Concord Park Place: Discovery

Concord Adex Development Corporation builds not just buildings but entire master-planned communities. One such community in northern Toronto is now bearing its first fruits; Concord Park Place Discovery has welcomed its first residents.

The farther people live from the city core, the more likely they are to drive. Discovery will certainly appeal to drivers, given nearby access to major east-west and north-south highways.

But Concord Adex will give Discovery buyers alternatives to their cars. Subway stops at the northeast and northwest corners of the development sit on a “spur” line that connects to a downtown line. “The subway was just being built when we were doing the preliminary design work,” recalls Brian Curtner, principal of Quadrangle Architects Ltd.

Discovery plans to host a car-sharing service and run shuttle busses to both transit stops and nearby malls during rush hours. A diagonal pathway through the west part of Discovery leads directly to one TTC station. “We hope to reduce people’s dependency on cars,” says Gabriel Leung, director of development for Concord Adex.

Built on grounds formerly occupied by a Canadian Tire warehouse/distribution centre, Discovery consists of blocks 19 and 20. Block 19 contains two 28-storey buildings, while Block 20’s buildings measure 16 and 12 stories, plus a series of three-storey townhomes.

The project team accomplished a lot since breaking ground in 2009. “We didn’t really have any problems building Discovery,” says Ed Caranci, senior project manager for EllisDon Residential Inc. “Outside of above-average rainfall we had in May and June of this year, the project proceeded smoothly. We actually made up time in the winter on forming!”

Tim Jantzi, a partner with MCW Consultants Ltd. and the mechanical project manager for Discovery, echoes Caranci’s comments. He notes that MCW enjoys a relationship with Concord Adex that spans 15 years. “We’ve stayed with a consistent team, and mechanical and electrical systems,” Jantzi says, adding “We’re always fine-tuning them as we go.”

Canadian Tire kept a parcel of land on the north-east corner of the plot where it plans to build offices, and Concord Adex provided several means of access to the land.

“On the north edge of this project, we built a cul de sac (Singer Court) meant to serve both residents and the office building,” says Curtner, adding “There’s a passage beside the parking garage running from the south to the future office building to the north.”

“When they’re ready, they can break down the block wall where the tunnel ends and connect it to their building,” adds Neil Hylton, project manager for Concord Adex.

“One unusual feature of the project is the variation of soil strata supporting capacities,” wrote Agha Hasan in an email. “The towers on the east side are supported on very weak stratum. The foundation system for this block consists of 1,200 driven structural steel H-piles going anywhere from 14 to 20 metres down, a very unusual foundation system to be used in Toronto.”

“On the other hand the soil strata on the west side is strong enough to support the building on spread footings,” adds the principal for Halcrow Yolles. “An expansion joint has been provided in the building to separate the foundation types.”

The architects adapted their design accordingly. “We put most of the parking on the west end of the site,” says Tim Gorley, executive vice-president for Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects.

Soil conditions affected the project timetable. “We couldn’t start Block 20 until we finished the pile work for Block 19,” Caranci says.

The site also features a three-storey change in grade sloping down from northwest to southeast, necessitating a series of retaining walls. The podium on the northeast side stays level towards the southwest, where Esther Shiner Boulevard swoops below CN Rail tracks.

The CN Rail line, or more accurately, the required 30-metre setback from the tracks, forms the property’s eastern boundary. The project team used the land’s contours to prevent trains that derail from hitting a building.

That setback, plus a centre court surrounded by Discovery’s buildings, form much of the landscaping to date, part of a formidable amount of public land Concord Adex plans to continue just west of Discovery.

During construction, nearby businesses like IKEA to the south and a Canadian Tire store to the west, proved accommodating thanks to open communication plus measures like vibration monitoring and dust control.

“We regularly cleaned Esther Shiner Boulevard,” says Caranci of the road that leads to IKEA and borders Discovery to the south.

Having 1,100 potential customers take up residence so close to them may also have encouraged surrounding businesses. “They’re going to need furniture,” and other things, Hylton points out.

The units themselves feature linear kitchens and open-concept layouts to help maximize space.

While maintaining cordial relations with neighbouring businesses, Discovery does not mimic their design. For instance, the two sides of each tower sport different colours. “They each look like two thin buildings merged into one,” Leung says.

Concord Adex located amenity spaces (pool, exercise room, games rooms) at the south end in black and white box expressions leading to the CN Rail underpass. “We took advantage of the slope by creating spectacular spaces at the south end of the site,” Curtner explains, noting they’ll fill with natural light streaming through roughly 200 panes of glass.

That glass makes a great canvas for Vancouver artist Derek Root, who embedded colour film within the glazing system to create, in Leung’s words, “watercolour imagery.” “It will light up like a colour lantern at night, as you see it from the highway,” Leung says. Root also stylized old Ontario survey maps and embedded them in the street-level wall below the white box.

Meanwhile a second artist, Jaakko Pernu of Finland, has created three pseudo-clouds made of corten steel as a sculpture trellis which people can walk through.

To the west, the Discovery Piazza just across the street from Canadian Tire will feature both street-level retail and a European-like courtyard where people can linger. Drivers will be able to park underground while they shop and discover the community started by Discovery.

Project Highlights

Location

Concord Park Place Discovery (Block 19/20)
1015 Sheppard Avenue East
North York, Ontario – M2K 1C2

Owner/Developer

Concord Adex Development Corporation

Architect

Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects

Design Architect

Quadrangle Architects

General Contractor

EllisDon Residential Inc

Interior Designer

Cecconi Simone Inc

Structural Consultant

Halcrow Yolles

Mechanical/Electrical Consultant

MCW Consultants Ltd.

Cost Consultant

Altus Group Limited

Total area

98,500 square metres (gross construction area)

Total construction cost

$175 million

 

This article originally published by Award Magazine. For a PDF of this article, click here.

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