A new report has been released by the City of Toronto's Planning Department regarding the heritage alterations proposed at Westbank and Allied Properties REIT's 19 Duncan development in the Entertainment District, bringing to light Hariri Pontarini's revised design for the project. Alongside recommended changes to the way the some heritage aspects were handled, the City has also sought changes to the tower, with the new report covering a settlement offer by the applicants, addressing some of Planning's concerns.

Original rendering of 19 Duncan, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The report recommends that Toronto City Council refuse the alterations proposed by the applicants to the plan for 19 Duncan Street, originally known as the Southam Press Building. It was designated a heritage property on December 15, 2016, over a year and a half after the applicants' proposal was first submitted. With the construction of the residential tower and office component integrated into the heritage Southam Press Building, the report argues that this would be an architectural disservice, not conserving its cultural heritage value nor attributes. (Under Section 33 of the Ontario Heritage Act, consent is required from City Council to allow alterations to a designated heritage property.)

Original rendering of the heritage component, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The Planning Division also recommends that should Council refuse the proposed alterations, and should the applicants subsequently appeal to the Conservation Review Board (CRB), that the City send representation to the CRB to oppose the plan. In the event that City Council does approve the alterations, however, the report requires that the applicants enter into a Heritage Easement Agreement that conforms to plans by Hariri Pontarini from this past April—in addition to the settlement offer that was submitted a month later. Furthermore, a more detailed Conservation Plan would then be created, outlining components of the heritage preservation to ensure accurate reconstruction & careful reassembly.

Updated massing of 19 Duncan, image via submission to the City of Toronto

First submitted in 2015, the original proposal sought a 57-storey, 625-foot (190.58 metre) mixed-use rental tower with 472 residential units, with office space incorporated into the building's podium, which would see a two-storey addition above the retained 5 ½ storey heritage façades.

The revised plans present a few changes. The height of the tower (still, it appears, at 57 storeys) is now proposed at 612 feet (186.5 metres), taller than the 157-metre height limit established in the Entertainment District, which until now only the Mirvish + Gehry project has been approved to breach. The materiality and architectural expression of the tower remains relatively intact from its first design, though four levels of office space—as opposed to the two floors first envisioned—are now planned above the heritage building, making for an expanded podium. Two new—and slightly more conspicuous—cutouts are now also planned for the tower's gridded exterior, altering its aesthetic rhythm.

Updated massing of the heritage and office component, image via submission to the City of Toronto

In the 1908-built heritage building, some alterations can be seen in the new renderings. At the ends of the north elevation, and middle and south bays of the west elevation, semi-elliptical parapets and corresponding arches in the brick below would be rebuilt at the top of the building. These original features were removed from the Edwardian Classicist building when architectural fashions changed. At the ground level, the rendering above shows the replacement of the basement windows with storey-and-a-half height windows and glass doors now, aiming to achieve a stronger connection to the street-side pedestrian experience, although it is unclear whether this aspect of the plan will be maintained.

Looking onto the heritage building at 19 Duncan, image via Google Maps

We will provide updates once more information becomes available to us. Additional information and renderings can be found in the project's DataBase, linked below. Want to share your thoughts on this settlement? Feel free to write a comment using the space provided below, or join in the ongoing discussion in the associated Forum thread.

Related Companies:  Allied Properties REIT, Cushman & Wakefield, ERA Architects, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Jablonsky, Ast and Partners, Janet Rosenberg + Studio, Westbank Corp