Unix Housing Group have proposed — for noteworthy goals — a 31-storey rental building on College Street in Downtown Toronto constructed with a mass timber structure. The development would bring 494 dwelling units to the area immediately south of the U of T, 80% of which will be affordable. The existing buildings now on site would be conserved and integrated into the development project, maintaining the fine-grained pedestrian-oriented character of its locale.

Looking southeast to the proposed development, image by Icon Architects

The square-shaped site is located on the southwest corner of College and Henry streets, and is currently occupied by four “house-form” semi-detached buildings now home to small-scale restaurants and businesses. Listed on the City’s Heritage Register, the buildings are surviving examples of late 19th century houses with detailing from the popular architectural styles of the Victorian era, including the Italianate and Gothic Revival. Braemer College is situated to the east across Henry Street, and Theory Condos is immediately adjacent to the west.

Context map showing adjacent and nearby heritage resources in relation to the site, image by City of Toronto & ERA Architects

The proposal contemplates intensifying the site with a 31-storey development, consisting of 21,000m² GFA, for a density of 13.17 FSI. Designed by Icon Architects, the new tower would comprise 494 residential rental units, of which 408 would be secured as Affordable units for a minimum period of 40 years under the City’s Open Door Program.

The redevelopment fully retains the principal (north) elevation and partially retains the east and west elevations of 191-199 College Street buildings. About 1,400m² of commercial space would be situated on the first and second levels, including the entire College Street frontage. To the south of the tower, and connected at grade, are the retained properties at 74-76 Henry Street, which will retain their historic residential use. The rear extensions of all buildings would all be removed.

Looking southwest to the proposed development, image by Icon Architects

According to the Planning Rationale submitted to the City, the tower is designed and would be "constructed utilizing Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) in order to deliver much needed affordable housing quicker, and in a much more sustainable development way, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 3,300 metric tons. The development represents the tallest wood construction building in Canada."

The 18-storey/85.4 metre Mjøstårnet in BrumunddalNorway, is currently the world's tallest timber building. The first hybrid structure more than 14 storeys tall (as this would also be — the building’s core and podium would utilize traditional concrete construction) was the University of British Columbia’s Brock Commons Residence Hall, completed in September, 2017. Currently Canada's tallest (mostly) CLT building, Brock Commons is 18 storeys, ~53 metres tall, with accommodation for approximately 400 students.

According to the Planning Rationale, “the new podium and tower components will be clad with a wall panel system including glazing and aluminum spandrel panels deployed in a variegated pattern throughout. This will clearly distinguish the new components from the retained heritage buildings and provide for a compatible and sympathetic relationship. In contrast to the darker palette of the ‘Theory Condos’ next door, the Proposed Development will read as a lighter and more effervescent building.”

The podium and tower step back behind the roof ridge line of the existing buildings to accentuate the division between old and new.

Of the 494 total dwelling units, clearly aimed at university students, the mix is proposed as 408 studios (83%), 9 one-bedroom (2%), 71 two-bedroom (14%), and 6 three-bedroom (1%) units. Residents would have access to amenity space located on the 8th level of the building, of which 600m² is flexible indoor space and directly contiguous and accessible to it would be a 200m² west-facing terrace on the podium roof.Limited above ground parking (6 spaces) is proposed at the rear of 74-76 Henry Street, accessible via the north-south laneway to the west of the site. Two underground levels would accommodate lockers and 448 bicycles, but no motor vehicles.

The design team is currently looking into incorporating geothermal heating/cooling for the building.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow updates for this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto’s new data research service, UrbanToronto Pro, offers comprehensive information on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal right through to completion stages. In addition, our subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, drops in your mailbox daily to help you track projects through the planning process.

Related Companies:  EQ Building Performance Inc., The Planning Partnership