3XN’s first North American highrise has been commissioned by a Canadian developer, One Properties in Toronto, Canada. The 43 stories tall building is planned for Toronto’s vibrant and historic Church and Wellesley district. The new high-rise is planned for the northwest corner of the intersection between Church and Wellesley, or what is known to many as the heart of city’s LGBTQ community.
Engaging the community as part of the design process
In the design process, One Properties and 3XN consulted extensively with the neighbourhood and held three community engagement sessions over the course of three months. 3XN went into the first consultation with a five design architect team, a blank canvas, and most importantly open ears.
In January, the first round of consultation reflected the neighbourhood’s concerns and ambitions, along with the discussion on the Church Wellesley Village Neighbourhood plan. This was used as the basis for six principles that were determined as the foundation for the future design of the project. Following the roundtable discussion that defined key principles, 3XN came up with seven unique conceptual designs for the development’s podium.
These seven concepts were brought to the second consultation in February and comprised of various aspect that could be discussed, debated and refined during the community engagement process. At the third meeting on March 23rd, two refined options for the podium concepts were revealed, presenting a combination of favored elements from the seven initial designs, along with a proposed plan for the tower.
Designing a high rise from the bottom up
In designing ‘Church and Wellesley’, 3XN have taken a bottom-up approach to designing a high-rise, starting out with determining the podium and how that space could give back to the city. The corner of Church and Wellesley is a central public space of the neighborhood, and the building has to recognize, embrace, and celebrate that. The most visible gesture of that celebration is a two-story plaza that faces the intersection.
This balconied piazza, or the public space, is intended to facilitate community activity, both informal gatherings as well as marquee events such as during Toronto’s annual pride. The floors are connected by a grand staircase that serves as a seating area, as well as a way up and down. The upper level “cat walk” is intended as a vantage point for watching the street, and retractable glass can open or close off the plaza depending on the weather.
Stacking the village
The tower is divided into four separate masses, with inspiration drawn from the existing townhouses in the neighbourhood; literally a ‘vertical village.’ The building has two identities, one for Church street, which is low-rise and retail; and one for Wellesley Street – a more conventional tall building reflecting the urban development of downtown Toronto. Topping off at 153 meters, the tower’s exterior consists of an alternating pattern of solids and voids, clad in a combination of architectural metal panels and vision glass.
Church and Wellesley are proposed as a rental building, providing a diverse mix of unit types not found in many of the new developments. The units will be served by an indoor amenity space, including a lounge with kitchen and dining space, theatre room, saunas, fitness, and yoga areas. The Indoor amenity spaces will be connected with outdoor space in the form of a wraparound terrace with views overlooking the surrounding neighborhood. Source by 3XN.
- Location: Toronto, Canada
- Architect: 3XN
- Project Team: Kim Herforth Nielsen, Jens Holm, Laura Wagner, Ryan Newman, Peter Stilling, Matthias Altwicker
Local architect: Graziani & Corazza Architects Inc.
- Landscape Architect: Ferris + Associates
- Planning Consultant: Bousfields Inc.
- Structural Engineer: RJC Engineers
- Mechanical Engineer: MCW Consultants Ltd.
- Civil Engineer: WSP
- Geotechnical Engineer: EXP Services
- Transportation Engineer: BA Consulting Group Ltd.
- Vertical Transportation: KJA Consultants Inc.
- Acoustics/Vibration: HGC Engineering
- Energy Model: EQ Building Performance
- Building Envelope: BVDA Engineering Inc.
- Client: One Properties
- Typology: Residential, Retail, Community Space
- Size: 41,000 m2 (410,000 ft2) /430 units
- Height: 153 m (495 ft) / 43 stories
- Construction Start: 2019
- Expected completion: 2021
- Images: Courtesy of 3XN
Article by Marco Rinaldi