Studio JCI completes two new “missing middle” projects

41 River Street – Toronto, ON (Photo credit: Michael Muraz)

Studio JCI has recently completed two new mid-rise, multi-residence projects in Toronto which exemplify their commitment to restoring the “missing middle” in the city while also filling the gap between low-rise and high-rise buildings.

The term “missing middle” refers to the need for housing options that bridge the gap between single-family homes and large apartment buildings; a concept which goes back to 1920. At this time, the City of Toronto experienced a rapid population increase to half a million people, prompting the construction of multi-unit buildings to accommodate the influx of migrants.

Prior to that, in 1912, the implementation of bylaw 6061 restricted the construction of apartment buildings in many residential areas and reserved them exclusively for single-family dwellings. This bylaw significantly hampered the overall housing supply by preventing developers from constructing apartment buildings in large sections of the city.

As a result, Studio JCI aims to expand housing options within residential areas by creating more duplexes and walk-up apartments and the completion of the River Street Infill and Broadview Terraces exemplify these efforts.

“Our recently completed Broadview Terraces and River Street Infill address Toronto’s need for missing middle projects in numerous ways,” said Studio JCI architect Sudipto Sengupta. “The first being: they deliver gentle density to their neighbourhoods. Missing middle homes are denser than detached homes but offer many of the same amenities, such as access to outdoor space and underutilized community services. These low-rise buildings impact established communities very minimally, compared to mid- or high-rise forms.”

“On top of this,” he continued, “by strategically renovating structures – like our Broadview Terraces – we create opportunities to reduce environmental impact by creating low-carbon buildings. This renovation added to the city’s rental stock with a range of unit sizes, encouraging downsizers to stay in their community and inviting growing families in that may have been priced out of the detached market. Having different income brackets diversifies a neighbourhood, attracting a range of businesses and re-invigorating existing communities.”

41 River Street – Toronto, ON (Photo credit: Michael Muraz)

River Street Infill is a five-story building inserted into a modest 680 square meter site, adding 29 market-value rental units to an increasingly densifying neighborhood. The units primarily consist of two-bedroom apartments, appealing to families moving into the area. The fifth floor houses a communal amenity room with WIFI-enabled workspaces for residents who work from home. It also features a common area with comfortable seating and direct access to the rooftop garden, offering panoramic views of Toronto.

In terms of design elements, the continuous red brick facade is adorned with recessed balconies clad in dark metal, along with deep, punched windows featuring custom bent metal sill details. The overall vision comprises three distinct yet cohesive volumes, considering the rhythm of the townhome structures to the north.

At ground level, a combination of dark metal and wood accents creates an appealing contrast, while live/work style units cater to the mixed-use character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Broadview Terraces, another project by Studio JCI, is located near the intersection of Gerrard and Broadview. It combines three distinct addresses into a complex, mixed-use, and technically renovated structure.

377 Broadview Avenue – Toronto, ON (Photo credit: Michael Muraz)

Two former commercial office buildings have been merged to create a total of 11 spacious one-bedroom market-value rental suites, accompanied by two retail spaces on the ground floor. The rear-facing units in these addresses enjoy access to a series of private terraces, offering views of the nearby park and valley.

The third structure, an existing three-story walk-up apartment building, has retained its eight rental residences but is now integrated with its neighbors through a shared façade. Like the other addresses, it also features retail spaces on the ground floor, each serving specific needs.

The shared exterior facing the street showcases a metal screen that allows clear views from the inside while providing privacy from the bustling pedestrian environment outside. The screen also filters light and offers shade from the western sun, benefiting the recessed ground-level retail units. At the junction where the building forms merge, internal and rear courtyards expand the usable space for tenants.

“Our Broadview Terraces and River Street Infill are strategic designs with many special characteristics,” said Sengupta. “Broadview, for instance, is technically a renovation in which three distinct buildings were joined behind a single exterior façade – an intriguing series of perforated sun shields that offer shade and privacy to the units within. There are also stepped terraces at the rear providing private outdoor spaces for most units.”

377 Broadview Avenue – Toronto, ON (Photo credit: Michael Muraz)

Broadview Terraces is constructed primarily with wood and steel, with 50 per cent of the existing structures preserved, minimizing the project’s carbon footprint and circumventing zoning and bylaw restrictions typically imposed on new builds.

This approach enables Studio JCI to gently densify the area quickly and economically, providing market-value rental units for those seeking an immediate home in the neighborhood.

Broadview Terraces seamlessly integrates additional housing and services into the fabric of the community, embodying the essence of modern “missing middle” projects.