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