Urban Design

Downtown Tall Buildings Project

Downtown Toronto is characterized by tall buildings. As it grows and evolves, tall buildings continue to accommodate people and jobs drawn to the City's downtown core. The objective of the Tall Buildings Downtown Project was to create a vision for tall buildings to identify which downtown streets tall buildings should be located on and the height ranges and built form typologies that these tall buildings should adhere to in order to enhance the pedestrian environment; minimize shadowing of sidewalks, parks and public squares; protect landmark views and heritage resources and improve the quality of life (access to natural light, sky views and privacy) for people living and working downtown. Together, this "vision" and its accompanying design guidelines (also referred to as performance standards) are intended to add a finer grain of detail to the review of tall building applications in the Downtown.

As part of the Downtown Tall Buildings Project, "Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards" were adopted by City Council in July of 2012. A parallel project that began in 2006 to establish city-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines outside the Downtown was adopted by Council in May of 2013. These May 2013 city-wide guidelines have now substantially integrated and consolidated the July 2012 Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards.

What remains outside the May 2013 consolidation of the two guideline documents noted above, is the Downtown Vision and a set of Supplementary Design Guidelines that are intended to only be used in the evaluation of tall building proposals falling within the Supplementary Design Guideline area boundary.

The Downtown Vision, its associated mapping and tables and the supplementary set of design guidelines intended only for the Downtown area, are gathered in a consolidated document – named the “Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines”. The Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines include a vision statement for downtown tall buildings; mapping which identifies heights and building typologies along “High Streets” and "Secondary Height Streets" and seven Supplementary Design Guidelines relating either to the base conditions or the tower portion of tall buildings or to their contextual fit.

The Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines should be used together with the city-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines to evaluate all new and current tall building proposals located within the Downtown guideline area boundary.

The area subject to the Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines encompasses parts of Wards 20, 27 and 28 and is bounded by Bathurst Street on the west, the rail corridor north of Dupont Street on the north, the Don Valley Parkway on the east and the Toronto Harbour on the south. Secondary Plan Areas falling within this area boundary are excluded from the Supplementary Guideline requirements and continue to only be guided by the city-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines.

Housekeeping Edits

In an ongoing effort to identify and correct non-substantive errors found in the May 2013 Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines, the following minor edits has been made:

Table Five – Canyon Form, Base Building Heights – Street Segments (page 31):

Change: The eastern limit of the segment description of King Street has been changed from Church Street to the west side of Toronto Street/Leader Lane.

Reason: Council decision July 11, 2012 amended the boundary limit. Map 3- High Streets Typologies Map is correct. Table Five has been corrected accordingly.

In 2003, City Planning commissioned a consultant’s study entitled “Design Criteria for the Review of Tall Building Proposals”. City Council adopted the resulting report and city-wide tall building guidelines in 2006. These guidelines underwent a period of testing, stakeholder consultation and revision. They were adopted in their final form by Council in May of 2013.

Subsequent to the 2006 release of the "Design Criteria for Review of Tall Buildings Proposals", City Planning Division also undertook a comprehensive tall buildings visioning, mapping and 3D modelling exercise specifically reviewing the Downtown area. The purpose was to identify appropriate areas for intensified growth and sites where tall buildings should be permitted. In 2007, Council provided funding for a consultant’s study focusing on “Intensification and Tall Building Location Analysis” for the Downtown. The City issued an RFP and selected planning firm Urban Strategies Inc. to complete this Study. A draft Study document was submitted to City Planning staff in the Summer of 2009. Additional work followed, and the final Consultant's Study document, "Tall Buildings, Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto" was submitted to the City in April of 2010.

The City Planning Division, in association with Urban Strategies Inc., held community meetings in April of 2011 in each of the wards affected by the Project area, (namely Wards 20, 27 and 28), to introduce the vision and objectives of the Tall Buildings Downtown Project and the findings and recommendations of the resulting Study document. Meetings also took place with professional and industry based associations engaged in the City's development approval process

View “Living Up to It: Tall Buildings, Inviting Change in Downtown Toronto” produced by Leslieville Productions in cooperation with Urban Strategies Inc. and City Planning which provides an overview of the Tall Buildings Downtown Project and Consultant’s Study. (7.38 minutes).

View the Final Consultants’ Study - Full document.

You can also view each Chapter of the Study:

View Key Maps:

View the Appendices:

 

Community Consultation (2011)

View the Summary of Questions/Comments Received during & after the Downtown Tall Buildings Project Consultation Meetings
 

Post Consultation Outcomes (2012)

City Planning Division staff worked closely and collaboratively with the Consultant during the multi-year Downtown Tall Buildings Project process. At the conclusion of the process, City Planning Division produced a document entitled  "Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards Design Guideline" which accompanied City Planning's final report to Council and which was approved in July of 2012. As noted previously, this 2012 guideline has now been replaced by the May 2013 Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines.

Chronology of City Planning Reports Related to the Downtown Tall Buildings Project


Staff Reports Considered by the Toronto and East York Community Council - February 2012

City Planning had a report before Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) at its meeting on February 14, 2012 under Item TE13.16

Staff Report and Attachments Nos. 1 to 4: Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Consultant's Study, Public Consultation and Implementation
Attachments Nos. 5 to 9: Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards Design Guideline
On February 14, 2012 the Toronto and East York District Toronto and East York Community Council referred the staff report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Consultant's Study, Public Consultation and Implementation - back to the Director, Community Planning, Toronto and East York District with a request that consultation take place with the affected Councillors with respect to the recommendations of the consultant contained in the report under the heading "Height Incentives Related to Provision of Community Benefits in Downtown Toronto" and that the Director report back to the TEYCC.

For further details, please review the Decision of the February 14, 2012 Toronto and East York Community Council.

Staff Reports Considered by the Toronto and East York Community Council - June 2012

Upon further consultation with the affected Councillors, the public and City staff, a referred report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Outcome of Further Consultation with Councillors Regarding the City's Height Incentives Policy and its Relationship to this Project from the Director, Community Planning, Toronto and East York District was before the June 13, 2012 TEYCC under item TE17.19 (found under item 19a located within the purple tab at the bottom of the screen)

A further supplementary report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Supplementary Report from the Director, Community Planning Toronto and East York District and the Director, Urban Design, was also before the June 13, 2012 TEYCC. This report recommended minor changes to the staff report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Consultant's Study, Public Consultation and Implementation, in response to some of the concerns identified by local Councillors regarding matters contained in this original staff report. The supplementary report can be found under item TE17.19b located within the purple tab at the bottom of the screen.

Finally, a report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Outcome of Further Consultation with BILD (Toronto Chapter) from the Director, Community Planning Toronto and East York District and the Director, Urban Design, responding to outcomes of recent staff consultation with the Toronto Chapter of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) regarding the staff report entitled Downtown Tall Buildings Project - Consultant's Study, Public Consultation and Implementation, dated January 27, 2012, was on the June 13, 2012 TEYCC Agenda. The report can be found under item TE17.19c.

The Downtown Tall Buildings Project item was considered by Toronto and East York Community Council on June 13, 2012. TEYCC adopted the recommendations contained in the three reports related to this item, referenced above. For further details, please review the Decision of the June 13, 2012 Toronto and East York Community Council.

Staff Reports adopted by City Council – July 2012

The Downtown Tall Buildings Project item was then considered by City Council on July 11, 2012. The Acting Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning submitted a supplementary report on this item to Council (TE17.19d with recommendations). The purpose of this supplementary report was to amend the Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards Design Guidelines – Revised Downtown Vision Height Map to remove the height ranges stated on this Map, for the properties generally bound by Bloor Street East to the north, Howard Street to the south, Sherbourne Street to the west and Parliament Street to the east. These properties are the subject of a site specific application to amend the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw. The final report on this application will be submitted to Toronto East York Community Council in 2013 and will address, among other matters, the appropriate heights for this proposal.

On July 11, 2012, Council adopted the entire Downtown Tall Buildings Project Item TE17.19 with amendments. At its meeting on July 11 and 12, 2012, City Council directed staff to use the Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards Design Guidelines in the evaluation of all new and current tall building development proposals falling within the Guideline boundaries.

Staff Reports adopted by City Council – May 2013

On May On May 8, 2013, City Council adopted the city-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines, Item PG23.5 with amendments for use in the evaluation of all new and current tall building development applications across the entire city together with the “Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines” for those applications located within the applicable Downtown area boundary.