Gwerk Exhibition Space, Vancouver, March 2014
Westbank is dedicated to creating projects that are more than just buildings – rather, we see our projects as opportunities to shape the evolution of the entire city. With Mirvish Village we seek to redefine what can be achieved—and what should increasingly be expected—for large-scale mixed-use projects.
There are moments in the arc of any city’s history that play pivotal roles in shaping its physical form and character and ultimately, its success as a place to live. Over two centuries these moments have combined to shape Toronto as we know it today: diverse, thriving, creative, tolerant and vital. Westbank was attracted to Toronto because of the rich layers of its previous city-building, and we have been inspired to shape a project worthy of this legacy.
After a year of engaging neighbourhood residents, the local business community and hundreds of other stakeholders in conversations about their aspirations and concerns, as well as about the opportunities inherent in such a unique site, we have produced a vision for a comprehensive community with purpose-designed rental housing at its heart. Our proposal is unlike any other recent Toronto development because the ideas and values that shape it are different.
Mirvish Village is conceived as a designed-from-the-inside-out rental community, one that will eventually be home to over 2000 Torontonians. Some apartments will be available at below-market rents and almost half will be designed for families. Instead of generic retail space, the Village will be anchored by a true market hall and large live music venue – both future neighbourhood institutions.
Instead of architecture that is monolithic, Mirvish Village will be an innovative collection of smaller buildings with a fine grain character and generous public spaces that put pedestrians and community interaction first. Instead of the token retention of façades, we will conserve most of the Victorian homes on Markham Street, renewing them as key portions of a vital and diverse residential/retail community. Similarly, rather than superficial nods towards sustainability, we have collaborated with Creative Energy, our recently acquired district energy business, on a strategy that will see Mirvish Village exceed the highest building performance targets and increase the resiliency of Toronto’s electrical grid by incorporating a district energy node with on-site electricity generation.
What we are striving for at Mirvish Village is to create a pivotal moment in Toronto’s history: a needed conversation about how large development proposals can be less fixated on what is merely required, and more inspired by the enormous potential they represent.