In March of this year, Toronto City Council approved a new secondary plan to guide redevelopment of the Consumers Road Business Park, to the south and west of Sheppard Avenue and Victoria Park Road. The first redevelopment proposal in the "ConsumersNext" area since then—which the City hopes is at the head of a wave of densification in the area—made its first appearance before Toronto's Design Review Panel earlier this month.

2450 Victoria Park Avenue received a mixed review from Panel members who were both impressed and wary of the buildings proposed. Located in the southeast corner of the business park just north of the 401, the proposal from Collecdev and architects gh3 seeks to add a pair of towers and mid-rises to the area at a height of 44, 39, 11, and 11 storeys comprising a total of 1,294 residential units.

Rendering of 2450 Victoria Park Avenue, image courtesy of Collecdev.

The Consumers Road Business Park is home to roughly 18,000 workers and represents the largest concentration of office employment in Toronto outside of the downtown core. 2450 Victoria Park is the first proposal in the district to follow passage of the ConsumersNext planning study and secondary plan, which lays out a vision for the intensification of the business park and Sheppard Avenue corridor to include more office space, more retail and commercial spaces integrated throughout, and new residential density introduced along the fringes of the district in anticipation of the construction of the Sheppard East LRT. The secondary plan allows density up to 43 storeys along the Sheppard corridor and a peak of density at the intersection of Sheppard and Victoria Park, before stepping down in height to mid-rises along Victoria Park to the south. The interior area of the business park along Consumers Road would remain as Employment Lands, and would see office and commercial intensification throughout. 

2450 Victoria Park (in blue) within the ConsumersNext secondary plan, image courtesy of Collecdev.

The plan for 2450 Victoria Park is comprised of two U-shaped buildings centred around an interior POPS and a public park at the southwest corner. A generous setback is afforded to the south property line which is adjacent to the Armenian Community Centre, the only cultural institution within the business park. An east-west road is intended to bissect the site, but the design team and the City have not yet determined the best placement for it. The preferred alignment would be along the south property line, however, this intersects with the onramp to the 401 at Victoria Park Avenue and may not be possible, so a street passing through the centre of the site, currently the location of the POPS, may be considered as an alternative.

Proposed site plan, image courtesy of Collecdev.

The architecture of the building features a series of staggered and rotated volumes stacked to various heights, with angled balconies and bump-outs creating variation in the massing. Thin vertical louvres run the length of the building to create a uniform aesthetic while simultaneously providing sun shading benefits as part of the building's sustainability efforts. The complex of buildings features a four-storey 15.3-metre podium with stepbacks at the fifth and ninth floors, while grade-level retail lines the Victoria Park and Consumers Road frontages. An arched colonnade is envisioned along the retail portions in a nod to the Armenian architecture on the adjacent site.

Rendering showing the corner of Victoria Park Avenue and Consumers Road, image courtesy of Collecdev.

Panel members offered a mixed bag of reviews for the project, praising certain aspects of the buildings while expressing concern about others. Panelists offered plenty of praise for the architecture of the building, calling the design features elegant and attractive. They also were pleased with the amount of green space provided on the site, and were encouraged that the park and public spaces were driving certain elements of the project rather than being an afterthought.

Rendering of the central POPS, image courtesy of Collecdev.

The Panel was most divided over the massing of the proposal. While some thought the design team had done an excellent job of arranging the volumes on the site, others felt that the development was too bulky and massive, particularly with regards to the 11-storey volume at the corner of Victoria Park and Consumers Road, and with the nearly 43-storey shear wall with minimal stepbacks rising alongside Consumers.

Rendering of 2450 Victoria Park Avenue, image courtesy of Collecdev.

As well, some Panelists remarked that the scale, massing, and articulation of the buildings around the interior public spaces was done quite well, while this same care and attention to detail was lacking on the outer edges of the property along the streets. The design team was urged to further develop the streetscapes into a more human-scaled and intimate setting.

Rendering of the interior POPS, image courtesy of Collecdev.

Above all, the Panel stressed the importance of this project as the first move to urbanize a rather hostile and suburban environment. They acknowledged the challenge in trying to respond to, but also trying to create an existing context, and emphasized that since this is the first development within the new secondary plan, the design team must take extra care to get it right so it can be used as an exemplar for future developments in the area.

Rendering looking east along the south property line, image courtesy of Collecdev.

In the end, the Panel voted three in favour of a redesign, and five in favour of a refinement of the current design.

We will be back with more updates as this project evolves throughout the planning process, but in the meantime, you can check out initial images of the proposal in the database file for the project, liked below, get in on the discussion in the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Collecdev, gh3, Goldberg Group, urbanMetrics inc.