Studio Gang to design its first building in Canada at Yonge + St. Clair

Studio Gang's Aqua Tower in Chicago. Photo: Steve Hall.
Studio Gang’s Aqua Tower in Chicago. Photo: Steve Hall.

Slate Asset Management has announced that it has selected architecture practice Studio Gang to design a mixed-used tower at the south-west corner of Yonge and Delisle. The project will be Studio Gang’s first building in Canada, and is part of Slate’s overall effort to reimagine Yonge + St. Clair through the use of public art, world-class design, vibrant streetscapes and open spaces.

“Yonge + St. Clair is on its way back. Having occasion to bring Studio Gang’s first project in Toronto to the neighbourhood signals to the rest of the city that we would like to create something special here,” says Brandon Donnelly, Vice President of Development at Slate Asset Management.

The announcement comes just as Studio Gang Founding Principal, Jeanne Gang, is set to receive a 2017 Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) in May. The Honorary Fellowship is the latest in a series of accolades for Gang including a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship and the Architectural Review’s 2016 Architect of the Year.

“As our practice’s relationship with Canada grows, we’re excited to explore Toronto and to understand the unique DNA of the Yonge + St. Clair neighbourhood,” says Jeanne Gang. “We hope to design a building that will strengthen relationships within the neighbourhood and the city.”

Based in Chicago and New York, Studio Gang is widely recognized for elevating the urban environment while building connections between people and their environments. This ethos is visible throughout Studio Gang’s diverse portfolio, which includes Aqua Tower in Chicago, Folsom Tower in San Francisco, and 40 Tenth Avenue along the Highline in New York—each of which emphasizes connections between people, the city, and nature.

With a practice rooted in research, engagement, sustainability and the innovative use of materials, Studio Gang will work with Slate to host a public consultation later this spring to gather community input prior to a design submission to the city. The final building will be primarily rental, with retail space at grade, in keeping with Slate’s long-term vision for the area. And while the design for the building is not finalized, Donnelly says a couple of decisions have already been made.

“It’s not going to be a typical all-glass tower,” says Donnelly, citing a need to introduce material variety into Toronto’s ever-booming skyline. “We want to push boundaries in terms of sustainability and building efficiency, which means we are thinking carefully about the building envelope and its materials.”

The decision to commission Studio Gang was made after an exhaustive selection process emphasizing design methodology, site context, and Slate’s aspirations for world-class architecture and a fresh vision. Yonge + St. Clair is a transit-rich node with a subway and dedicated streetcar tracks. At the same time, the dense urban realm is a short walk from some of the city’s most beloved neighbourhoods and a ravine system, offering direct access to quiet green space. This juxtaposition of natural and built environments will serve as an inspiration for the project.

“There is a hill that crests at Yonge + St. Clair, which means the build site acts as both a pedestal and a view terminus from way uptown,” says Donnelly, detailing another unique advantage of both the site and the neighbourhood. “The challenge will be to develop a building worthy of being showcased, but we feel confident that we have the right team in place to do just that.”

Over the last four years, Slate has purchased ten properties in the area, including all four corners of the intersection at Yonge and St. Clair. The Studio Gang commission will be the first ground-up tower in the area by Slate, marking a unique collaboration that combines global experience and high design with a serious investment in the neighbourhood. The area’s transformation kicked-off last summer with the introduction of an eight-story mural by Phlegm.

Gang is being honoured at the RAIC/OAA Festival of Architecture in Ottawa, May 24–27. She will be named an Honorary Fellow of the College of Fellows of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and will deliver the keynote address at the festival.