One of the most significant projects in Toronto’s history
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Modelled after a mountain range, the Bjarke-Ingels design features a terraced, pixelated ziggurat with peaks. The inner-courtyard, which basically functions as a valley, would be used as a common space for pedestrians and public events.
The daring design has been working through a series of changes at the behest of several parties, including the community and the city.
King Street West is set in a transitional area of Toronto. From the tall towers of the Central Business District to the East, to the low-rise neighborhoods in the Northwest, the skyline is a mark of the city’s progress. Located at the meeting point of three 20th century neighborhood parks, BIG, Westbank and Allied propose a mixed use development with a public plaza that will create a new center for the community while connecting the various pedestrian pathways that crisscross the area. The building is organized as a traditional perimeter block with a public plaza in the center. The plaza itself is defined by two distinct atmospheres: a lushly landscaped forest paired next to an urban, hardscaped court. The resulting balance between these perceived opposites is a reflection of Toronto’s current state of rapid redevelopment: the union of old and new, an open community atmosphere in an intimate setting, calming green scenery within a bustling urban context. Surrounding the plaza, King Street West rises as sets of pixels extruded upwards to create space for housing, retail and boutique offices—avoiding the footprints of heritage buildings that already exist on the site. Each pixel is set at the size of a room; rotated 45 degrees from the street grid to increase exposure to light and air. At the base, pixels lift to provide 24/7 access across the courtyard, while the roof surface is manipulated to allow sunlight to penetrate the entire building, creating space for green terraces attached to each unit. The resulting undulating façade is a connective topography—allowing increased circulation through the neighborhood while creating an abundance of green space normally reserved for the suburbs.
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"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." Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
Address: 489-539 King Street West, Toronto, ON, M5V 1K4
Developer: Westbank Corp, Allied REIT
Architect: Bjarke Ingels/BIG
Number of Storeys: 16 Storeys