FERNBANK FRENCH CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL (5315 ABBOTT ST & 5618 HAZELDEAN RD) | Formal Review | Zoning By-Law Amendment & Site Plan Control Application | Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est; Edward J. Cuhaci and Associates Architects Inc.; Paquette Planning Associates Ltd.; James Lennox and Associates Inc.
- The Panel appreciates the applicant's responsiveness to the earlier comments and complimented the architect on the sophisticated building design, the playful elevations, the use of colour, and the isometric rendering of the central atrium space.
- South Elevation
- The Panel recommends reconsidering some of the elements of the south facade around the main entrance and the south-east corner. The atrium space should read as the main feature of the front facade, rather than the art room at the corner.
- Possible solutions to strengthening the prominence of the atrium include:
- Projecting the atrium feature beyond the adjoining south facade, rather than behind the plane of the adjacent exit stair as at present.
- Removing the similar, competing wood accent frame from around the art room, and focusing on the coloured glass alone to accent the corner space.
- Modifying the wood accent frame above the main entrance, either by fully enclosing the "C-shaped" frame around the atrium or, particularly, by extending the frame down to grade as an inverted "U" shape.
- The colourful accents are very good in the building. However, the western half of the south elevation appears slightly subdued in comparison. Explore opportunities to enliven the facade with spandrel panels or other accents.
- The north entrance façade reads strongly but the hard landscape approach is too weak, considering the number of students that will be moving between it and the bus loop / drop off (especially in the future when the bus access is relocated). The Panel recommends strengthening the connecting pathway by widening and possibly lining it with a double row of trees.
- Consider reconfiguring the two classrooms west of the north entrance, to widen the corridor inside the building. It will probably be used as the building's main entrance, given its proximity to the bus drop-off point and as exit to the playing fields.
- The Panel also recommends increasing the paved collection space outside the north entrance.
- The Panel recommends re-examining the smaller patches of green space / grass, which come across as too fragmented and are unlikely to survive. Investigate opportunities to consolidate them.
- The landscaping strategy proposing to create outside rooms is an intriguing part of the scheme. Consider carrying the prairie-type landscaping towards the other two entrances so as to help establish a consistent vocabulary across the site.
- The landscape response to the lowered garbage area will be critical. This needs to be screened as much as possible.
- The site plan treatment around the main entrance to the building has been greatly improved since the last presentation, with the relocation of the vehicle drop-off zone and the accessible parking spaces.
- The Panel still had considerable site plan concerns, however, with the likely desire lines for students moving between the bus drop-off and the north and west entrances. Improving the connections between them is therefore recommended.
- The Panel reiterated its concern for probable conflicts in the parking lot between cars and buses. A segregated bus driveway along the west edge of the site was recommended, to connect Abbott Street and the bus drop-off loop. This could possibly be achieved by shifting the parking lot to the east.
1560 SCOTT STREET | Formal Review | Zoning By-Law Amendment & Site Plan Control Application | Holland Cross; Colonnade Development; FOTENN Planning and Urban Design; N45 Architecture Inc.
- The Panel still had significant issues regarding the proposal's massing, handling of the pedestrian walkway, and relationship with neighbouring properties, as were raised in the project's pre-consultation presentation.
- The scheme still requires major changes before it should be permitted to move forward and Panel comments are, therefore, largely limited to the broader issues. Only once these issues have been resolved can the finer details of the proposal be examined.
- The Panel recommends that staff encourage the proponent to return for another formal review with the UDRP. It also indicated it would be willing to host a working session with the applicant to explore various possibilities for reconfiguring the proposal.
- The Panel expressed concern with the impact of the proposed building and colonnade design on the existing pedestrian walkway, and the uncomfortable proximity of the massing to the townhouses to the south, to which it is now even closer than in the earlier presentation.
- It was strongly recommended that the proponent shift the massing north to avoid cantilevering the building over the walkway. The existing column spacing should not be used as an argument for the proposed massing, as a new structural grid will likely have to be built regardless.
- The proposed colonnade on the south façade is undersized both in height and width. A two storey podium with a two storey, masonry colonnade was recommended, including along Hamilton Avenue, as required in the Scott Street Community Design Plan.
- Explore ways of improving the relationship between the building and the townhouses and strengthening the pedestrian connection. Options to achieve this may include:
- Shifting the building north and cantilevering over the loading area.
- Creating a smaller core-to-glass dimension on the south façade, and elongating the building to the west by building the grid over the existing parking garage. This will increase the length by 25 to 30 feet and provide flexibility in terms of how the desired square footage is achieved.
- Creating a narrower building by offsetting the core to the north to allow for a thinner building and stretching it out in order to not lose GFA.
- Breaking the mass / stepping back into a taller north 'box' and a shorter south 'box' and integrating the penthouse into the lower block.
- Cantilevering the washrooms over the garage loading dock.
- The Panel noted that there is an opportunity to create a better interior office environment as well as a better relationship to the neighbourhood.
- Elevations need to show the proposed scale in relation to the surrounding context, including the townhouses to the south.
The treatment of the east-west pedestrian connection is a critical component in the project, and the Panel noted that its current treatment is unacceptable, especially with regards to the tightness of the colonnade.
- Consider requesting a variance to move the parking garage ramp to the property line, so that pedestrian pathways may be widened.
- There will be more pedestrian movement along adjacent streets with increasing development in the area. In the proposal, however, Bullman Street would continue to be terminated by very wide, exposed loading docks. Consider, therefore, extending the colonnade wall as a screen across the loading dock entrance.
- Explore the possibility of including doors to the stores along the south façade, underneath the colonnade and possibly even on Hamilton Avenue, accessed by ramp.
- The alcoves that the building and parking ramps create will read more as dead ends. The visual connection between Hamilton Avenue and Holland Avenue needs to be strengthened.
- The Panel is pleased with the curtain wall direction taken in the building design, but encourages the proponent to explore the use of metal panels as opposed to spandrel glass. The panels could also use a warmer colour such as "champagne."
- The Panel recommends that the City consider introducing a double row of trees along Hamilton Avenue.