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Quayside Update to Waterfront Design Review Panel

Jul 25, 2019

Quayside Update for Waterfront Design Review Panel

Waterfront Toronto’s Design Review Panel reviews a presentation by Sidewalk Labs.


By: Chris Glaisek

Waterfront Toronto's Design Review Panel (DRP) considered elements of Sidewalk Labs' proposal for Quayside at its July 24, 2019 meeting (MIDP Overview and Urban Design - Stage 2). This was an opportunity for Sidewalk Labs to introduce the Draft Master Innovation and Development Plan (MIDP) and show their design intent for Quayside and receive feedback from the DRP.

Waterfront Toronto’s mandate is to ensure revitalization of the waterfront meets enhanced standards of design excellence, quality of place, and public accessibility. The DRP plays a key role in helping proponents and Waterfront Toronto to achieve excellence in buildings, parks, and public realm by providing advice to ensure the projects meet or exceed Waterfront Toronto standards for design excellence. Led by some of Canada’s most creative and accomplished city-building professionals, the DRP helps ensure we are building one of the world’s greatest urban waterfronts.

Following a presentation by Sidewalk Labs, and lengthy discussion and consideration, the DRP voted Conditional Support for the proposed Quayside Phase One concept plan, excluding the public realm. Phase One includes the development blocks on the north side of Queens Quay, west of Small Street. A Conditional Support vote indicates that the project, as presented, meets many but not all the relevant planning, policy and/or design excellence objectives. In this case, the DRP commented that the refinements since the last presentation are showing potential.

Rendering of Sidewalk Labs' current proposal for the urban design and public realm at Quayside

Staff from Sidewalk Labs presented their current proposal for the urban design and public realm at Quayside for review and comment by the Design Review Panel. Image provided courtesy of Sidewalk Labs.

In considering the public realm proposal, the Panel voted Non-Support for the plan as presented. This means that the project does not currently meet planning, policy and/or design excellence objectives. Concerns voiced by the Panel about the public realm centred on the proposed Parliament Plaza, Parliament Slip and Silo Park. The Panel observed that public spaces were heavily programmed and did not embrace the continuity of the public realm that Waterfront Toronto has achieved over the past 10 years along the waterfront. Concern was also expressed about the Stoa concept, the lack of a detailed retail strategy on Queens Quay as well as about the lack of detail in some illustrations needed by a peer review Panel such as the DRP. As a result, the proposed public realm requires substantial revision when brought back to the Panel in order to proceed further. The DRP recognized that Sidewalk Labs is still conducting design research on the Stoa and the overall retail strategy, and look forward to the next presentation.

DRP Chair Paul Bedford reflected that since the DRP’s inception a number of waterfront projects have received conditional support and non-support at early review stages but have been successfully implemented: “those projects whose proponents address and respond to the concerns raised by our Panel, such as Sherbourne Common and Underpass Park, have gone on to receive Full Support and have been successfully delivered.”

Sidewalk Labs’ presentation to the DRP is available here. Minutes from this meeting, including consensus comments from the Panel, will be published in September 2019. Sidewalk Labs will return to the DRP in September for further deep-dive presentations that will focus on the buildings, mobility, and sustainability proposals.

More information on the Design Review Panel and its process can be found in the Handbook available on Waterfront Toronto’s website. And, check back next week for a blog that takes a deeper dive into the Design Review Panel!