Remember two years ago when Westbank, Allied Properties REIT, and Bjarke Ingels Group proposed possibly one of the most creative mixed-use developments Toronto has ever seen? Well, we’re guessing by now you’ve heard that the King Street West development has been approved!
The mountainous, pixelated, mixed-use building will surround a central plaza, connected by walking paths. The new structure is designed in such a way as to protect the heritage buildings lining King St. In our opinion, the project raises the bar for architectural design in the city.
“With King Street West, we wanted to find an alternative to the tower and podium you see a lot of in Toronto and revisit some of Safdie’s revolutionary ideas, but rather than a utopian experiment on an island, have it nested into the heart of the city. It would be strange if one of the most diverse cities in the world had the most homogenous architecture,” says Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
The renderings are impressive, and the idea that another “starchitect” is doing work in Toronto is enough to get us excited for this project. There are many details we’d still like to know, like how many units there will be, what kind of retail and commercial space will be included, what will other parts of the public realm look like, etc. These details will surface as the project moves forward.
For now, we’re looking at the bigger picture and what this approval means for the King West neighbourhood. West of Spadina, King West has been developing a new identity over the last few years. More and more marketing, PR, and creative agencies are opening up shop, along with new restaurants, coffee shops, and bakeries. The streets are packed with young, working professionals, who work and live in the neighbourhood, or at least live nearby. Dare we call it a “cool” Financial District?
At Spadina and Front, The Well by RioCan and Allied is in the works. This will be another large mixed-use community, featuring residential (condos and rental), offices, and retail. The plan also calls for an enhanced pedestrian and street level experience.
Casting our sights further west to Front and Bathurst, Minto recently topped off Minto Westside, as well as the rental portion of the site, 39 Niagara. The white panelling on the exterior is nearly complete and work on the interior is underway.
These three major projects are the future of the King West neighbourhood. The population in the area will surge once Minto Westside is complete with more than 600 condo units scheduled for occupancy in 2019. And these people will be relying on transit and mostly working downtown.
We’re going to see a lot of pressure on the Bathurst streetcar, Spadina streetcar, and King streetcar. In our opinion, the King Street Pilot has been a success, so we feel like it makes sense to make this system permanent in the area. The City has to keep our young, skilled professionals moving smoothly!
We really can’t wait to watch the King Street West project move forward. It’s a game changer for sure!