Michael Emory, president and chief executive officer of Allied Properties REIT discovered tenants were hesitant saying, “we found that while you can create wonderful renderings and video imagery, people need to see something physical if it’s new or outside the norm.”
Construction was delayed before an anchor tenant, Entertainment One Ltd., signed on, although once construction began, “it was like a switch went on. All of a sudden, in the minds of tenants, leasing took on a sense of urgency. And it filled up quickly after that,” Mr. Emory said.
The project known as QRC West is a first of its kind for Allied, who saw an increased demand for office space in the older brick and beam buildings led by technology, advertising, media and information tenants. Allied acquired 134 Peter Street, a four-storey former bakery in 1998, and purchased a smaller building next to it on Richmond Street in 2005. Wanting to intensify the site while remaining true to the historic corner, Mr, Emory approached Toronto-based Sweeny & Co. Architects Inc. for ideas.
The most challenging design concept was to build a new structure above the heritage buildings that covered the entire lot, but would allow for a large increase in leasable space, taking the original floor area of the old buildings of 8,000 square feet, to 25,000 square feet a floor in the new 12-story complex.
The initial concept was for the building to rise from a table supported by sets of vertical columns at its corners although that approach didn’t give the structure enough lateral stability. The firm’s engineers came up with an innovative design they coined a delta frame, using arrays of four angled tubular columns that connect together at their midpoints to add extra support and stability.
Another innovation was to shifting the location of the core support and elevator shafts, which are generally in the centre of a building, but here they’re on the north edge of the structure. “Instead of a doughnut, you have a giant U-shape, which means we could create large floors free of columns or obstructions,” explains Sweeney & Co. principal John Gillander. Raised floors were incorporated into the design as a space-saving feature, under which the mechanicals and cabling run. The floors are built in modules that can be rearranged as office configurations change.
The project was completed in December 2015 at its projected budget of $110 million and is aiming for LEED Gold Certification as Allied tees up plans for intensification projects around other heritage properties in its portfolio.
Photos and images via: The Globe and Mail