Working with ArchitectsAlliance, Brown + Storey Architects Inc. made key contributions to the now-completed Bloor Street Transformation, a partnership between the Bloor-Yorkville BIA and the City of Toronto to revitalize and improve the pedestrian realm of the signature retail avenue located between Yonge Street and Avenue Road.
New tree plantings, widened sidewalks, and lay-bys were the starting point for the re-imagining of Bloor Street. Elegantly detailed granite sidewalks create a ground plane of materiality, depth and surface richness. Parallel tree lines and a five-metre planting-grid maximize tree-planting opportunities. Rhythmic tree lines and a curved, interwoven geometry of planting creates surface “weaves” that move along the space available to pedestrians. These are marked in many ways, as surfaces, patterns and volumes that create a range of spaces, programme possibilities, art sites, flush and raised landscapes that exist below a series of parallel tree arrangements.
Accommodating trees in both large planters and grated tree pits allows the sidewalk widths to expand and contract. Retailers are encouraged to appropriate horticultural sites and develop signature planting schemes to create richness and diversity throughout the year.
Urban-scaled elements that negotiate between the traditional realms of the automobile and the pedestrian are located adjacent to lay-bys, and provide both shelter and vertical continuity in areas that cannot accommodate trees. Custom lighting, traffic signage, retail displays, waste receptacles, etc. extends design excellence to the detail level of street furniture.
The major intersections of Yonge, Bay and Avenue Roads are individually marked in a manner commensurate with their respective civic importance. An ambitious and comprehensive public art programme will be developed for the street. Owners of significant open spaces along the street (The Bay, ManuLife, The Colonnade, etc.) will be encouraged to extend the streetscape into their property.
The design synthesizes the new nature of trees and planting with the technological devices of the 21st century city to create a vibrant commercial street calibrated to the needs and movement of pedestrians. Liberated from the conventions and orthogonal constraints of traditional streetscapes, Bloor Street brands itself by looking to the future as well as the past; through this redesign it has established itself as one of the most daring and exciting streets in the world.