2015 Pan Am/Parapan American Games Athletes' Village | Canary District
01 Dec 2012

ARCHITECTS Dundee Kilmer Integrated Design Team: Joint venture of architectsAlliance and Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects in association with Daoust Lestage inc. and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects
LOCATION Toronto, Ontario

Unlike many international athletic games projects, which are purpose-built and then converted to other uses, the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games Athletes’ Village accelerates the build-out of a key site in the redevelopment of Toronto’s West Don Lands. Originally planned for completion in three phases over 12 years, the new 14.3-hectare downtown neighbourhood will be designed and built in less than three years. This new community, part of a broader development initiative for the city’s waterfront, is being undertaken by Infrastructure Ontario and Waterfront Toronto using a Design-Build-Finance procurement process.

Initially, the project will provide a home away from home for more than 10,000 athletes and officials participating in the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. Following the Games, the Village will convert into the Canary District, a sustainable mixed-use neighbourhood for people at all stages of life and income levels, including market and affordable housing, student housing for George Brown College, and a new YMCA community centre.

The site stands at the eastern edge of downtown Toronto on the 32-hectare West Don Lands, bordered by the Don River, King Street East, Parliament Street, and the rail line adjacent to the Gardiner Expressway. Front Street East, one of the city’s major arterials, extends through the site to terminate at the Don River Valley.

The Integrated Design Team developed a suite of core design principles through which to establish a new community with an authentic character built into it. These principles imbue the project with a coherent diversity: individualized expression from building to building within a vibrant, integrated urban fabric. Each building is designed by a different team member according to these principles, which include:

Historic and Contemporary Gateways Architectural gateposts identify the western and eastern entrances into the Village. At the west, the heritage CNR and Canary Restaurant buildings are restored as signifiers of the historic uses of the site. At the east, new residential buildings address Bayview Avenue and the new Don River Park.
Diverse Architectural Typology The massing, scale and height of every building relates to its neighbour, street to street and block to block. Where one façade steps back, the next projects forward; rooflines rise in a rhythmic pattern from the west end of the site to the east.
Pedestrian Scale A strong horizontal expression of stacked volumes reduces the visual impact of buildings at grade. Across the site, a standard ground-floor height of six metres and extensive glazing creates a spacious, permeable ground plane.
Tracing Railways North and south of the principal arterial of Front Street, a secondary system of pedestrian routes traces the former CNR rail lines across the site. Allusions to these vestiges of past uses unearth the genius loci of the site.
Intensification of Green Space The Village’s network of laneways, mews, courtyards and planted terraces--inspired by the site’s history as a parkland and proximity to the Don River Valley--draws green space from the ground plane upward, and from the Park westward through the site.
Connecting with the Distillery District Massing and material connections, including the historic gateway described above, connect the Village with the extraordinary Distillery District heritage site to ensure the urban, economic and social viability of both neighbourhoods.
Animating the Public Realm of Front Street The CNR building is the focal point of a new public plaza that extends the Front Street pedestrian promenade west to Cherry Street. A uniform depth of 60 feet is established for ground-floor retail/commercial spaces along both sides of Front, animating the street and supporting a dynamic retail strategy.
Sustainability: Environmental, Social and Economic The Village is informed by a holistic philosophy of sustainability. Live-work uses are integrated with community athletic facilities, an extensive network of pedestrian walkways, ample public and resident bicycle parking, direct links to the Don River Park, and pathways down Lake Ontario and into the cultural hub of the Distillery District.
The collective massing strategy was orchestrated to escalate the scale and boldness of expression of each building from east to west, maximizing variety in scale and mass, and placing every building in conversation with adjacent and facing blocks. Brick, stone and wood add texture and substance to the ground floors of buildings at the west end of the Village, in response to the fabric of the Distillery District. From west to east, greater amounts of glazing at the ground and upper levels increase to reduce the impact of the massing on the streetscape, and put “eyes on the street.”
The design vision celebrates the best qualities of Canada: open, inclusive and welcoming. In the short term it will give Pan/Parapan American athletes a unique experience of Toronto and Canada. In the long term it will give Toronto another great neighbourhood, in the “City of Neighbourhoods” beloved of Jane Jacobs and the global village of Marshall McLuhan.
DC: The mixed-use, mixed-income makeup in this vision is balanced by a mature determination to build an enriching and disciplined civic fabric--evidenced by the dual dexterity to work at the scale of the street and, ultimately, at the scale of the urban block. The Canary precinct is sophisticated proof (and a quiet rallying cry) that intelligent cities should renew the currency of the well-crafted “block” as the real medium in which we can grow good neighbourhoods.
MCC: The amount and quality of work that was presented was impressive, and a standard of excellence is present everywhere in the project--seen in the public spaces, the streets, the private courtyards, and the architecture and interiors of the buildings. The “eyes on the street” theory of Jane Jacobs has been appropriately employed here, and the result is convincing, from both an individual and collective perspective.
BH: Designing a “pop-up city” for an event such as the Pan Am Games is tough. The city must accommodate a momentary event while offering the much more important long-term pleasures of civitas. The submission used the term “coherent diversity” and suggests a convincing possibility of achieving this objective, and so provides long-term “bread” to nourish civic life before leveraging a “circus” event.

Client Infrastructure Ontario
Developer Dundee Kilmer Developments
RFP Team Peter Clewes, Bruce Kuwabara, Renée Daoust, David Miller, Adam Feldmann, Andrew Dyke, Rachel Stecker, Andrew Filarski, Heather Rolleston, Richard Unterthiner, Emerich Kaspar, Mariela de Felix, Shane Neill, Virginia Fernandez, Mary K. McIntyre, Rogelio Bayaton, Helen Tran, Chris Pfiffner, Irene Chan, Taewook Eum, Gabriel Fain, Sanaz Shirshekar, Anna Sulikowska, Amanda Sebris, Johanna Radix, Catherine St-Marseille, Hala Mehio, Carl Pineau, Stéphane Savoie, Viktors Jaunkalns, Rick Galezowski, Chi Nguyen, Chen Cohen, Patrick Kniss, Jason Wah
Project Team Student Residence (Blocks 1/14)--architectsAlliance: Peter Clewes, Adam Feldmann, Blair Robinson, Emerich Kaspar, Jason LeBlanc, Oliver Laumeyer, Clint Langevin, Mariela de Felix, Evan Saskin, Nicolas Peters. YMCA Community Centre--MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects: David Miller, Viktors Jaunkalns, Andrew Filarski, Chen Cohen, Janouque LeRiche, Afsaneh Tafazzoli. Market Housing (Blocks 4 & 11)--KPMB Architects: Bruce Kuwabara, Luigi Larocca, Andrew Dyke, Irene Chan, Claudio Venier, Chris Pfiffner, Taewook Eum, Joseph Kan, Julie Bogdanowicz, Aiden Loweth, Jose Emila, Ramon Janer. Affordable Housing (Blocks 3/15)--Daoust Lestage inc.: Renée Daoust, Rachel Stecker, Jean-François Bilodeau, Carl Pineau, Catherine St-Marseille, Stéphane Savoie, Marie-Josée Gagnon.
Structural Halsall Associates for Block 11; Adjeleian Allen Rubell Consulting Engineers for Block 4
Mechanical/Electrical/Communications/Security Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers
Civil/Traffic Cole Engineering
Landscape NAK Design Group
Interiors Munge Leung
Contractor/Construction Manager EllisDon Ledcor PAAV
Building Envelope Brook Van Dalen and Associates Limited
Sustainability/Building Envelope Halsall Associates for Block 11
Elevator HH Angus & Associates
Building Code Leber/Rubes Inc.
Environmental Terraprobe Environmental Services
Acoustics Valcoustics Canada Ltd.
Commissioning HFM
Renderings Dundee Kilmer Integrated Design Team
Area 14.29 hectares mixed-use development; 7,700 m2 community centre; 17,500 m2 student residence; 60,400 m2 market housing; 22,400 m2 affordable housing
Budget $514 M
Completion Spring 2015