Plans are in the works for a high-rise mixed-use residential development at 545 Lake Shore Boulevard West on the southeast corner of Bathurst Street and Lake Shore, representing one of the last developable sites in the West Harbourfront area. At the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel a couple weeks ago, developer Canderel presented three massing options for the proposal that would see two towers constructed on the site, which is currently occupied by the heritage Crosse & Blackwell Building. Designed by Graziani + Corazza Architects and Sweeny &Co Architects, the three options hint at what the future may hold for the prominent waterfront site.

Left to right: view looking east along Lake Shore Blvd of Option 1, 2 and 3, images courtesy of Canderel.

Completed in 1927 and designed by architects Chapman & Oxley, the Crosse & Blackwell Building was home to UK-based food product manufacturers, the Crosse & Blackwell Company, and formed one of several landmark Art Deco projects built between 1925-1930 on the Bathurst Quay, which included the Loblaws Groceterias headquarters, Maple Leaf Stadium, and the Tip Top Tailors factory building. The Crosse & Blackwell Building is currently occupied by Rogers, who restored and renovated the building when they purchased the property in the 1970s, and now uses it as a media centre and television studio. With the Loblaws site currently being redeveloped, the previous conversion of the Tip Top Tailors factory into lofts, and the previous demolition of all other historic buildings in the vicinity, the Crosse & Blackwell Building is the last remaining untouched Art Deco structure on the Bathurst Quay.

The Crosse & Blackwell Building in 1927, image courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

The site is located in a highly visible position at the terminus of three prominent view corridors. To the west, a direct view is provided along Lake Shore Boulevard to the Princes' Gate and Exhibition Place, while to the east, a bend in Queens Quay at the southeast corner of the property provides an unobstructed view down the popular waterfront corridor. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, the property is located at the western terminal of the windmill line, which is the invisible boundary to which all docks and wharfs are allowed to be built out to in the harbour. These three view corridors mean that whatever gets built here will be in a highly prominent and highly visible position within the city.

Diagram of the view corridors, image courtesy of Canderel.

All three options that Canderel is exploring share some common elements in their podium treatment and program. First, the hexagonal pavilion of the Crosse & Blackwell Building, along with the heritage west, north, and east facades will be preserved and incorporated into the new podium, while the non-heritage south facade facing the lake will be removed. The ground floor will contain retail spaces, with a 'Market Hall' connecting the hexagonal pavilion in the northwest corner of the site to a new main entrance at the southeast corner of the site.

Ground floor plan of Option 1, image courtesy of Canderel.

The upper floor levels of the existing building will be maintained, with office spaces occupying the second and third floors of the podium. The architects are exploring options of lowering the ground floor level, which is currently raised above grade, to allow direct street level entrances into the retail spaces.

Section through existing pavilion showing junction with new podium, image courtesy of Canderel.

Beyond these aspects, the form and massing of the three options vary significantly. The initial design concept, representing Option 1, took inspiration from the 'incomplete hexagon' configuration of the existing heritage facades. The podium would be extended from the existing facades following a loose hexagonal shape, with a new hexagonal pavilion and atrium located on the southeast corner of the site, mirroring the existing heritage pavilion and serving as the second main entrance to the Market Hall.

View of Option 1 looking west on Queens Quay, image courtesy of Canderel.

Two irregular hexagonal towers would then rise from the four-storey podium, both sporting a nearly identical form and massing. The south tower would rise to a height of 33 storeys and roughly 115 metres, while the north tower would rise to a height of 38 storeys and roughly 130 metres. The towers would contain residential units, with amenity and lobby spaces located in the upper podium levels.

Aerial view of Option 1, image courtesy of Canderel.

Options 2 and 3 are proposed "in response to comments received from the City", which seem to pertain mainly to the podium. Annotations on the proposed plans indicate recesses at the junction between the heritage and new facades in order to allow for the articulation and differentiation of the historic building, and also suggest that the City wants the building to be aligned with the heritage facade on the west side and be parallel to the property line on the east side. The podiums of both these options show the ground floor built out to the street, with a C-shaped podium on the upper three floors, removing any association with the hexagonal geometry of Option 1. Options 2 and 3 also present greater architectural variety between the massing of the two towers.

Ground floor plan of Option 2, image courtesy of Canderel.

The Option 2 towers are formed by a series of stepped terraces that create a cascading, mountainous profile, distinct from most other buildings in the city. The south tower would rise to a height of 22 storeys and roughly 75 metres, while the north tower would rise to a height of 33 storeys and roughly 115 metres.

View of Option 2 from Queens Quay, image courtesy of Canderel.

Aerial view of Option 2, image courtesy of Canderel.

The Option 3 towers are formed by several larger terraces that step up to the towers, creating the aesthetic of a series of stacked and rotated boxes, rather than the conglomeration of rectangular tubes seen in Option 2. The south tower would rise to a height of 17 storeys and roughly 65 metres, and the north tower would rise to a height of 39 storeys and roughly 133 metres.

View of Option 3 looking west on Queens Quay, image courtesy of Canderel.

Aerial view of Option 3, image courtesy of Canderel.

The comments of the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel have not been publicly posted yet, so it is unknown what critiques or suggestions were received from the Panelists. As well, no development application has been submitted yet to the City, as it appears that Canderel is still in the early design stages and is not yet ready to begin the formal approvals process. Expect the design to evolve and the options narrowed as the design team continues to work toward a final proposal for this important site.

We will keep you updated as the design of the building evolves, but in the meantime, you can tell us what your preferred option is by checking out the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Canderel Residential , Graziani + Corazza Architects, Sweeny &Co Architects Inc.