River City West Don Lands Phase Two: condo complex achieves sustainability

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GTA Construction Report special feature

Phase two of the River City West Don Lands multi-stage condominium complex project is nearing completion. The 1,200-unit project marks the gateway to WATERFRONToronto’s West Don Lands redevelopment.

The project’s first phase included two buildings designed to achieve LEED Gold, a seven-storey 100 unit complex and a 17-storey 250 unit structure. The two are linked by a three-storey pedestrian bridge and have been occupied since last spring.

Constructed by builder/developer Urban Capital Property Group and Bluescape Construction Management Inc., phase two adds three conjoined 12-storey mini towers with 248 units, also designed to achieve LEED Gold, and will share amenities, including parking, and a pool, with the first phase. These towers are connected on each floor by fully glazed passageways.

Designed by Saucier + Perrotte Architects and ZAS Architects Inc., each of the phases thus far are unique but will eventually create an elaborate comprehensive design. Bluescape president Louis Hack says phase one has been clad with black metal panels, dark grey windows and the structure is sloped with many angles. “Phase two is clad in white metal panels, uses clear windows and a series of box shapes. Both distinct designs though work together.”

Phase three, the tallest of the structures, is a 29-storey building with 340 units, expected to start construction later this year. Its design combines many of the features of phases one and two into a distinct waterfront area design.

Construction adjacent to an occupied building always has challenges, in this case complicated by the shared pool, in close proximity to both phases one and two, which has been in use since last summer and that opened in June for the season. Hack says extreme winter conditions have meant crews are still completing phase two’s exterior, even though the building is 75 per cent occupied. Full occupancy will be achieved by the end of July.

“We’ve got crews on swing stages 12-storeys up, adjacent to people swimming. For the safety of tenants we’ve had to co-ordinate our efforts so we only work in the morning so the pool can open at noon.”

Hack says the project still had to stay on budget and schedule in spite of the unique design and its challenges. This is another reason the exterior is still in progress, even as the interior is partially occupied.

In addition Hack says an effort has been made to keep noise to a minimum whenever possible to not disturb the residents in phase one, and a flagman is permanently stationed at the complex’s entrance to co-ordinate residents, deliveries and trades for phase two.

While phase one of the project allowed for ample laydown space, Hack says phase two has been more complicated. The team has been able to borrow the use of a ring road circling the complex for temporary staging and Hack says only limited materials were able to be kept on site. “There has also been a lot of co-ordination with WATERFRONToronto, who is constructing the ring road, to ensure the road is completed on schedule.”

Sears Commercial provided the major appliances for River City Phase 2, including the fridge, range, dishwasher, over the range microwave and laundry centre.

Timothy Sawyer, Sears Commercial operations manager says packages included Frigidaire brand stainless steel appliances with the Ariston Laundry unit. Some of the units received Bosch appliances. “With any large scale project you are always adjusting timelines as completion dates often get moved. We have met those challenges to make the timelines required, sometimes on short notice.”

Sawyer says Sears Commercial has been involved with several large projects where it provided appliances for new condominium buildings nationally. These included Ottawa’s Urban Capital Central One building.

He says Sears Commercial can provide products on a large scale. Working with its delivery and installation partners, the company delivers, defrocks, places and installs the appliances in each of the units.

“We have a dedicated co-ordinator assigned to each project who is the direct contact between the building contractor and our own partners thus enabling one point of contact to facilitate the project. Vashma Singh-Bharath was the coordinator for this project as well as the co-ordinator for other projects including Ottawa.”

Hack says to achieve the LEED Gold design almost all of the material used in construction has been manufactured locally. The project has already been recognized for its impressive architectural design and he says the trades and the Bluescape team deserve recognition as well. “This has been a challenging and complex project. That everyone stuck with it, that we’re achieving the goals we set out to, is a testament to the team assembled here and the effort of everyone involved.”

Phase four has not been designed or scheduled yet and will bring the total number of units to 1,200. With the intent to have all of these phases certified LEED Gold, this will make the overall development the largest carbon-neutral project in Canada.

The overall West Don Lands redevelopment project also has included construction of the Athletes’ Village to support the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games. After the games, these 787 units will be converted to 100 units of affordable ownership and 253 units of affordable rental housing.

A new 82,000 sq. ft. YMCA recreational facility has been constructed to serve athletes during the games and the community after they conclude.

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