by Jerry ElengicalOct 22, 2021
The mixed-use urban development proposal of ORCA Toronto by architect Moshe Safdie’s Boston-based Safdie Architects aims to weave together surrounding neighbourhoods with an expansive urban park and reconnect the downtown area with the city’s developing waterfront. The proposal seeks to foster a strong communal space, creating a unique experience of the city for both its residents and visitors.
Hovering over an existing 100-meter wide and 800-meter-long rail corridor, the Downtown Toronto project will be developed on a 16.5 acre site situated on the west of the iconic CN Tower. While 10.5 acres is dedicated to the urban park, the remaining six acres will accommodate the residential, office, retail, and transit facilities.
“Our design aspires to forge a reconnection in the community fabric by creating a lively park that is economically viable and promises a unique destination experience for Toronto,” shares Safdie, a citizen of Israel, Canada, and the United States. “As an isolated park is unlikely to generate the diversity of activity required to animate the neighbourhood, our design integrates amenities for city life like shops, restaurants, and offices into the park itself, drawing in residents and visitors alike,” he adds.
The project comprises a series of nine rectilinear towers, including a corner office tower and eight residential towers, with approximately 3000 units all linked together with elevated multi-storey bridges. The design of these towers creates a sense of openness and porosity while allowing adequate sunlight to filter within the spaces. The uniform square openings along with a series of protruding units arranged in a diagonal pattern on the façade help break the monotony of the towers and provide the users spectacular views of Toronto’s cityscape.
Designed in partnership with California-based PWP Landscape Architecture, the multi-level urban park includes various open lawns, playgrounds, walking trails, and bike paths that can be accessed by ramps, escalators, and elevators.
As per Sean Scensor, partner and lead architect on the project, “ORCA Toronto is a study in balance and integration: between open space and density, landscape and building, private development and public interest."
To ensure the vibrancy of the park, various shops, restaurants and cafes, all open to the outdoor areas of the park at multiple levels and these spaces are seamlessly woven with the park’s landscape. Furthermore, the street is also activated with a continuous retail activity enabled by the retail shops along the front street façade. “The project introduces a new generation of retail, beyond the traditional interior shopping mall; one in which nature and the marketplace are integrated to create an enhanced, singular experience,” adds Safdie.
Along with creating a holistic experience for the residents and users, the proposal is also designed to create an increased connectivity with the surrounding neighbourhoods. To facilitate an easy and uninterrupted movement from surrounding streets to the park, direct access points are provided on all north-south cross streets for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Once realised, ORCA Toronto is expected to stand out as an important landmark in the downtown area creating a unique recreational destination for the people of the city.
Name: ORCA Toronto
Location: Downton Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Site Area: 16.5 Acres
Building Area: 6 Acres, 10.5 Acres for urban park
Client: CRAFT Development Corporation, Kingsmen Group Inc., and Fengate Asset Management
Architect: Safdie Architects
Collaborators: PWP Landscape Architecture, ARUP Engineering, Sweeny&Co (Local Architect)
(Text by Khushboo Patel, intern at stirworld.com)