Problem solving

 

 

We plan and conceptualize ways to make positive change in communities, and then we do the work that makes it happen.

 

SvN’s integrated team of architects, planners and designers, are engaged in building communities that thrive today, tomorrow and into the future.

We work creatively with our clients and stakeholders to develop visionary ideas and find ways to make them viable. Our creative and implementation-focused approach allows us to take projects from first concept, all the way through to realization.

 

 

 

1

675 Progress Ave, Toronto


A Comprehensive Approach to Development

progress1_op

Urban development is a complex process, fraught with regulatory challenges and economic risk. This is particularly true in cities where many competing forces are in play, and change is happening at a rapid pace.

As an experienced team of planners, urban designers and architects who balance public and private sector work, we understand the nuanced relationships between architecture, infrastructure and policy. This allows us to maintain strong and productive relationships with developers, city staff and local communities, and to realize projects that are supported by everyone involved.

Key to our work with developers is avoiding the pitfalls that can put the integrity of a project into question. Our role often starts at the earliest stages of a development. We help to shape the conceptual layout and building form to work within the existing regulations of a site – often reducing the number of approvals required by the city.

In every situation, we provide our clients with a clear and holistic view of the approvals process, illustrating milestones and layered approval sequences over the full lifecycle of a project. This unique and valuable service helps our clients effectively manage their goals, timelines and resources, dramatically improving the feasibility of a development.

We do not limit our services to the traditional scope of architecture or planning. We reach across disciplines to ensure that the planning, design and architecture that we propose, and approvals that we achieve, are viable and market-ready.

675 Progress

675 Progress Avenue was once home to the corporate headquarters of the auto parts manufacturer A.G. Simpson. In its day, the business was one of the top manufactuers of auto parts manufacturing in the country.

The site is located in the McCowan Precinct in eastern Toronto, an underused industrial area that has seen little change in the past 15 years. New development in Scarborough currently radiates out from the Scarborough Town Centre Mall. The 675 Progress site exists in close proximity to the planned Scarborough subway; when the site is developed, it will act as a tremendous growth catalyst for the entire neighbourhood.

We were hired by a private landowner to secure approval for a high density, mixed-use development that would maximize the value of the site. This presented a unique and complex challenge: without the direction of an experienced developer setting the parameters of the development, we had to assume the role and responsibilities of developer, architect, urban designer and planner.

We set about achieving a high-density approval, and ensuring that the perceived value of the site would hold true against the realities of the Scarborough market.

 

Unanimous Support

On July 7th, 2015, 675 Progress Ave received planning approval with the unanimous support of city staff and council. It is the single largest planning approval in Toronto, east of the Don Valley Parkway.

2

Life Community Church of God, Toronto


A Catalyst for Change

rA_CofGod_Atrium_FINAL

Rexdale is located in the former suburb of Etobicoke

Rexdale

In the extreme northwest corner of Toronto, stretching from Pearson Airport to the Humber River, is Rexdale – one of Toronto’s largest industrial corridors, and home to a group of residential neighbourhoods developed after WWII.

After the completion of Highway 401 in the 1950s, Rexdale quickly became a sought-after post-war suburb for families seeking steady employment and relief from downtown Toronto’s overcrowded, working-class neighbourhoods. Single-family bungalows were built on quiet residential streets, and neighbourhoods sold on the promise of space, safety and upward mobility.

Decades later, the demographic and economic conditions of Rexdale have shifted. In the 1960s, waves of immigrants began arriving to the community from Somalia, India, Italy and Jamaica. Many new immigrant families moved into publicly funded, high-rise apartment buildings built along the major commuter roads that divide the neighbourhoods. The recession in the early 1990s, and the ongoing decline of Toronto’s manufacturing industry, was deeply felt in Rexdale – many local residents were put out of work.

Over the years, little investment has been made to accommodate the changing needs of the community. About a quarter of Rexdale households live in poverty, and lack access to basic necessities like affordable and healthy food, healthcare and employment services. Long distances between residential areas, shopping malls, strip plazas and schools make the local streets feel isolated and dangerous. Although many local residents do not drive, the community is poorly serviced by public transit. Reports have shown that the absence of proper services, quality public space, and economic opportunity, has created an environment that is plagued by crime, drugs and gang violence.

A Vision

In 2011, a local ministry called the Life Community Church of God purchased 3.2 acres of industrial land at Highway 27 and Rexdale Boulevard, in the heart of the Rexdale community. Their vision was to create a catalyst for change across the district: a church and performance hall for a growing Jamaican congregation that could double as a diverse, intercultural community centre. The focus of the centre would be to help at-risk teens and young adults stay off the streets, by providing programs in employment training, childcare, and community leadership.

SvN was hired to give shape to the Church’s vision. This took the form of a 1,100-seat worship and performance hall, a 50-seat chapel, a commercial teaching kitchen, a daycare facility, a café and bookstore, a professional recording studio, a 300-seat multipurpose room, and dedicated meeting spaces for kids, teens, women’s and men’s groups.

Drawing in the Community

The Life Community Church was designed to be a beacon in the community – a symbol of hope and opportunity, openness and inclusion, within an area that has largely been ignored by the rest of the city.