Sai Prateek Narayan
symbolizing interconnectedness between humans and nature
ULI Hines Competition | Spring 2018 | Toronto, Canada
with Rebecca Lefkowitz, Damini Mathur, Ngani Ndimbie, and Josephe Poerio
The Huron-Wendat people, who lived on these same shores of Lake Ontario between 1200-1600 AD, believe that the circle symbolizes interconnectedness between humans and nature. Circles still fascinate us today, emphasizing continuity and unity.
By design, Nexus unites and complements the encircling districts and welcomes people to this site. Community-led programming engages the residents of surrounding neighborhoods even before demolition is thoroughfare to incite initial attention towards the site and allow potential residents to envision themselves here. The residential townhouses in the eastern corner of the site repeat the scale and feel of the neighborhood just north of Eastern Avenue. The 30-story office building on the western corner of the site creates an iconic approach to Downtown Toronto and mirrors the tallest tower across the river in West Don Lands. The hotel on the site is one of the few east of the Don River, offering an amenity to the businesses and the residents of Nexus. In response to the grand commercial scale of the East Harbour plan, retail availability at Nexus focuses on smaller, local companies. For example, The New Canadian, an incubator restaurant, fosters cultural exchange by hosting four chefs for six-month stints, each with a different international patio and access the restaurant easily at its verse fare in a landscaped patio and access to the restaurant easily at its prime spot near the bustling new transit hub.
Previously isolated, the Nexus site is now at the center of it all with exceptional connectivity and accessibility. The Nexus SmartTrack station and an extension of the 501 Queen Streetcar line allow visitors from across the city and region to arrive on site en masse. Those traveling by foot or wheelchair are also able to access Nexus from across the river via the Nexus SmartTrack station. And by extending Broadview Avenue and Lewis Street to the south, Nexus creates a new, pedestrian-friendly street grid with short, walkable blocks. The pedestrian and cyclist who were previously trapped by the railroad tracks can now circulate freely through the site. A new pedestrian bridge, to be completed in 2035, will channel families, friends, and neighbors over the highway, river, and adjacent lush landscaping.
When the Huron-Wendat people lived on the land that is now Toronto, the lower Don River meandered freely into Lake Ontario. New investments have restored and naturalized the mouth of the Don River, thus greatly reducing the flood risk. To complement the river’s naturalization, impervious pavement is demolished and replaced with natural landscaping nearest to the river which returns excess water to the Don via bioswales. The Focus, a beautiful multi-purpose amphitheater, can hold stormwater and host
community gatherings, like the Toronto Light Festival. Green roofs throughout the site offer supplementary opportunities to collect stormwater on the site, bringing sustainability benefits to the site and health benefits to the region.
A district designed to inspire interaction, Nexus allows existing urban patterns and residents to converge: the epitome of Toronto.