Public Space

Creating Pedestrian Breathing Room At The Busiest Intersection in Canada

 

Yonge and Bloor is easily the most well-known intersection in Canada. Immediately, by mentioning the intersection of these two central streets, people know that this is the heart of a thriving city that repeatedly ranks high in global surveys measuring the happiness and livability of cities. It is understood around the world that Toronto knows how to live. With its diversity, safety, financial and creative clout, proximity to New York and Chicago, cultural and recreational destinations, this is a city that has emerged as a global hub that commands respect and attention.

Nowhere is that more evident that at Yonge and Bloor. Bloor Street was originally the northern perimeter of the fledging pioneer town. Now, it is a major shopping avenue with flagship stores for global brands. It is Toronto’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue and London’s Bond Street. Yonge Street is the longest street in the world, according to Guinness World Records. Starting at the edge of Lake Ontario, it began as the spine of the new city in the 18th century, adding shops and businesses along its edge as the economy thrived.  At the midtown intersection of two streets, Toronto seems to fully inhabit its delightful personality, a mix of enterprise, energy, leisure and culture.

The intersection is a point of transformation, where the city takes on an affluent uptown sensibility with great shopping for luxury retail brands, popular outdoor cafes and pedestrian-friendly streets. Since 2002, thousands of residential units have been created in the Bloor-Yorkville area, reflecting the fact that this is where people want to live.

It goes without saying that this is a high density part of the city and a major shopping destination. That fact demanded thoughtful solutions.

Mizrahi Developments and Foster + Partners worked diligently to create public spaces at the base of the tower as well as in 6-storey podium of retail, restaurant and boutique hotel floors. We wanted a sense of breathing space and leisure at the busiest pedestrian intersection in the country.

The One is stepped back from the edge of both Yonge Street and Bloor Street, creating a wide, plaza-like, space for benches, public art and greenery. Sidewalks are 30 feet in width. The tower meets the ground in a sheer curtain of glass, a poetic feature of structural genius for the tallest building in Canada.  The public podium, six floors with 18 ft ceilings, comprised of retail stores, restaurants with international cuisine and a boutique hotel, is a beautiful glass structure that allows interaction with the street. It is transparent, encased in shimmering trusses; a jewel box filled with life and interests.  This design feature purposefully lightens the density of intersection, exposing its energy and activity as a celebration of the city’s vitality.  It makes everyone feel part of the city, connected to one another, because the life inside the podium and the one on the street are in dialogue.