Stage Door News
Toronto: Dominion Foundry demolition halted for one month – IRCPA shows possible plans for site
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
On Friday, January 29, Judge D.L. Corbett of the Ontario Divisional Court ordered a monthlong halt to the demolition by the province of the historic Dominion Foundry in Toronto’s West Don Lands.
The joint steering committee of the International Resource Centre for Performing Artists (IRCPA, a service organization for Canada’s musicians) and the Corktown Residents and Business Association (CRBA) introduces its preliminary proposal to regenerate the site, at 153 to 185 Eastern Avenue. It would become a vibrant centre for musicians and the diverse communities of the Corktown neighbourhood.
The regenerated site would include a working and performance centre for musicians, a cultural centre, aimed at 50% affordable housing for musicians, daycare, and a community hub for the 25,000 people and businesses in the area. The goal is to make the project self-sustaining, similar to existing facilities in New York. Already, some musical organizations have expressed interest in moving their offices there.
The Foundry design team consists of architect Jonathan Kearns (Kearns Mancini Architects Inc.), architectural designer Mateusz Nowacki, urban planner Josh Reiniger, and project manager Larry Webb.
According to Josh Reiniger, the team has taken care to preserve the heritage buildings intact, “save for having some taller buildings carefully integrated and riding overhead, with drop down portions to provide access, exiting and servicing.”
The proposal envisions two residential towers of 12 storeys, placed on top of the iconic machine shop and east warehouse on the southern side of the site. The two other historic buildings – one of which is now partially demolished – would be united by a six-storey, wave-shaped residential building constructed overtop. The “Wave” is an architectural response to the Gardiner Expressway to the south and seen as harmonious with the musical function of the site.
The two 12-storey towers yield 142,084 sq. ft. GFA (gross floor area) and approximately 142 residential suites. The “Wave” building, at six storeys, provides another 116,250 sq. ft. GFA and approximately 116 units. The total would be 258 suites, 50 per cent of which would be affordable housing.
Underground parking could be built below the open space “music garden” at the southwest corner of the property.
Architect Jonathan Kearns sees “the potential for really exciting architecture to come out of the integration of the new buildings with the older heritage buildings. One enhances the other!
“The first great step towards sustainability and zero carbon,” he added, “is to repurpose and renovate the existing buildings, not demolish them!”
In support of the planned grid of exterior mews lanes and interior gallerias, planner Josh Reiniger noted, “In the era of Covid-19 we have seen how important open parkland is in our communities.
“These spaces, beautifully landscaped, will provide a very human scale walkable environment, with lots to see both inside and out, give users access to the building exteriors and interiors, and provide much opportunity to develop interesting programming.”
Repurposing of the Historical Buildings:
Warehouse and Machine Shop – Main Floor: Corktown Communities Hub, restaurant/cafe, performance venue, boardroom. Upper Floors: practice/recording studios, office space.
Northwest Building: offices, rehearsal/performance venue.
Office Buildings and Management Office – daycare.
The Foundry: Canada’s Place for Music + Corktown Communities Hub (working title) is the initiative of the Corktown based IRCPA, whose founder is internationally honoured artists manager Ann Summers Dossena. As part of the IRCPA mandate is assisting emerging professional musicians, the lack of meeting spaces for both musicians and residents allied the IRCPA and CRBA. They saw the regeneration of the Foundry’s heritage buildings as a solution to the economic, cultural and social issues faced by both organizations.
The Foundry Steering Committee is headed by Ann Summers Dossena and CRBA President Aaron Binder. Other members include Katherine Cash, Anna Gemmiti, Carol Gimbel, John Harris, Denys Karpov, Linda Litwack, Robert Missen, Josh Reiniger, Jennifer Taylor and Larry Webb.
The IRCPA/CRBA Steering Committee congratulates and thanks the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and Respect Local Planning for launching court action to halt the demolition. “They have successfully defended our heritage buildings from further damage – for the moment – on behalf of the Corktown and West Don Lands communities. As well. we thank City Councillor Kristyn Wong Tam and MPP Suze Morrison for their support.
“We also salute our design team, all respected in their fields, who have given their time to attend meetings and draft the proposal so quickly. Thanks also to a growing number of our prominent musicians and others in the arts community who have written to the Premier and provincial ministers expressing their dismay at the started demolition, and their support for our proposal.”
The IRCPA/CRBA team is seeking time to complete a Feasibility Study for the Foundry project. Tax receiptable donations may be made at ircpa.net (click on Save the Foundry Study; Charitable No. 100220417).
More info on the IRCPA is available at the following:
The Foundry: Canada’s Place for Music + Corktown Communities Hub ircpa.net
Corktown (CRBA) info can be found at:
Illustration: Repurposed Foundry rendering. © 2021 KMAI.