Amidst the myriad upcoming high-rise developments packed into the Entertainment District, Nobu Residences Toronto is easily among the most highly anticipated. While news of the Madison Group and Westdale Properties project's finalized iteration—unveiled in early March—is still relatively recent, the development quickly attracted public attention, with the announcement of the prominent Nobu brand, headlined by chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro, garnering the headlines.

Nobu Residences, image via Madison Group

This week, City Staff's recommendation of approval for the heritage plan moves the project a step forward. Up next, a May 18th review at the Toronto Preservation Board (TPB) will continue the approvals process for a development that was first proposed as a 67-storey O-shaped building in early 2015.

Besides the celebrity-backed hotel and restaurant brand that anchors the project, the Nobu development is also poised to bring a distinct architectural presence to the Downtown core. Designed by Toronto's Teeple Architects with heritage consultation by ERA Architects, the project's twin 49-storey towers—characterized by a cubist-inspired bronze and black cladding system—will rise above a series of retained heritage façades that front the south side of narrow Mercer Street. The mixed-use project will feature some 700 condominium suites, the Nobu hotel and restaurant, and street-level retail.

The lower levels, image via Madison Group

Rising on the site of the former Pilkington Glass Factory, the project will incorporate façade elements from the historic complex, parts of which date to the late 19th century. Home to three buildings constructed between 1895 and 1931, the Pilkington site's original architecture—which has been significantly altered—features Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco elements. 

In late March, a new Heritage Conversation Plan (HCP) was submitted to the City, with the revised plan drawing on significant consultation with Planning Staff and local stakeholders. Detailed in our previous story, the HCP will see the three buildings demolished, with façades integrated into the new, glassy podium, and the frontages restored to their original architectural specifications. To create a sense of three-dimensionality, the middle building—an Edwardian warehouse dating to 1910—will also be reconstructed to a depth of 5 metres.

The trio of Pilkington Glass buildings from 1895, 1910, and 1931 (l-r), image via submission to the City of Toronto

At the west end of the site (above the Nobu hotel component) Teeple's design will introduce what's being described as a "copper and glass cubic volume," which picks up on the scale of the retained heritage façades to create a contextually cohesive frontage. Above, the black and copper tower could—depending on the all-important execution of the design—prove a distinct presence among the Entertainment District's blue-glass skyline.  

According to the Staff Report being presented to the TPB, support for the heritage strategy is predicated on the enhanced "integration of the identified exterior and interior heritage attributes" now proposed. Outlining the scope of the recent changes to the heritage plan, the report notes that "revisions improving the conservation strategy included an increase to the new base building's stepbacks above the two-storey and four-storey heritage buildings of up to 5 metres to allow an improved three dimensional aspect of the volume of the designated properties to be expressed within the new 9-storey base building."


We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and the project continues to advance through the planning process in advance of construction. More information is available via our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum threads. 

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