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River City Phase 1 & 2 River City – Phase 1 & 2 (2015)

21 Mar 2017
Image Credit: Jose Uribe
Architectural Credit: Saucier + Perrotte Architectes / ZAS Architects Inc., in joint venture
Location: Toronto, Ontario 
Date of Completion: 2015

OAA Awards 2017 Design Excellence Finalist 

Representing the first residential neighborhood within Toronto’s West Don Lands, River City stands as a striking marriage of sleek aesthetics and sustainable design. It brings a unique and bold response to a brownfield, post-industrial site that stretches along the Don River.  

River City Phase 1 & 2 occupies a long rectangular site bounded, on the north by King Street East, on the south by Underpass Park, and is adjacent to Waterfront Toronto’s new Corktown Common Park as it extends along the Don River.
Diagram Credit: Saucier + Perrotte Architectes / ZAS Architects Inc., in joint venture 

Comprised of four city blocks, this new neighbourhood will ultimately create 1000 residential units in what has become a green and sustainable community. It is a reconstructed neighbourhood where pedestrian friendly streets, exceptional parks and public spaces are linked with an architecture inspired by flow, movement and continuity. It’s not uncommon to hear references to River City Phase 1 & 2 as the most unique and most diverse multiunit residential architecture in Toronto.

East Elevation
Photo Credit: Jose Uribe

The new residential units comprise of townhouses, lofts, and condominium units in buildings ranging from five storey and upwards. River City Phase 1 is a darkly beautiful structure with a modern sensibility, and a nod to the industrial nature of the area’s past. As a dramatic contrast to the edgy, dark exteriors of Phase 1, the sleek white design of Phase 2 stands as a luminescent jewel against the industrial feel of the buildings surrounding it.

View of Phase 1, Lower River Street building with lightbox amenities space facing the Richmond Adelaide ramps.
Photo Credit: Jose Uribe

The expanses of smoke tinted glass in dark aluminum frames, the balanced opacity and transparency of the facades, the hard geometry of the buildings—all help ease River City into its expressway bound neighbourhood, and give it aesthetic unity. Spanning from King Street East to Corktown Common Park, and from the Don River to River Street, this project represents the first two stages of the carefully planned West Don Lands neighbourhood and waterfront redevelopment initiative. 

Merging the matte black design of Phase 1 with the cantilevered white boxes of Phase 2, the randomly stacked cubes liberates Toronto  condominium design from its usual constraints.
Photo Credit: Jose Uribe

At the vanguard of society’s response to the climate change phenomenon, River City is one of Toronto’s first LEED Gold, carbon neutral residential developments. In designing this development significant steps have been taken to reduce the “carbon footprint” from its inception, including reducing as much as possible what it takes to build our buildings and creating a healthy living environment within them. As it is today impossible to fully eliminate carbon generation in constructing or living in any building, the aim was to “offset” any remaining impacts so that in the end this development is carbon neutral.

Interior and view from west facing balcony of Phase 2 condominium unit.
Photo Credit: Jose Uribe 

River City is the result of this international developer/design process. This project represents Waterfront Toronto’s first venture into the sale of publicly owned lands for private sector development, and unlike many condominium developments in Toronto, River City is not an investor driven project. Rather, it was developed to appeal owners and families to occupy their purchased units. This was accomplished by the creation of uniquely designed and wholly individual residences. 

River City shows that even massive urban housing schemes can celebrate and express the individuality everyone needs. Lush greenery will ultimately surround a contemporary design that blends light with dark, glass with metal, hard edges with gentle angles.
Photo Credit: Jose Uribe 

River City’s buildings are expressions of architectural variety within a framework of sober sided city planning. The midsized profile of the structures strikes the right scale in a district of warehouses and factories. This project is one that has prodded other developers to raise the level of residential design in the local neighbourhood and the City as a whole.


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September 28, 2017 13:55 by Anonymous
Fabulous buildings...but where are the trees?

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April 23, 2017 11:40 by Anonymous
Should be discouraged - not celebrated . The city needs less of this silly stuff.

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April 21, 2017 18:02 by Anonymous
Looks amazing

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