I was told "We believe that King Street is special enough." In other words, their concern was that this proposal would take away from the converted warehouse buildings which now dominate the area as offices and restaurants, and they wanted new development further back from those buildings, and the way to do that was to push the density higher into a typical point tower, with a podium that's much smaller than the footprint of the development we are getting. It was a subjective call in regards to preserving the neighbourhood character.Yes, that immediately stood out to me as a bizarre sentiment. Why would they intentionally and persistently try to thwart such an imaginative proposal in favour of banality? What kind of a message does that send to developers: don’t bother bringing your A game; we prefer duds? One would think that city planners would want to lionize the developers and architect for putting forth such an exceptional plan for this site.
I'm glad the Planning Department vision is not coming to pass, but I am also glad that version 1.0 isn't either.
That image did have me concerned, and from the first public consultation I asked for something less relentless along King, (with more variation in the diagonal cube wall), and that pulled back more from the heritage buildings. Those were among the changes made, and I think the massing below is a massive improvement.
With the surface pretty much entirely reflective now (other than where it will be planted), and with greater separation in the courtyard, with lower total height, and finally with larger openings for the pedestrian paths, I'm not too concerned about that now. I believe there will be a lot of reflected light in the courtyard owing to the myriad of sawtooth surfaces. We will no longer get this first image…Because this project did - and still does - have issues. Specifically access to sunlight. I certianly get giving some leeway for creativity - but the tower and podium formula is so popular for a reason, and that is that it works. It creates density with about as few impacts on the environment as possible.
…we'll get something closer to this second one—although it would be a few years before it were this green:
That's not true actually: the mid-block north-south connection was always part of the plan. It's more open now though, and they now own the land on the Wellington side of the block where they'll put the cat-themed park in, so we are a huge step ahead in terms of a permanent connection there.This project when first proposed was essentially a gigantic 16 storey hulk that would loom over the entire district. It killed a lot of mid block connections this stretch of King is famous for, and presented an unrelenting street facade along a significant portion of King west, again, an area known for the exact opposite with its various warehouse buildings and lanes bringing people deeper into the blocks.
It'll certainly still be impressive in size, but they've added enough articulation, reduced enough bulk, and lightened that cladding enough to have mitigated my concerns, anyway.The development has since rectified a lot of these issues - but if you ask me is still going to end up being over-scaled and monolithic in nature. I'd love to be wrong though.