In the News
Downsview Airfield Redevelopment Slated to Begin with The Hangar District
Published March 7, 2023
View original Urban Toronto News article here.
Following up on our coverage of the id8 Downsview Framework Plan yesterday — devised by Northcrest Developments and the Canada Lands Company to guide the development of the Downsview Park Airfield — we are now taking a closer look at where the decade-spanning city building project will be getting its start, with The Hangar District.
Sourcing design work from both Perkins Eastman and BDP Quadrangle, the Hangar District will comprise a state of the art film production studio titled the Downsview Studio Campus, an employment hub occupying the existing Hangar structures, and a network of new residential mid-rise buildings hoping to accommodate nearly 5,000 residents.
Concept design of Hangar District streetscape
In its entirety, the Hangar District is a 102-acre site, originally referred to in the planning documents for id8 as Taxiway West, that occupies the southwestern arm of the larger Downsview Airfield lands. The site has a long history of industrial uses over the last century, and is deeply connected to innovations in the field of aviation in both the pre-war and post-war periods, as the manufacturing centre for aircraft companies De Havilland and Bombardier. The lands are currently occupied by a number of industrial structures including 12 hangar buildings, and a handful of associated buildings surrounding the hangars to the south, as well as extensive surface parking. All of these existing structures maintain a low-to-mid-rise massing.
Looking northeast to the buildings on the Hangar District site, image courtesy of Perkins Eastman
The site plan offers a comprehensive outline of how this large district will be broken up, and what kind of programming will occupy the smaller sub-districts. Beginning on the north end, the Studio Campus will take up a substantial portion of the total district area. Splitting the central portion of the district, the sub-district to the west will see the hangars retrofitted into new commercial space, while the area to the east, dubbed The Village, will be intensified with residential uses. Finally, the southernmost sub-district, Ancaster West, will be developed with family oriented and affordable housing components to ensure that a diverse and mixed-income community can flourish.
Site plan of the Hangar District shows the sub-districts to be developed in phases
The Downsview Studio Campus represents the first phase of development for the district, resulting in the delivery of a high-end facility designed by BDP Quadrangle, slated to offer 1.1 million ft² of studio floor space. Despite only standing four storeys, the building achieves its promised area through the use of an elongated rectangular footprint. Two separate four-storey volumes make up the entire studio building, and are joined at the centre by an enclosed walkway volume that is set back from the north and south elevations. A total of 8 different sound stages will be on offer at the studio, all spaced out evenly along the grade level. Each stage enjoys the full four-storey height clearance of the building.
Looking southwest to the Downsview Studio Campus building
Beyond the film studio, the remaining sub-districts are in a more developmental stage of their design process, with architects Perkins Eastman working on a strategy to meet the project’s extensive set of objectives. At this point, the architects have laid out the sub-districts into smaller blocks, and assigned targets for unit counts in each of those blocks; in its current state, the district is slated to offer a total of 2,850 units.
While design characteristics like exterior expressions are still a work in progress, what has been established is a demonstration plan that reflects the intended massing of the new buildings, as well as their positioning within the sub-districts. The height spectrum ranges from four storeys on the lowest end to 14 storeys on the highest end, reflecting a commitment to the mid-rise typology as an effective model for creating pedestrian-friendly communities while still delivering on targets for legitimate density.
Looking north to the demonstration plan showing massing of the proposed buildings
Planning for pedestrian and vehicle circulation within the community has also made significant progress, with a network of roads laid out to create circulation among the blocks, and integrate the newly constructed community with the existing residential community bordering the site to the southeast. Lining these new roads are also a series of parks that will amount to a total of over six acres of greenspace.
A new road network has been developed to facilitate smooth circulation
With the construction of the Downsview Studio Campus set to begin as early as this year, the transition of the Downsview Airfield into an elaborate mixed-use community is taking a highly anticipated first step. While we know this process will continue to unfold over a period of decades, the Hangar District promises to set the tone of this project for years to come.
UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.