Rounding out UrbanToronto’s weeklong coverage of progress on Toronto’s largest private construction project, our final update for now on The Well looks at how the 7.8-acre development responds to the world beyond its borders. The public realm is where the majority of Torontonians will engage with the project, and much of its success as a lively retail environment will depend on the first impressions of pedestrians to drive foot traffic. With a frontage of nearly 300m along Wellington Street, a street with a historically mid-rise character, The Well had an opportunity to make a gesture to pedestrians, and with a wide promenade designed by landscape architects CCxA, that opportunity is being seized.
CCxA's goal of the Wellington Street promenade is to animate the public realm in a way that benefits not only the businesses with frontage along the street, but also the community at large. The most obvious improvement in this respect is the significant widening of the sidewalk and the addition of landscaping. Prior to the conception of The Well, the south side of Wellington Street featured a standard Toronto sidewalk, while the buildings were setback significantly from the property line abutting the sidewalk to allow for surface parking. When The Well was designed, that setback from the property line was maintained, but the parking area was reimagined as an expanded area for pedestrians. The below image shows a before and after, demonstrating the significant increase in width the new promenade enjoys.
The overall plan is pictured below in a drawing broken up into three sections. The sidewalk is composed of an array of pavers, creating a more thoughtfully designed walking path, while a network of platers line the promenade, making contributions to both the canopy and biodiversity on the strip. Areas are also reserved here for patio seating outside four new restaurants that will spill out in the landscaped space.
Work on the public realm really got going over the summer, once most exterior work on the Wellington Street buildings was completed. A crew is pictured in mid-May, below, working on the early concrete forms for the various planters at the westernmost end of the promenade; in a few months time, the space between the planters would be covered with pavers.
Through the summer season, landscaping work progressed well, particularly at the east end of the Wellington Street promenade at Spadina Avenue, which was pictured in early August looking quite far along. With the concrete forms for the planters in place, the crew was able to bring in soil to fill the planters, and a sheet of black fabric was laid over top to protect the soil from the heat of the summer sun. The various grey-tone pavers can be seen in their final form, framed by the concrete edges of the planters.
Mid-block along Wellington Street, we can see how the promenade will accommodate some lay-by spaces along the street. The concrete curbs angle south towards the buildings to create trapezoidal parking areas, and the promenade will feature a total of four of these strips.
By early November, the west end was beginning to resemble the level of completion seen on the east side, with a few improvements. The railings surrounding the planters were installed, and two long benches were fixed to the promenade, one on the north side and one on the south.
Upon completion, the promenade will be the primary access point to six restaurants that front Wellington Street, a number of which, are to be leased by restauranteurs Oliver & Bonacini. The increased width of the promenade will allow for patio spaces to be set up in the summer months while pedestrian traffic can still flow without obstruction.
We will be back with updates on more of The Well as it moves closer to completion. 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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