Photos by Joshua Meles Rating: NNNNN
Like all anti-sprawl folks, we applaud density, but give us a break. Some developers are taking advantage of the intensification push, turning in street-wrecking, neighbourhood-stifling designs. We asked councillors for the worst examples in their wards, and here's what they chose.
CityPlace on Railway Lands southwest of Rogers Centre
It won honourable mention in the "visions and master plans" category at this year's Architecture And Urban Design Awards. But CityPlace is only adding more glass and steel to a waterfront – 20 high-rise towers with 7,500 units on 18 hectares – that's already cut off by skyscrapers. The space being offered up for parks, a measly 3 hectares, just isn't enough for all the warm and fuzzy things the developer is saying about community-building.
Minto towers at Yonge and Eglinton
If there's such a thing as too high at a major city node, this is it. While towers in the 20-storey range are permitted in the Yonge-Eglinton area, the Minto plan, which features towers of 51 and 37 storeys respectively, will overwhelm the area and sets a scary new benchmark. The taller of the two buildings will be an astounding 100 metres higher than the permitted limit. The shadow Minto is casting over Yonge-Eg is no model for good community relations.
The Standard at Lansdowne and Dupont.
For a project that was supposed to kick-start redevelopment on derelict industrial lands in the west end, the Standard makes an uninspiring statement. The stucco facade is already beginning to look worn. Design? It's basically a box. There's no street-level retail in an area that desperately needs it, and zero amenities. Developers usually offer cash for community projects when they build, but not in this case. The bad news? Plans for two more high-rises on the site are in the works.
New York Towers at Bayview and Sheppard
Rather than conjuring up lower Manhattan, the two short Chrysler-esque towers in this four-tower grouping look more like "a miniature set piece from Team America: World Police," as one councillor put it. We love tall towers near subways, but the developers assumed multiple cars for these condo dwellers despite the nearby Sheppard line. And save for a sliver of park on the east side, there's little in the way of usable green space or any reason to take to the sidewalk for a stroll. There's also next to no connection to the surrounding community, unless we count the homes developers didn't buy when blocks were busted to make way for the project.
Rosewell Court redevelopment at Avenue and Lawrence
The new design of these six- and seven-storey condos may be an improvement over the three-storey walk-ups they replaced, but the real crime here is the loss of some 115 affordable rental units. The city, armed with signatures from thousands of hopping-mad residents, took the developer to the Ontario Municipal Board to argue that densities of this order are better suited to major arterials, not side streets in established neighbourhoods. But to no avail.
Infill development at Coxwell and Gerrard
Infill housing can provide the impetus for revitalization in slightly rundown areas like this neglected stretch between Gerrard and Eastwood. Unfortunately, the developer here opted for replicas of the tired-looking single-family dwellings all too common in the east end, and turned this enclave off Coxwell into a car path without green space or streetscaping. A missed opportunity.