When our partner Michael Emory at Allied reached out and asked us to look at the nearly 600 feet of frontage he had assembled over 10 years on King Street W in Toronto, it immediately struck us that this site deserved something extraordinary. To design the project, Bjarke Ingels and his team at BIG came first to mind, as we had been looking for an opportunity to work together in Toronto for some time. Allied was equally enthusiastic about that starting point.
I always had a fascination with Habitat 67, well before I was actually able to see it in person. I think it began with my interest in the ideals behind the kibbutz and building a community. We thought of this project as a way to demonstrate how architecture can meet this challenge and, hopefully, on completion, that will be its test: can architecture bring people together? In many respects, I think the project has the potential to be more successful than Habitat 67, which after all, was an experiment built on an island in the middle of a river. Here, we have the opportunity to infill within an already vibrant, successful neighbourhood. King West is one of Canada’s truly great neighbourhoods. Walkable, interspersed with parks and amenities, enjoying access to transit and a unique character made up of an eclectic mix of heritage and a fine-grain typology. At a different scale, using a variety of ways to extend nature, we have managed to create a village green at the heart of our project and in the surrounding landscape.
— Ian Gillespie Founder, Westbank