Rethinking the multi-use complex for King High Line in Toronto

First Capital Realty

Year Completed

2021

Client

First Capital Realty

Location

Toronto, ON

Size

1,203,500 SF

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An urban shopping complex

Once an interstitial area of railway tracks and industrial buildings, Liberty Village has created a bustling urban identity for itself over the last two decades. However, it was short on retail diversity and required more public amenities, including access to nature, city views and reasons for people to come and linger in the area.

When First Capital envisioned the King High Line mixed-use complex, they asked us to tailor their concept for an urban environment, while creating a natural relationship between the people and the buildings to maximize the location's potential.

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Situated on the triangular, sloped site between King Street West to the south and a railway line to the north, this unique site presented both challenges and opportunities. The sloped site made connecting retail to street grade a challenge, while the rail corridor frontage limited the prospect of having active frontage on three sides. Also, the site required numerous loading facilities due to it’s large format retail nature, something difficult to achieve within an urban context. First Capital also wanted to ensure connectivity to the urban fabric of Liberty Village to capitalize on increasing levels of foot traffic and the existing feeling of the area.

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Finding the spaces 'in-between'

We considered the ‘in-between’, ensuring that the public realm was developed from underutilized urban spaces. To inspire our thinking, we explored how shoppers might discover retail, and how pedestrians might interact at ground level. Our team worked tirelessly to find common ground with a variety of stakeholders, such as leasing and municipal partners, as well as championing the vision of the design architect for the residential components. This required regular collaboration to synthesize the design for the retail complex below.

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The multi-use complex reimagined

We created a dynamic link that connected the retail and residential components to the neighbourhood by focusing on the human experience with both the constructed and natural landscape. After all, we wanted to add more than just the density of 506 residential rental units, and more than just a range of retail options — we wanted to stimulate experiential diversity. We created places to meet and to be alone in the city, encouraging walking, cycling and meandering. By accommodating the loading below grade, it didn’t interfere with the active streetscape we created. At street level, we also incorporated an urban scale art piece, celebrating the diverse community of the neighborhood.

Getting the right flow between residential and retail was the goal, accommodating many aspects of life from daycare to grocery shopping and outdoor space ― creating a neighbourhood of its own and a sense of place.

The King Highline Bridge connects the High Line to Liberty Village. With the views along the rail corridor likened to the experience along an urban river, the path offers residents and visitors a place to cycle, walk, or just sit and contemplate the panorama of the city — all while being surrounded by native plants along the entirety of the multi-use path. The experience creates a sense of community and a connection with the urban landscape.

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An active sense of place

PROJECT INSIGHT

We’re very proud of how this project has delivered much needed amenities and an active sense of place, supporting the growth of a healthy community.

JP Thornton

Principal

First Capital has successfully created a mixed-use development that also accommodates large-format retail tenants. The project has created a destination for the people of Liberty Village and provides much needed amenity space for the neighbourhood.

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