Property owner Cartareal Corporation N.V. has proposed a 64-storey mixed-use office and condo building designed by BDP Quadrangle and heritage specialists GBCA Architects at 505 University Avenue in Toronto's 'Discovery District'. The Zoning By-law Amendment and Site Plan Approval applications submitted by the Goldberg Group seek to demolish and replace an existing 20-storey office building on the site with a 212.89m tower sited atop a 12-storey office podium that aims to replicate the appearance of its predecessor.

Looking northeast to 505 University on the left, and The United BLDG (UC) on the right, image from submission to the City of Toronto

Positioned on the northeast corner of University Avenue and Edward Street, the 3,328m² site is currently occupied by a 20-storey office building designed by Marani and Morris, and originally built in 1958 for the Shell Oil Company as a 13-storey structure, with the upper 7 storeys added in 1966 to a design by the successor firm, Marani, Rounthwaite & Dick. It is clad in Indiana limestone, while the ground floor has Norwegian blue granite accents.

Existing building at 505 University Avenue, image retrieved from Google Street View

The tower is centred between single-storey extensions to the north and south that face University Avenue, while surface parking can be found behind them.

The existing building is not designated nor listed in Toronto's Heritage Inventory.

Existing building at 505 University Avenue plus context, image retrieved from Apple Maps

This structure sits directly across University Avenue from the John B. Parkin Associates-designed brutalist 522 University Avenue, (seen to the lower left, above), which also looks set to be demolished in favour of a 62-storey mixed-use building designed by WZMH Architects, and subject of another recent article.

In fact, along with the recently completed Residences of 488 University which was built atop 480 University Avenue, this marks the seventh similar proposal on the stretch between Adelaide Street and College Street. The other proposals are at 200 University, 250 University, and 700 University, while The United BLDG is currently under construction just to the south across Edward Street. Another similarly tall building, the Residences at the RCMI, was completed in 2013, but the original building on the site was only two storeys high.

Existing building at 505 University Avenue plus context, image retrieved from Apple Maps

Designated as "Mixed Use Areas 1 – Growth" by the City of Toronto's Downtown Secondary Plan, the area is typically defined by a significant number of hospitals, treatment centres, academic buildings, government offices, and research facilities. Even though University Avenue is densely populated with an assortment of mid to high-rise towers, the expansive 55m wide right-of-way, characterized by wide sidewalks and a variety of mature foliage, leaves this major north-south arterial road feeling spacious. Facilitated by two northbound and two southbound traffic lanes, bicycles lanes in each direction, and parking lanes, the site also benefits from excellent transit access, being just a block north of St Patrick Station on University Line 1 and the Dundas streetcar. The site's centrality also means it is located within six Protected Major Transit Station Areas, justifying the emphasis on residential intensification.

Block context plan around 505 University Avenue showing existing, approved, and proposed buildings, image from submission to the City of Toronto

Demolition of the 20-storey office building would allow for a 64-storey building with a total gross floor area of 72,062m², resulting in a total floor space index of 21.65. BDP Quadrangle's proposal benefits from several sizeable setbacks that give it physical relief from the property line. This allows vehicular access to four levels of underground parking leading directly from Edward Street along the eastern perimeter, providing 171 vehicle parking spaces and 814 bicycle parking spaces.

Looking northeast across University Avenue to the proposal, image from submission to the City of Toronto

The 12-storey office podium would provide full replacement office space by replicating the current tower's look on the south half of the site, while creating larger floor-plates by building on the north half of the site too. The south side would take external design inspiration from the previous 1950s structure, predominately fronting the University Avenue and Edward Street intersection. An extract from the heritage impact assessment states:

"In the current proposal, the new building design will take cues from the design of the existing building, including substantial salvage of exterior materials, including stone panels, granite panels, and aluminium screens."

The north side would be clad in a staggered glass façade that adds a dynamic component to the otherwise orthogonal elevation. Partially recessed from the replicated elevation, this contemporary glass façade is conscientiously subservient to its counterpart and is meant to provide a suitable transition to the PostModern, 14-storey SickKids Foundation office building immediately to the north at 525 University Avenue.

Looking south from Queens Park to the proposal, image from submission to the City of Toronto

At ground level, BDP Quadrangle have proposed 460m² of retail space and an office lobby serving ten levels of office space totalling 24,919m², both accessed from the University Avenue sidewalk. Along Edward Street, a residential lobby and lobby lounge provide access to 704 new dwelling units on levels 14 upwards, totalling 46,683m² of residential gross floor area. These would be supplemented by 1,428m² of combined indoor and outdoor space provided on the ground, 13th, and 14th floors.

In total, 704 residential units would be provided, comprising 400 one-bedrooms (57%), 233 two-bedrooms (33%), and 71 three-bedrooms (10%), which meets the City of Toronto's requirements for percentages of family-sized unit types. Five elevators are proposed for the residential levels, or one elevator per every 141 units. While there is no minimum standard for the number of elevators required per unit in Ontario, one elevator per 100 units is closer to the average number.

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, 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.

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Related Companies:  BDP Quadrangle, EQ Building Performance Inc., Goldberg Group, Grounded Engineering Inc., STUDIO tla