For anyone who has ever ventured to the foot of Bay Street to head to the island ferry terminal or to any of the other draws in the area, they will be familiar with the squat, bunker-like building on the east side of Bay between Queens Quay and Harbour Street. That's the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre, and its virtually windowless walls have made for a lifeless street presence for decades: while it has doors facing Queens Quay, many of its users access the building via the glass walkway which connects it to the 1975-built hotel across the street to the south.

Looking northeast to the Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre, image retrieved from Google Street View

The land that the conference centre is built on is owned by the City of Toronto, for which the proponents, QuadReal Property Group and Barney River. According to the proposal's Planning Rationale document, pending the extension of the lease, QuadReal and Barney River could justify the investment required to redevelop the site. The owners describe the current conference facilities as outdated and unable to meet the demands of modern conferences, and want to rebuild them. At the same time, the City of Toronto intentions for such sites is to have building that address and animate the surrounding streets instead of turning their backs on them, while the City is also generally looking to foster office development within walking distance of Union Station, strengthening the city's business core. QuadReal and Barney River are therefore proposing to redevelop the 11 Bay Street site with a multi-use building that will provide the adjacent hotel with a more modern conference facility while providing new office space above, and retail to animate the street realm.

Looking northeast to 11 Bay, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects for QuadReal Property Group and Barney River

The proponents have engaged Urban Strategies Inc. in regards to planning matters for the building, Hariri Pontarini Architects as Design Architect, and Adamson Associates Architects as Architect of Record. The proposed building is 269.45 m and 54 floors high, starting with a five-storey podium with floors of approximately 4,278 m² which then transition through 8 increasingly smaller and terraced floor-plates to office tower floors of approximately 2,100 m².  A total of approximately 117,000 m² of non-residential gross floor area is proposed, including 105,000 m² of Class A office space, 9,580 m² of conference space, and 2,580 m² of retail space. The office tower lobby would have its entrance on Harbour Street.

Looking northeast to the 11 Bay podium, designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects for QuadReal Property Group and Barney River

A PATH bridge is proposed to connect the development west over Bay Street to WaterPark Place, which itself is now connected via bridges and tunnels through to Union Station and beyond, while the existing bridge over Queens Quay which connects the conference centre to the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel will be replaced with a new bridge, while also extending PATH to a new exit making access to the Jack Layton Toronto Island Ferry Terminal easier. The building would also have integrated access to the Queens Quay LRT station on the Harbourfront LRT line.

Looking northeast across Queens Quay to 11 Bay, including a pedestrian PATH bridge, image retrieved from submission to the City of Toronto

The ground and second floors would include retail and food service spaces tied to street entrances along Bay Street and the PATH bridges. The second floor would include a 12-stall food hall. On the third and fourth floors above, the conference centre would boast such facilities as a 1,900 m² clear-span main ballroom, a 900 m² clear-span junior ballroom, and 5,700 m² of flexible meeting rooms, pre-function area, and back of house spaces. The conference centre would also have entrance facilities at ground level facing Queens Quay and on the second floor adjacent to the PATH route through the building. According to the Planning Rationale, the conference centre is intended "to maintain a symbiotic relationship with the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel," which is under separate ownership across the road. The hotel provides 977 rooms attractive to convention planners.

Looking northeast to entrances to 11 Bay, including stairs to the second floor including the Food Hall, image retrieved from submission to the City of Toronto

As per the Planning Rationale, "The proposed development has been designed to create a landmark presence at the gateway between the Financial District and waterfront, and a new destination along Queens Quay, the waterfront’s foremost public realm corridor." The developers submitted in early September a Zoning By-law Amendment application to the City, so the proposal's trip through the planning process is just beginning.

Looking northwest to 11 Bay Street in Toronto's Harbourfront area, image retrieved from submission to the City of Toronto

Additional information and images can be found in our Database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  Adamson Associates Architects, Entuitive, Hariri Pontarini Architects, QuadReal Property Group, The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Urban Strategies Inc.