Update on Pinnacle’s 1 Yonge

For those readers who have been following our blog, you may remember a post a couple of months back regarding the future of 1 Yonge.  Formerly a parking lot, the land was put up for sale and Pinnacle International almost immediately expressed their interest in purchasing it.

The current state of the site.

Pinnacle International recognized the spot as a piece of land that is full of potential and possibility, and recently submitted to the City its development plans: a comprehensive set of buildings at the foot of Yonge Street.

The potentially landmark project has an ideal location- right in the heart of Toronto’s stunning waterfront. Despite some small concerns of traffic congestion that the project may bring, it seems as if the public generally accepts and encourages this development.  The area at the base of the city, which is what many tourists first set eyes on, should reflect our growing architectural confidence and accomplishments.  What better way to show off our city than with a state-of-the-art residential and retail complex designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects?

The design, first revealed a few months back, consisted of five new buildings, one as high as 98-storeys.  Now, a new and improved plan includes the development of a sixth building, the tallest now reaching only 88 storeys.  Below are a few rendering designs by Hariri Pontarini Architects, displaying plans for the base of the complex.  These renderings also include images of the extensive landscape provided by NAK Design Group.  Up-to-date renderings of the full complex are not yet available.

The Pinnacle proposal features extensive retail frontage on the first two floors of the complex, above which a sheltering glass canopy will hang, deflecting wind and rain away from the base of the towers. The images above show partial views of five of the six towers planned for the site. Spanning a large city block, Pinnacle plans to divide the site in two, complete with an eastbound extension of Harbour Street, one block past Yonge to Freeland.

On the south block, in the right background of the image above would be the Toronto Star building, extended skyward with new floors added to the top of the existing structure, plus a new 40-storey office tower (hidden behind other towers in this image), and a 70-storey tower with a hotel component, the bottom portion of which is seen in the image above, and new since the initial plans for the site.

On the north block would be four residential towers of 75, 80, 80, and 88 storeys, three of which can be seen in the above photos. The residential towers will surround a tree-lined courtyard with access to the complex, which will be a shared space by pedestrians and vehicles alike (who says you can’t accommodate both?!).

In total, the development represents 6.3 Million square feet of space. It will be connected via the climate-controlled PATH pedestrian network to Union Station and beyond, linking 1 Yonge to the city’s and country’s largest transportation hub. Surrounding sidewalks will provide a wide Yonge Street Promenade connecting all the way from the Financial District to Queens Quay (pictured below) and Lake Ontario.

Anson Kwok, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Pinnacle International said this of the company’s development plans:  “Pinnacle International is looking forward to creating a monumental residential, office, retail and hotel destination that will stand the test of time. Our vision includes a variety of mixed-used buildings within a master planned community setting for this vibrant waterfront location.”

What do you think of the plans for 1 Yonge?  Is the plan put forth by Pinnacle International a worthy one?  Let us know what you think!  And stay tuned as we keep you up to date on all development progress!

Sources (images included):




Toronto: An Origin Story

Ever wonder how Toronto became the city it is today? Or, how it got its name?  Though many citizens have no knowledge of their city’s origins, Toronto’s history is rich with culture and legacy.

“Toronto” is originally an aboriginal term, or, more specifically, a Mohawk word.  Before becoming the name of our beloved city (which, by the way, only dropped the name “City of York” around 180 years ago), the word “Toronto” journeyed all over southern Ontario. It was used as the name for rivers, towns, passages and lakes.  In fact, the name dates as far back as 1793, when British colonial officials founded the ‘Town of York’ on what was then the Upper Canadian frontier.  Over 40 years later, that village officially became the ‘City of Toronto’ in 1834.

Originally, Toronto was applied to a narrow stretch of water between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching at what today is Sophie’s Landing. The word as used in this case, Anglicized from the Mohawk, was spelled tkaronto and taronto and was defined as: an area where trees grow in shallow water.

For years, the word was misunderstood by various old-world explorers. As a result, it was bounced around the area between Lake Simcoe and Lake Huron and applied to both. The first colonial settlement on this part of Lake Ontario was called Fort Rouillé.  It was a French trading post depicted in drawings with a high wooden fence, situated at what today is Exhibition Place.

The small complex – alternatively known as Fort Toronto – was founded in 1750 and contained a soldier’s quarters, kitchen, a forge, and an ammunition store. It was built to attack vessels servicing a rival British trading post at Oswego, N.Y. Rouillé was abandoned and burned by its own troops retreating at the end of the Battle of Quebec in 1759, a key battle that led to France ceding much of its land claims in North America.

34 years later, John Graves Simcoe ordered a garrison built at what is now Fort York at the mouth of Garrison Creek. The English military leader believed the location inside the enclosed Toronto harbour would be easy to defend.

Simcoe renamed what was then called the “Town of Dublin” to the “Town of York” in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second son of then-King George III. It was developed on the waterfront to the east of the military base.

The Town of York eventually grew to surround the old fort. In 1834, the province’s legislative council, the leaders of the area around what had become the largest city in Upper Canada, voted to incorporate the community of York as an official city.

The name “Toronto,” then recognized as an alternative name for the region, was favoured over “York” partly because the original York in England was considered to be a grim locale, and partly because those christening the city wanted to honour its Mohawk and Aboriginal origins.

William Bent Berczy, a member of the Legislative Committee representing Kent at the time, said Toronto had a “musical sound” and was ” in every respect much better” than the original title of “York.” The others on the committee largely agreed, and the city of Toronto was officially founded that same year.  And that is how our city came to be!

Despite dropping the name for Toronto, the York name lives on all over Toronto and the GTA, from East York, North York, York Region and the countless other York-related streets and communities. Toronto isn’t just limited to Canada- there are Toronto’s in the United States, Australia, and U.K.. All these Toronto outposts also derive their name from that narrow stretch of water near Orillia.

Want to learn more about our city?  Just click here to get tons more info on the city you live in, including heritage and history education, upcoming city events, and various lectures!

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Manhole Art

Imagine walking down Yonge Street and stumbling upon a piece of art, literally.  In some cities, and perhaps soon in Toronto, that’s a daily occurrence.  Though manholes have traditionally been strictly functional, providing easy access for city workers to get underground, in some parts of the world their purpose has been gradually changing.

Typically, manholes are used as entry points for maintenance workers who need to work on public utilities that have been built underground.   They’re generally used for the maintenance of storm drains, gas supplies, and telephone lines or the local sewer system.  Over the last few years, there’s been a growing trend toward using manhole covers as a display for street art, also known as manhole art.  Sounds strange, right?  The term almost seems like an oxymoron: manhole (almost universally considered ugly) and art.  The two don’t exactly fit together naturally.

Japan, along with some other cities, is changing that notion.  Japan originally began the trend of manhole art all the way back in the 1980s.  Today, some 95 per cent of Japanese municipalities have incorporated this idea as a way to brighten up their landscapes. The art displays range from silly and playful designs to depictions of more rich aspects of Japanese culture.  Pedestrians will find artistic manhole covers unique to each city and town. As such, manhole art has become an important part of the country’s national culture with over 6,000 manhole cover artworks across the nation.

The unique concept has caught on elsewhere. Cities around the world are taking this small idea to creating more beautiful streets.

The idea for artist-designed manhole covers in Seattle came from that city’s Arts Commissioner, Jacquetta Blanchett, after she admired them in Florence, Italy in the late 1950s. Blanchett made a private donation to finance 13 covers designed by artist Anne Knight. In turn, other donors came forward, and 19 covers designed by Knight were installed.

Vail, Colorado has incorporated manhole art into the urban landscape as well.  They even offer replicas for sale! According to the official website, “The custom cast iron manhole covers resemble the real ones, but are slightly lighter. The two-foot diameter, 52-pound version retails for $295. Suggested uses include end tables, patio or driveway inlays, garden conversation pieces, landscaping, etc. The smaller version, an eight-inch, six-pound gate valve cover sells for $65, with possible uses to include hot pads, deck pieces, decorative wall pieces (inside or out), etc.” This is a city that truly embraces the idea!

Vancouver, another city that embraces the eccentric art idea, recently held an Art Underfoot competition, inviting all locals to submit design ideas for new manhole covers. The Public Art Program received 640 entries!

Even stranger, in 1998, the Sewer Museum of Paris (yes, there’s such a thing!) held a Sewers and Colours art exhibition which displayed prints created from nearly 100 manhole covers from some of the world’s largest cities.

The trend has yet to spread to Toronto, but could you imagine the potential? Toronto has plenty of culturally-rich neighbourhoods that could promote neighbourhood-specific designs.  From the rock and roll heritage of Queen Street West to the culturally rich Chinatown, Koreatown and Little Italy, Toronto’s districts each have their own unique identity to be displayed.  Even the Entertainment District has a distinct character.

At the end of the day, adding a little color to an otherwise dull city street can’t hurt.

Who would have thought that such ordinary objects as manhole covers would ever be considered works of art?

What do you make of it?  Would you like to seeToronto’s streets brightened by decorative manhole covers? Do you think they would work in a city that has harsh winter months?  Let us know!

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