The builders and designers behind Toronto’s The One condos, Montreal’s New Vic and a Smithsonian museum in Washington are some of the people hoping to fill the gap left by Sidewalk Labs to develop the expansive Quayside lands on Toronto’s east-end waterfront.
The portfolios of the four shortlisted teams competing for the opportunity to redevelop Quayside range from constructing or designing new social housing units, to lakeside condos, sleek office towers and eye-catching public spaces.
As part of the request for proposal (RFP) process, the teams, consisting of well-established local developers joining forces with high-profile architects — several of the architects having international credentials — are putting together their visions for the future of the empty 12-acre parcel of land that Google sister company Sidewalk Labs abandoned last year.
Waterfront Toronto, the tri-government corporation that owns most of the Quayside land, located near Parliament Street and Queens Quay East, will decide the finalist early next year, a spokesperson said recently.
Critics suggest the new development at Quayside can’t just be about condos and retail, but must include public connections to the waterfront as well as vibrant spaces for recreation and cultural events.
“We’re trying to establish ourselves as a global city with significant waterfront development. We have failed on that front in many respects to date,” says Shauna Brail, an associate professor with the University of Toronto’s Institute for Management and Innovation.
Our waterfront is less accessible than other cities, she goes on to say.
“We’ve been slow. You can look to many great examples in the last 15 to 20 years at changes to our waterfront and improvements to accessibility, but we still have the wall of the Gardiner Expressway and the wall of tall towers that closes off access to the water,” Brail says.
“So here (Quayside) is this amazing opportunity to do things right and well and effectively on the waterfront and we can’t squander it again,” she adds.
The four shortlisted collaborations for the redevelopment of Quayside are:
- Quayside Impact LP, a team consisting of Dream Unlimited Corp. and Great Gulf working together with lead architects Adjaye Associates, Alison Brooks Architects, along with Henning Larsen
- The Daniels Corp and Hullmark Developments Ltd., teaming up with lead architect Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.
- Hines Canada Management II ULC, which features Hines Canada joining forces with Tridel Builders Inc. and lead architect Foster + Partners
- KMT Quayside Developments Inc., a collaboration between Kilmer, Mattamy Homes and Tricon, with lead architects MVRDV and Cobe.
Assistant professor Petros Babasikas, director of the honours bachelor of arts in architectural studies program at U of T’s John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, says the teams of developers and architects promises the possibility of an “integrated design approach” for Quayside — an approach that considers not only private development and condos, but also the public domain.
“To me the integration of architecture, urbanism and different programs — public, civic, commercial, and market uses — will be the primary driver here and hopefully that’s a balance developers and architects can strike in making their proposals to (Waterfront Toronto),” Babasikas says.
As part of the process for Quayside, the proponents are not allowed to speak to the media or the public about their proposals.
But looking at the backgrounds of some of the RFP participants could provide some insights into the directions the teams might take.
“The results of each one of these (four) collaborations I think, at least architecturally will be very interesting,” Babasikas says.
“Some of these firms are really innovative and their portfolios are based on experimentation,” he adds.
Quayside Impact LP
Team: Dream Unlimited Corp. and Great Gulf, with lead architects Adjaye Associates, Alison Brooks Architects, along with Henning Larsen
Notable buildings: Canary District (Dream), One Bloor (Great Gulf), Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture (Adjaye)
Quayside Impact team member Dream Unlimited is a leading real estate firm, with $12 billion in assets stretching across North America and Europe.
Dream is one of the members of the partnership with all three levels of government that created the mixed-use Canary District housing development east of the downtown core in the West Don Lands.
The George Brown College residence at Cherry and Front streets, and adjoining Cooper Koo YMCA building in the Canary District area, is a Dream creation, known for its large glass windows.
Great Gulf, Dreams’ partner on the Quayside pitch, has developed several iconic buildings in the city, including the Monde condo building on the waterfront, with its signature wavy design. Great Gulf is also the developer of the One Bloor condo highrise at Yonge and Bloor.
On the architectural side of that team, U.K.-based Alison Brooks Architects has designed mixed-use developments that have garnered praise.
The firm was nominated for an award in 2017 for designing Ely Court, a regenerated housing initiative that turned a rundown public housing project in northwest London, U.K., into three midrise blocks of contemporary housing containing about 44 units.
Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, head of Adjaye Associates, has been knighted for his community-oriented designs known around the world. His work includes the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.
Hines Canada Management II ULC
Team: Hines Canada and Tridel Builders Inc., with lead architect Foster + Partners
Notable buildings: CIBC Square (Hines), Aqualuna (Tridel/Hines), The One (Foster + Partners)
Hines and Tridel are well-established real-estate developers in Toronto. Hines is the global firm partnering with Canadian real estate investment, development and asset management company Ivanhoé Cambridge to develop the massive CIBC Square office complex near Bay and Front streets.
Tridel has an extensive portfolio that includes work with Hines on large condo highrises on the waterfront — the Aqualuna, Aquavista and Aquabella buildings.
Tridel is also the driving force behind the Alexandra Park redevelopment — a 12 to15-year remaking that is happening at the 7.2-hectare community near Bathurst and Dundas streets, where just over 400 rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units are being replaced, nearly 400 RGIs refurbished and 1,540 new market condos created.
Tridel was also picked late last year by Toronto Community Housing to take over as the new developer in the remaining phase four and five revitalization of Regent Park.
Foster + Partners, the architectural lead with Hines and Tridel on their Quayside proposal, designed The One, a mixed-use residential building set to be completed in a few years at Yonge and Bloor. Once completed it will become Canada’s tallest building at 80 storeys.
The Daniels Corp. and Hullmark Developments Ltd.
Team: The Daniels Corp. and Hullmark Developments Ltd., with lead architect Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc.
Notable buildings: Regent Park Revitalization (Daniels), Montreal’s New Vic (Diamond Schmitt)
The team of the Daniels Corp. and Hullmark Developments sees two major players on Toronto’s development landscape joining forces.
Daniels is best known for partnering with Toronto Community Housing to launch the multibillion-dollar master planned revitalization of Regent Park. Formerly a massive cluster of public housing buildings, the community is now a mixed-housing community with condos, townhouses, new public housing buildings, a new park, a large new swimming pool, a bank, restaurants and more.
Hullmark has developed several interesting buildings in the city, including a wood frame office midrise in Liberty Village.
Partnering with those developers on the Quayside RFP is Diamond Schmitt Architects, one of the top Canadian architectural firms. They created the design for the New Vic, a project in Montreal that involves the transformation of the former heritage buildings of the Royal Victoria Hospital into a new McGill University campus.
KMT Quayside Developments Inc.
Team: Kilmer, Mattamy Homes and Tricon, with lead architects MVRDV and Cobe
Notable buildings: Amsterdam’s Silodam housing (MVRDV)
KMT Quayside Developments, a collaboration of Kilmer, Mattamy Homes and Tricon, is a union of firms with portfolios and expertise that includes rental housing, business development, investments and infrastructure.
On the architectural side of the team Netherlands-based MVRDV has designed housing developments throughout Europe, include the eye-catching Silodam, units of housing contained in a multicoloured block of housing that sits in Amsterdam harbour.
Danish architectural firm Cobe, designed two of three mixed-use buildings slated for Toronto’s West Don Lands area, buildings slated to be the home for hundreds of rental units, 30 per cent of which will be affordable.
Senior managers with Waterfront Toronto, in addition to representatives from the city and CreateTO, an agency that manages the city’s portfolio of real estate assets, comprise the evaluation committee for the RFP process for Quayside.
The evaluation committee will make recommendations to a steering committee, which in turn will make a recommendation to Waterfront Toronto’s board of directors.
“Waterfront Toronto continues to work with the shortlisted proponents through the RFP stage of the process and we look forward to selecting a preferred proponent for the (Quayside) development in 2022,” Waterfront Toronto spokesperson Carol Webb said in a recent statement.
Donovan Vincent is a housing reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @donovanvincent