The OMB appeal hearing started yesterday for this project and is open to the public (655 Bay Street, 16th floor, check the monitor on the 16th floor for hearing room, 10am-5pm). It is expected to last until next Monday or Tuesday. At yesterday's kickoff, there was opening statements and then Peter Clewes gave his testimony. His cross-examination by the City began in the afternoon. An interesting tidbit in his cross-examination with the City's lawyer is that he openly trashed
Westbank/BIG's design at King Toronto and called it a "lost opportunity" and implied that he would have preferred more verticality (as found in his Wellington House design) in a series of buildings along King Street. He defended his "toast" massing (I prefer "cereal box" if we are using breakfast metaphors) of Wellington House by stating that his design would have been more appropriate for the King Toronto site than BIG's mountains. He later implied that for his design submission in the original RFP for the Well, he had also designed the buildings on the south side of Wellington Street in a similar "toast" massing.
Anyways, this is a precedent OMB case for Wellington Street West, so if you are interested, stay tuned here and I will try to give you updates on when the good parts of the hearing are coming up. This morning at 10am was the start of the cross-examination of Peter Clewes by the Wellington Place Neighbourhood Association's (WPNA) lawyer and then it will probably be a day and a half of Lamb's planning consultant testimony and cross by the City and WPNA. Not exciting stuff as policy references are tedious to sit through in a hearing. The hearing will then see testimony by the City's planner and urban designer. That will be followed by testimony by Paul Bedford (former chief planner of the City of Toronto) as a WPNA witness, on the intent of the two King's planning policy introduced in the late 90's (he led the effort at the time) and how that relates to Wellington Street West between Spadina and Portland. The Bedford testimony is expected to heavily attended as this is a rare appearance as a witness for Bedford.
As well, below is a physical model that Clewes built for the hearing (photo is looking east on Wellington Street West). Shows the Well, Portland Commons, King Toronto, the proposed Wellington House and the two approved buildings (one on Spadina and the one in behind) not yet constructed. The rear setback from Wellington House's podium onto King Toronto's heritage building (currently at 1.7m from building faces) with the secret garden and smokestack on the southeast corner of their site was a topic of concern in the hearing yesterday by the City. Upon cross-examination, Clewes admitted that his current design needed improvement by expanding it to "something between 1.7m and 5.5m" (the minimum required). His testimony on this matter did not show a great deal of thought had gone into this rear setback or even providing an opportunity for a pedestrian connection to King Toronto's eastern site. It may have been neglected on purpose to be used as a negotiating point with the City, but still disappointing that these games are being played by such an experienced architect in our City.