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Downsview Park: Stanley Greene Neighborhood

Downsview Park, Toronto, CA

Background

For more than a decade, Canada has been growing at the rate of roughly half a million people per year. As Canada’s largest and most economically vibrant city, Toronto has been the beneficiary of much of this growth, to the tune of roughly 200,000 people per year. Fortuitously, the planning of Toronto’s future has been the subject of continuous lively debate among politicians, academics, developers, planners and citizens, the result of which has been that Toronto has developed policies focused on making itself an increasingly dense, public transportbased, green urban city. The future development of the enormous Downsview Airport site, the focus of our master planning work, is one of areas of this focus.

Site

Our work centers on part of what was once a Canadian military airport of several hundred acres. Originally constructed to be on the periphery, the airport site has been gradually enveloped by the city. At the center of the government land, the actual airport, including the runway system and several very large buildings, were sold several years ago to Bombardier, Canada’s largest aircraft manufacturer, for active use as one of its main manufacturing, design and testing facilities. However, beyond the Bombardier site, an area of more than 300 aces, mostly to the south and west, was designated to be developed into an active part of the growing city fabric of Toronto. The first two phases of this enterprise, an enormous park and a new subway line and stop are nearing completion. Our task was to develop a master plan that would add housing for more than 12,000 people and more than 2,000,000 sf of retail and commercial space and create an effective, coherent urban fabric.


Project

The city has surrounded the Downsview site in ways that are mostly disparate and chaotic. Remnants of Toronto’s primary orthogonal grid are in evidence, as are some lesser idiosyncratic grids as well as some elements of pure suburbia. Our principal goal was to create a new urban infrastructure via a series of finely calibrated grids. These grids would be capable of weaving together new program with existing elements, including the new park, a commuter rail line, the new subway, the airport, and other Bombardier facilities, as well as a range of existing buildings in an effective and coherent way. 


Following in line with our principal goal, our proposal was more efficient and compact than the existing plan, creating a more robust and vibrant urban environment while providing more green open space. Our proposed master plan for the Stanley Greene neighborhood produced almost 11% more residentual units than the existing plan, while providing 40% more dedicated green space and eliminating high-rise building types that detrimentally affect urban community sensibilities.

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