1545 Bank street | Formal Review | Site Plan Application | Novatech Engineering; S.J. Lawrence Architect Inc.
• The Panel appreciates the changes that the applicant has made in response to the first UDRP session, and finds that the changes have improved the building. The Panel is generally supportive of the direction and encourages the applicant to follow the suggested refinements described in the recommendations.
• The Panel congratulates the applicant on coming forward with an appropriately-scaled, midrise development in this evolving area of the City. This building will begin to set a positive scale and standard for other developments along the street.
• Explore ways to further simplify the design. The many elements to the design create visual confusion and raise some practicality issues. Atypical building design features, angles, placements, etc. will likely increase maintenance costs for people invested in the building. For example, custom repairs may be more complex, non-uniform parts used in the construction may be more costly, and regular maintenance may require more time or be more difficult.
• Reduce the number of acute angles on the project. These angles may hinder views looking-out of the building. Furthermore, if the angles are not designed, monitored and tended to with more care (than is normally necessary for more conventional designs), they may cause issues with thermal bridging and more speedy material degradation.
• For such a visually complex building, attention to the detail is of the utmost importance as the plans get finalized. Ensure that design treatments involved in the development of sills, brick and stone detailing, coursing, head heights and windows are given proper attention.
• Explore the option of bringing the “logo” street number, which is currently proposed at the top of the building, down to the third level cornice. Having the number relocated to this podium level will make the number more visible. In addition, if the number is carefully designed as a three dimensional element and well integrated with the cornice it can also add character to the entrance. The Panel supports the use of this street number being incorporated into the design because very few buildings in this area have clear identifiers and it will help commuters orient themselves in the area.
• For future reference, 1:50 scale drawings (elevations), particularly for the first three-storeys, are useful to provide because they give the Panel a more comprehensive understanding of the detail in the proposal.
Balconies and Cornices
• Reduce the variation of design and the “clip-on” character of the balconies to create a more straight-forward design. The indentations and balconies may create uncomfortable or dysfunctional spaces.
• The Panel supports the way that the lower balconies are framed by masonry and recessed and believes that this helps create a stronger base for the building. The Panel suggests using non-projecting balconies, handled in a similar way, throughout the building.
• The cornices appear quite heavy at the 6th and 8th floors, thereby subduing the strength of the stepped massing. Reducing or even eliminating some of these upper level cornices would be more sympathetic to the desired effect of the stepped massing and the central, vertical forms.
• Removal of the intermediate, discontinuous cornices above the first floor would also help simplify the building and emphasize the 3rd floor podium.
• Ensure that the street trees proposed have the necessary infrastructure and space to allow them to survive and flourish. The trees should be planted in real soil (not structured) and be given enough space. The current Bank Street edge does not have a condition that would facilitate this kind of healthy tree growth; therefore, some adjustments may need to be made to the street. Removal of the bus lay-by, as mentioned, would help to improve conditions for street tree growth.
• Explore creative ways to provide an urban canopy by using a species of tree which provides adequate shade along the street. The proposed columnar maple will contribute little to the quality of the streetscape and should be substituted for an equally urban tolerant street tree.