ACO NextGen Design Charrette

If you were given a lucrative and beautiful lot in downtown Toronto and free creative reign, what would you do with it?

Bright and early on a chilly Saturday morning, 40 architects, planners, students, and heritage aficionados gathered in the Ontario Heritage Trust’s headquarters at 10 Adelaide Street E for the inaugural ACO NextGen Design Charrette.

ACO NextGen is the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s young professionals group. Our events have included pub nights, lectures, and tours of heritage sites. For the Design Charrettes, participants were tasked with designing a new use for 197-205 Yonge Street, commonly known as “those old banks across from the Eaton Centre.” The southernmost of the two buildings is already slated for condo-ification, and the northernmost has no plans yet but has (but was a feature of some of my grad school papers and my Ignite Culture presentation).

In the course of a day, the participants visited the site, mulled over public/private space, the needs of the area, monetization of space, and how to balance heritage architecture with new creation.

The presentations were outstanding. Groups had created professional schematics, and had come up with a wide range of options, with performance spaces, lecture halls, art galleries… None of the options went above 31 storeys, and most maintained the original structures of both buildings. It was interesting to note how much this differed from the trend of “slice off and preserve the front wall, demolish the rest of the building and build a 70-storey glass tower” we see everywhere else in Toronto when a heritage building becomes part of a development plan.

If you’re at all interested in architecture, planning, and heritage, get to know the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and ACO NextGen. Because these events are fun, often free, and you get to meet lots of cool people.

One of the group’s proposals -massive cube structures including a lecture hall suspended over the parkette. Did I mention they came up with this over the course of one day?

There are plenty more of other pictures of the day here.

Word on the street is there’s a tour and networking event slated for November, so follow the ACO on twitter and ACO NextGen on Facebook to find out the details as they develop.

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