Cruising down bayview...

Thursday 24 Dec 2009

The new shape of high density and mixed use from Kirkor Architects & Planners

Immediately neighbouring the Sheppard subway line, this site enjoys a high vantage point at the prominent intersection of Bayview and Sheppard Avenues. However, the ambitious goals for a mixed use development with ground level retail and an extensive residential amenity program was to fit on a thin, block-long strip of boulevard separating the Bayview Village Shopping Centre and Bayview Avenue, posing a great challenge for the architectural team. This narrow site, being a typical piece of ‘brownfield’ or left-over land found all too often around the periphery of large-site developments throughout many urban areas, presented the ideal opportunity to develop high density mixed-use developments along major transit arteries.

The zoning in force, passed ten years prior to commencement of this project, no longer recognised the densification strategies being aggressively pursued by the City along the Sheppard subway corridor, or the efficiencies required by development teams to ensure a successful project. The encumbering challenges to this site were not only found in the mere 35m width and complex grading, but more in the expectations from the community to retain previous zoning intentions, including terraced, pyramidal massing.The terraced steps, the curvilinear lines, the controlled elevations to each of these steps, when combined with the City’s expectations to push massing towards the Bayview /S heppard intersection to strengthen the prominence of these crossroads, ultimately led to a ship-like form, easily apparent in early massing studies.

With the use of multiple curves and solid bands of aluminium edges, the design was intended to hide the enormous massing of a 185m long building containing 447 residential units, only contributing to the ship-like character. The south end of the building was designed to step down to the subway entrance at the corner of Bayview and Sheppard while establishing an iconic character for the development and a landmark feature for the community. A generous amenity terrace at the 8th level with an ultra modern glowing trellis adorns the building and provides a panoramic view of the Toronto skyline. The Bayview or west elevation was a skillful exercise to carve up an urban wall and visually shift the massing to enhance the stepping and to create meaningful spaces for the residential units.

Despite having the difficult site grading, a lot of attention has been paid to nurture a comfortable pedestrian environment at the ground level with help of a strong lit-up canopy and careful massing of the ground floor uses. In contrast, the north elevation was treated in an understated fashion with simple terraces with the latest green roof technology addressing this building as a part of the existing building fabric. The east elevation, while facing the existing shopping mall, contains the building drop-off, loading and all servicing to the building but also presents an interesting elevation which downplays the massing by the terracing form and the interplay of solid and void.

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