The University of Toronto’s plan to build a new 24-storey mixed-use student residence tower at 698 to 706 Spadina Avenue on the northwest corner of Sussex Avenue and Spadina Avenue, has undergone revisions since its initial proposal in July 2016. Partnered with private sector developer The Daniels Corporation, the University’s revised Diamond Schmitt Architects-designed proposal addresses concerns pertaining to the development’s height, its floor plan and setbacks, and the potential heritage value of the existing building at 698 Spadina raised by City staff and the community.

The proposed development forms a part of the University’s ongoing effort to create over 2,000 new student residence units for the University’s downtown St George campus. The revised proposal poses to add 17,300 square metres of residential gross floor space with 242 residence units, four less than initially proposed. Of these, 33 are to be one-bedroom units, 165 will be two-bedrooms, and the remaining 44 units will contain three or four-bedrooms. 480 square metres of retail space is proposed at ground level, as well as a student cafe and/or cafeteria.

Revised 24-storey Residence Tower rendering, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

The tower's height has increased from 23 to 24 storeys, with the first two storeys plus mezzanine in podium form. Initially, an additional two storeys were proposed for the podium, intended to offer some 2,400 square metres of office space, since deleted from the plans. Instead, the ground floor will serve as the student residence lobby, with administrative offices and common areas. Student laundry facilities, meeting spaces, additional common spaces, and other amenities are proposed on the second floor. 

South and East elevations of the Residence Tower, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

While the tower’s number of storeys has increased, the overall height of the development has been reduced to be more in-line with the surrounding built form, which includes 666 Spadina (25-storeys) south of the site, and 732 Spadina (21-storeys) to the north. As such, the tower’s height has been reduced from 83 metres (including the mechanical penthouse) to 78 metres. 18 vehicle parking spaces, as well as 116 long term bicycle storage facilities are proposed in a single underground level under the development. 

Early version, 23-storey Residence Tower including 4-storey podium, image via Diamond Schmitt Architects

Next to but separated from the tower, a three-storey stacked townhouse building, containing 10 townhouse units is proposed to accommodate a ‘like-for-like’ replacement of the site’s existing residential building. These units are to be reserved for families, and Faculty-in-Residence Program members. Entrance ways for the townhouses have been revised so that they are accessible from the south of the development along Sussex Avenue, and to the west, from the Sussex Mews laneway, instead of from the internal laneway as initially designed. 

Site plan of the Residence Tower, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

In accordance with building setback concerns raised in community consultation meetings, additional built form setbacks for the development’s base have been increased to 6 metres from the east property line (fronting Spadina Ave), 11 metres from the north, and 3 metres from the south (fronting Sussex Ave). Likewise, the tower’s floor plate has been revised to be of a more slender form (averaging 750 square metres), meeting the City’s Tall Building Design Guidelines. 

While the heritage designation of the current building at 698 Spadina Avenue—home to ‘Ten Editions’, a used book store—is currently being appealed by the University, the development’s design has been revised to accommodate and incorporate the facade of the building into the podium. 

The 'Ten Editions' bookstore at 698 Spadina, image via The Varsity

Other proposed revisions regarding Heritage Policy have been adopted in line with the Official Plan Amendment 368, concerning intrusions to the silhouette view of the new Daniels Faculty of Architecture building at 1 Spadina Crescent. Originally the U of T's first Knox College building, it is highly protected by its heritage status, to the extent that silhouette views of the building in its entirety, are to be preserved from from the southeast and southwest corners of Spadina Avenue and College Street. Accordingly, a View Corridor Analysis was made in the revised proposal to ensure that no portion of the development will protrude onto views of 1 Spadina. 

Knox College & Daniels Faculty of Architecture Building, image via Craig White for UrbanToronto

The site’s adjacency to the University’s St George Campus makes it a fitting location for a student residence, and a necessary step towards accommodating higher flows of University of Toronto students downtown, and the need for high-quality student housing as articulated in the University of Toronto’s ‘Toward 2030’ strategic plan. The site is well serviced by public transit, including the 510 Spadina streetcar, and is a short walk from the Bloor-Danforth subway line. The area additionally benefits from a well established bike lane network, with many retail, entertainment, and options for eating out in close proximity. In turn, the developers believe that the proposal will ‘contribute to the vibrancy of the area’. 

Site context for the Residence Tower, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

UrbanToronto will provide updates on this project as they develop. For the time being, essential information on the development can be accessed in our dataBase file, linked below. To join in on the conversation, check out our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  COUNTERPOINT ENGINEERING, Diamond Schmitt Architects, NAK Design Strategies, The Daniels Corporation, University of Toronto