Our design brings commercial and urban social space to 38 acres of the East Harbour area, the former site of Toronto’s Unilever soap factory. Once a potential site for Amazon’s HQ2 corporate headquarters, the old industrial grounds are now the focus of an ambitious Master Plan seeking to build 10 million square feet of new office, restaurant, retail, institutional, cultural and public space, room enough to accommodate 70,000 jobs. In collaboration with First Gulf and Danish urban planning firm Gehl, we’re proud to release the next evolution of design planning.
For Michael Sørensen, Partner and Architect with Henning Larsen, East Harbour is an opportunity to bring a new social and professional dimension to Toronto.
“Our vision for East Harbour puts a human focus on the redevelopment plan,” Sørensen said. “We want to make this a space not just for business, but for the diverse population of greater Toronto. This means a strong emphasis on pedestrian avenues, green spaces, and social commons. East Harbour will be a place to linger rather than pass through, working as a social extension of the vibrant neighboring community.”
With 100,000 residents soon to live within a one-kilometer radius of East Harbour, the site holds potential as a pedestrian hotspot, and we want to encourage this role with a carefully designed urban microclimate. Although Toronto is one of Canada’s warmer cities in the winter, it still spends about one-third of the year in temperatures at or below 0 °C. From careful considerations of local wind chill factors, building massing and urban vegetation, we’ve created an urban plan that extends the comfortable outdoor season in pedestrian areas and outdoor plazas. For Toronto residents, this means a new place to connect, bringing locals together to enjoy the outdoors for an estimated 30 to 50 more days per year.
Included in the East Harbour Master Plan is a new transit hub, which, as the neighboring stop to Toronto’s Union Station, will be the second busiest transit hub in Canada. The station will provide a gateway to East Harbour, defining the experience of arrival and establishing a crucial public transit connection to the city and greater Toronto.
Ultimately, the plan brings commercial potential to the area while preserving rich local history. Central to this vision is the integration of the heritage buildings along Eastern Avenue, as well as structures from the old factory grounds. East Harbour will reflect elements of the site’s century-long industrial past, making way for a new era of employment and creating new civic commons at the intersection of modern development and local roots.