Urban Design Resources

When considering the building of a new school, it is important to design the new school in a way that enables it to integrate well into the surrounding community. After all, a school is a vital community resource. Designing for good fit into the neighbourhood applies even more strongly to the layout of the land around the school building, including the playground, school access areas such as walkways and driveways, and school service areas. These are the areas school neighbours will see and use on a daily basis.

In the case of a school redevelopment in which some part of the existing school land will be sold and developed for other uses, it becomes even more important that there be a comprehensive urban design for the school lands. The new school can be an even better place for our children if the school has well-designed connections with – and separation from – the rest of the new development and the surrounding neighbourhood.

For a school community, redevelopment is mostly about the school building and its directly related facilities, such as the playground and access areas. These school-specific aspects of redevelopment are the main focus of the Building and Land Use committee’s work.

The material we link to below is for parents, teachers and other members of our community who are interested in knowing more about how comprehensive urban design has been applied to other development projects in our area. Two of the documents below were written by, and are provided courtesy of, Terry Mills, a planner, urban designer, and writer, who is an active citizen in our neighbourhood. Terry was also the source of the two City of Toronto documents.

North Toronto Collegiate Institute redevelopment

North Toronto Collegiate Institute was recently redeveloped and some of its land was sold to a developer who built condominium towers on a portion of the former school lands. In late 2006, City of Toronto staff delivered their final report on the redevelopment application, which you can download here.

This is a rather technical document, so we draw your attention to some interesting sections that are relevant to the possible redevelopment of our school, including the “Streetscape” notes on page 14, the “Phasing Plan” on page 15-16 and the site plan and elevation drawings on pages 20-24.

Oriole Park playground

At the start of July, 2011, a new playground was opened at Oriole Park, just west of Davisville station. The original playground redevelopment plan was controversial and there were delays before and during the building of the new playground. To move the project toward a reasonable conclusion, a community working group was formed and as part of their work, they prepared the Oriole Park Discussion Paper.

As noted on the Overview slide, the aim was to “to achieve a ‘best result
solution’ for Oriole Park users as a whole – and – to ensure that the character … and natural environmental of the Park are maintained or bettered.” The discussion paper looked at the features of the park and the way people were using it, and then reviewed a number of options and some important limitations. This discussion paper illustrates a useful way to work toward a good outcome in what had become a difficult situation for all involved.

Yonge and Eglinton

Redevelopment of the former TTC bus bays at the corner of Eglinton and Duplex Ave. (just west of Yonge and Eglinton) has also been the subject of much controversy. In June 2003, the Oriole Park Association prepared a report that presented a comprehensive plan for development of not just the TTC site, but the entire block bounded by Yonge St. on the east, Eglinton on the north, Duplex on the west and Berwick on the south.

In January 2009, the City of Toronto’s planning department published their Urban Design Guidelines for the Yonge and Eglinton area. We find it interesting – and encouraging – to see how many ideas and themes from the 2003 community document appear in the 2009 City report.

All of this indicates to us that the best outcome of redevelopment is that we have a better school in a neighbourhood we helped make better.
 

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