A tower-in-the-park infill project at 666 Spadina Avenue has evolved in the recent months following concerns from the City of Toronto's Heritage Preservation Services. The tower was designed by the acclaimed Estonian-Canadian architect Uno Prii in 1972, and is a quintessential example of North American modernist architecture, as a result it is listed in the City's Heritage Register. As a tower-in-the-park project, 666 Spadina features large areas of empty green space surrounding it, the result of mid-twentieth century experiments in city building and urban form.

View facing southwest across Spadina Avenue, image courtesy of 666 Spadina Developments

In recent decades, the effectiveness of the tower-in-the-park model has shown to be deeply flawed, and the green spaces which were meant to provide breathing room and space to relax for building residents have proven to be underused and neglected stretches of grass. As a result, infill projects such as at 666 Spadina Avenue have become popular in recent years as a way to bring life to the under-used spaces. Infill proposals such as at 1650 Sheppard Avenue East and Oak Heights are just some of the many other projects aiming to do the same.

Despite the failure of the tower-in-the-park model, the building itself still stands as a monument of modernist architecture. Citing heritage preservation concerns, the design of the proposal has been revised in order to keep some of the original tower-in-the-park intentions and reinforce strong landscaping features while still animating them. 

View facing southwest across Spadina Avenue, image courtesy of 666 Spadina Developments

There have been some major changes to the Page + Steele/ IBI Group designed project since our first article last year. The most significant change to the project involves the removal of the proposed stacked townhouses at the north end of the site. The eight townhouse units would have filled in the green space between the existing tower and Sussex Avenue, but have been removed to preserve some of the tower-in-the-park ideas. Now, only the new rental mid-rise remains, replacing lawn and service areas to the south of the site. The new building plans have also been reconfigured so that it will be slightly further from the existing tower.

The layout of the new 11 storey (114 ft.) building is another area of revision since the first proposal, with a different unit mix and reconfigured retail area. At grade, there was previously proposed 460m² of retail space along Spadina Avenue. This has since been increased to 685m² in an effort to further animate the sidewalk. The unit mix now features 1 studio, 60 one bedroom units, 58 two bedroom units, and 14 three bedroom units as opposed to 0 studios, 58 one bedroom units, 53 two bedroom units, and 8 three bedroom units. This results in 3 less units, but more family friendly units with larger spaces. 

View facing northwest from Spadina Avenue, image courtesy of 666 Spadina Developments

While the exterior dimensions of the new building have not been altered (with the exception of small canopies at ground level to reduce wind impacts), cladding and the configuration of the facade has changed. The building now features a brick pseudo-townhouse mass at grade housing some of the retail spaces, while a glass pavilion connecting the new and existing buildings has been replaced with a trellis-shaded walkway allowing through-passage between Spadina and Sussex Mews.

While the buildings may not be directly connected anymore, they will still share the same services, such as the underground parking garage, loading areas, garbage storage, and amenities. Amenity spaces are divided between 860m² of indoor amenity space in the new building as well as a renovated first floor in the existing building, all in addition to 1,001m² of outdoor amenity space.

View facing northeast from Sussex Avenue, image courtesy of 666 Spadina Developments

On the west side of the buildings which face Sussex Mews, more of Uno Prii's landscape design, including a round forecourt, will be preserved as part of a reconfigured driveway and visitor parking area.

View facing southeast from Sussex Avenue, image courtesy of 666 Spadina Developments

We will keep you updated as this project continues to evolve. In the meantime, make sure to check out our database file for more information, linked below. Want to share your thoughts on the development? Feel free to leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread.

Related Companies:  Ferris + Associates Inc., IBI Group, WND Associates Ltd