The redux of Yorkville Village in Toronto
Once the destination for Torontonians seeking designer labels like Hermes, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent, Hazelton Lanes shopping complex had struggled since the early '90s to maintain its former glamour. In spite of its well-appointed Yorkville address, the property had languished with uneven tenancies and a palimpsest of dated renovations. Fast forward to 2011: commercial developer First Capital purchased the property with the intent of reviving the prestigious address with a contemporary update worthy of its iconic past.
When First Capital first engaged us, they were looking for a simple refresh to update their 1970s, village-style design and brown-brick structure. However, during our initial visioning and design workshops, we demonstrated that an entire re-think would be required. From improving interior circulation to attracting sidewalk traffic, significant layout and frontage changes would be needed to improve the space for both tenants and shoppers. Through numerous stakeholder consultations, we collected feedback that would inform an intricately phased design and planning process.
The approach was to redux, reimagine and renew. Many challenges from this 40-year-old building presented themselves, including hidden issues from previous renovations, inaccurate original drawings and a tight urban site. During demolition, extra safety and security measures would need to be taken. A phased plan would be required for retailers to remain open, with minimal disruption to commercial businesses and residential tenants living in the condominiums above the mall.
With its many steps to the entrance and inward-looking design, there was little intuitive connection from street level to the retail spaces inside. Leaving the stairs, escalators, and elevators inside the mall, we created a contemporary façade and brought retail frontage out to the sidewalk, allowing passersby an easier entry and welcoming foot traffic.
Taking historical cues from the original design, our team designed a sky-lit atrium, reminiscent of the outdoor ice rink that occupied the space until the 1990s. Instead of a rectangular geometry to enclose the former ice rink, we designed a borderless, oval-shaped dome. The new atrium is a focal point bathed in light, where shoppers can take a break and linger. In addition to creating intuitive way-finding with a connection to retail space, it provides a community setting for art exhibits, children’s performances, charity drives, and other events.
The redevelopment has brought clarity to the former interior design, attracting brand name clients like Equinox Fitness that will ensure the long-term success of the new development. Store sizes were increased to reflect contemporary retail design, making them more rentable and more profitable. The project established a stronger street presence with new retail frontage along Avenue Road and Yorkville Avenue, connecting the shopping centre to the Yorkville neighbourhood and increasing overall foot traffic to the location.
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