771 Yonge Street

Texture at the Sidewalk Climbs to the Balcony

The charged site at the epi­cen­ter of Toronto’s icon­ic Yorkville neigh­bor­hood shapes a design solu­tion that knits the res­i­den­tial tow­er into the grow­ing Yonge Street fab­ric. Just north of the inter­sec­tion of Yonge and Bloor Streets, the site is sur­round­ed by many high-rise office and con­do­mini­um tow­ers that range in scale from six­ty to nine­ty sto­ries, cre­at­ing a dense sky­line with­in which the 25-storey tow­er inserts itself. Most notably, the site aligns per­fect­ly as a ter­mi­nus of Cum­ber­land Ter­race, a sem­i­nal street which we are now re-imag­in­ing as a pedes­tri­an focused urban mod­el. This align­ment cre­ates the oppor­tu­ni­ty for 771 Yonge to be designed as an archi­tec­tur­al gem that could serve as a land­mark for the Yorkville area while bridg­ing the exist­ing two-storey her­itage fab­ric to the new tow­ers along Yonge Street.

Toron­to Ref­er­ence Library’s sig­na­ture pop out win­dows have inspired the design process. Pho­to is cour­tesy of Toron­to Pub­lic Archives.

The site’s impor­tance is also deter­mined by its prox­im­i­ty to the Toron­to Ref­er­ence Library, a Toron­to insti­tu­tion just north of the tow­er at Yonge and Asquith. The library, built in the 1970’s by leg­endary Cana­di­an archi­tect Ray­mond Moriya­ma, is the largest of its kind in Cana­da and has served as a beloved com­mu­ni­ty ameni­ty and learn­ing space for gen­er­a­tions. For the project at 771 Yonge, it pro­vides a rich mason­ry coun­ter­point to the new wrap­ping podi­um along Asquith Avenue, includ­ing the library’s sig­na­ture pop out win­dows, now emu­lat­ed beyond Yonge Street’s exist­ing, his­toric com­mer­cial archi­tec­ture which is now restored and inte­grat­ed at the side­walk to accom­mo­date retail ameni­ties at street lev­el. The tow­er above the her­itage build­ing sets back 10 meters to height­en and frame the pedes­tri­an scaled tex­ture at grade, with a mod­ern lob­by dis­creet­ly locat­ed on Asquith Street.

771 Yonge Street takes a 360-degree approach to address­ing the site con­straints. The façade of the build­ing address­es the bohemi­an roots of Yorkville, once a gath­er­ing place for Toronto’s artists, musi­cians, and activists, with art-deco inspired forms. Organ­ic, round shapes and arch­ways are found through­out the Yorkville streetscape, which is reflect­ed in detail, like the gra­cious arch­way over the Asquith lob­by entrance.

771 Yonge Street
Artic­u­lat­ed met­al pan­el “zip­pers” trans­form the win­dow wall by cre­at­ing dynam­ic geo­met­ric zones.

The set-back base of the tow­er con­tin­ues for 10 sto­ries before the com­po­si­tion shifts back 8‑metres. Pro­ject­ing bal­conies with dec­o­ra­tive fea­tures, as well as artic­u­lat­ed met­al pan­el “zip­pers” that redress the win­dow wall are used to ele­gant­ly absorb the ‘jog’ in façade.

Ulti­mate­ly, 771 Yonge Street knits itself into the diverse and trans­form­ing Yorkville fab­ric, includ­ing the her­itage struc­ture at its base, while at mid­dle and top, each face is embroi­dered with liv­ing bal­conies at var­i­ous depths to address the Rosedale ravine to the east, the new Cum­ber­land Square pub­lic prom­e­nade to the west, and the ter­raced Metro Toron­to Ref­er­ence Library to the north.

Project Facts

  • Client

    Menkes Devel­op­ments Ltd.

  • Location

    Toron­to, Ontario

  • Size

    25 storeys, 202 units

  • Status

    Under Con­struc­tion

  • Sub-Consultant Team

    Her­itage — GBCA Archi­tects

    Plan­ner — Bous­fields Inc.

    Land­scape — NAK Design Group Inc.

    Struc­tur­al — Jablon­sky, Ast and Part­ners Inter­na­tion­al

    Mechanical/ Elec­tri­cal — Able Engi­neer­ing Inc.

    Traf­fic — Lea Con­sult­ing Ltd.

  • General Contractor

    Menkes Devel­op­ments Ltd.

  • Renderings

    Norm Li
    Office In Search Of