Award-winning architecture firm Studio JCI recently completed Hill & Dale, a 75,000-square-foot mixed-use development at the corner of Yonge and Roxborough Street in Toronto’s prestigious Rosedale neighbourhood. The eye-catching project accommodates retail, offices and residences, transforming a nondescript three-storey office block into a dynamic new six-storey building. Hill & Dale not only reflects a global trend in the design and construction industry, which favours working with existing structures as opposed to building new, but it also takes a highly creative approach to City of Toronto’s mid-rise guidelines, opting for a form that is far more varied than many of the cookie-cutter mid-rise developments in the city.
Located steps away from the Rosedale subway station, the site demanded intensification while still maintaining the intimate scale of storefronts and cafés along this stretch of Yonge Street. Indeed, the resulting design is highly sensitive to its surroundings. Along the primary street frontage, the façade’s rhythmic form of projecting bays breaks up the block, echoing Yonge Street’s fine-grained storefronts. Originally, the existing building was set 20 feet back from the sidewalk, but the renovation pulled its threshold forward to be in line with adjacent storefronts, effectively re-engaging and enlivening the pedestrian experience.
To welcome the building’s inhabitants of office tenants, café patrons and retail shoppers, an entry forecourt takes the form of a warmly-lit urban room with striking black granite piers, light limestone paving, and a wood soffit frame. This public space sits at the street corner under a dramatic cantilevered glass and steel volume, while the glass-clad bays facing the street provide a canvas that reflects the surrounding context and dramatic patterns of cloud and sky.
From a structural standpoint, the building uses elements of the existing steel skeleton, taking advantage of larger span capabilities of steel as opposed to more conventional concrete. In addition to the cantilevered volume over the entry, the fourth-floor ingeniously acts as a giant truss suspending the third floor of offices over a column free double-height retail space designed for the requirements of a major retail chain.
Despite the increased density of Hill & Dale, the building does not impose upon neighbouring Rosedale’s largely low-rise, residential fabric. Its fourteen unique residential units make up the top three floors, accessed from a discreet entrance along the secondary street frontage. These floors are set back for yet another layer of privacy, yet their expansive terraces with panoramic views of the downtown skyline remain uncompromised. To cap off the innovative structure, stunning penthouse suites each have private stairs that access rooftop terraces and sweeping 360-degree views. These terraces boast frameless glass railings, a final design flourish that allows residents to experience the feeling of floating just above the lush tree canopy of the stunning surrounding neighbourhood.