When the times change, you not only move with them – you try to precede them.
Developer Westbank Corp. has taken Ed Mirvish’s advice to heart in designing the new Mirvish Village on the site of Honest Ed’s.
Eschewing the towering glass monoliths we’ve come to expect, Vancouver-based Gregory Henriquez Architects and Landscape Architect Janet Rosenberg are working with Westbank to plan an approachable cluster of low, mid, and high-rise buildings. Their design will respond to the underlying fabric of streets, laneways, and park spaces. The new Mirvish Village will make a stepped ascent, and retain a street-level connection to the surrounding community with small shops and rented spaces.
And there will be art.
Westbank has commissioned Tatar Art Projects to collaborate with Reid Shier Inc. in developing a public art plan for Mirvish Village with the Section 37 funds from the project. The large scale and thoughtful approach driving the development as a whole calls for a similarly exciting art program; it’s too early to talk about specifics, but we can say that we will introduce art that engages with the multi-faceted historical and cultural contexts of the site.
The loss of Honest Ed’s is doubtless bittersweet for some local residents. The vision for the project, however, is grounded in preserving the qualities that have made the area so beloved by Torontonians from all over the city. Preserving the diversity and eclecticism the neighbourhood has fostered over generations, the art will speak to an enduring legacy of inclusion.
The proposed complex offers an innovative integration of energy infrastructures and pays special attention to bike-ability, even offering a bike valet service for residents and an underground bike service area. At grade, a permanent urban marketplace will draw visitors from outside the immediate neighbourhood. Dense retail will invite them to linger.
Nostalgia for Honest Ed’s may temper enthusiasm for some in the short term, but from a city-planning perspective Mirvish Village feels almost too good to be true.
We look forward to unveiling art that stimulates and exhilarates. Ed would agree: an opportunity like this comes once in a lifetime.