The clean, concrete facade of the National Life Building has been a staple on University Avenue for 50 years, but it may soon be replaced by something taller, shinier, and, ahem, cash flow-ier.
On August 30, a proposal was submitted to the City on behalf of iA Financial Group detailing plans to tear down the existing National Life Building at 522 University Avenue and erect a 62-storey mixed-use skyscraper in its place.
The proposed skyscraper would comprise a 49-storey residential tower above a a 13-storey office podium, stepping down to a four-storey base element along University Avenue. The residential portion would contain 611 units of various types.
Of the 58,859 total sq. ft of gross floor area, 35,154 sq. m would be dedicated to residential uses, 23,351 sq. m to office uses, and 354 sq. m to retail uses. Toronto architectural firm, WZMH Architects would spearhead the design, introducing a modern aesthetic with plenty of glass and steel.
If approved, the building would tower close to 234 m over street level, making Toronto’s 11th-tallest building.
Although the new development would add residential units to the downtown core, there could be concern over the historical merit of the National Life Building, which has been there since 1972. The building was designed by John B. Parkin Associates -- a Canadian architectural firm involved in the design of many notable buildings throughout the GTA, including the Sun Life Building, Sidney Smith Hall, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Humber Memorial Hospital, amongst more.
But according to a Planning Rationale submitted to the city, the proposed development stands to enhance the site in more ways than one.
“As part of the redevelopment, the existing raised courtyard, which creates a physical barrier to the surrounding public realm and represents an obstacle in the accessibility and usability of the site, will be removed. As a result, the proposal will eliminate the existing barriers at grade and create an inviting and attractive streetscape that facilitates universal access to the building and an expanded public realm from the sidewalk," it reads. "In addition, a curb extension will be added at the intersection of Elm Street and Simcoe Street to expand the public realm and to improve pedestrian safety by reducing crossing distances.”
522 University Avenue is located at the southwest corner of University Avenue and Elm Street, within walking distance to St. Patrick and Queen’s Park subway stations. The tower proposed for the site is currently under review.