is still occupied by ground-related homes.

3D aerial view of the site, image via Google Maps

In setting the towers back from the street to provide public space—a priority for local Councillor Josh Matlow—slimming down the floorplates, and transitioning in height to the south, many of the revisions to the project reflect an attempt to provide a more contextually appropriate transition in scale. Now fronted by a pair of comparatively discrete three-storey base structures, the massing (and brick-infused materiality) of the towers' lower levels is designed to better reflect the more intimate context across the street.

Looking north, image via Benvenuto Group

According to an Urban Design Report prepared by Freedman Urban Solutions and DTAH, the project has also evolved with a greater emphasis on sustainability. Set to feature an "ultra-low energy envelope" with "minimum viable energy and water consumption" and "ground source heat exchange," the buildings are designed with an extended life cycle in mind.

Looking west, the POPS, image via Benvenuto Group

The Urban Design Report notes that "net zero ready" performance standards are being targeted, though the project's performance is partially contingent on geotechnical retrofits to neighbouring buildings. It's a relatively ambitious standard, though one that is also borne out by the economics of purpose-built rental development. Given the rental tenancy, the financial viability of the development is contingent on long-term revenue, rather than pre-construction sales, incentivizing more emphasis on life cycle and and environmental performance.

Looking northwest, image via Benvenuto Group

We will keep you updated as the project continues to advance, with negotiations between the City and the developers now continuing at the OMB. In the meantime, you can learn more by checking out our updated dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread. 

Related Companies:  CMV Group architects, DTAH, Ferris + Associates Inc., LEA Consulting, NEUF architect(e)s, Patton Design Studio, The Benvenuto Group