Located on Queen Street East in Riverside, Smith Block is a unique redevelopment opportunity that integrates heritage conservation with new housing and commercial spaces. The project includes restoration and conservation of four heritage-designated buildings, the reconstruction of the central portion of the historic block which was previously lost to a fire, and the addition of a new mid-rise 9-storey multi-unit mixed-use building.
Riverside is a highly walkable neighbourhood with multiple historic landmarks, located just a few blocks away from downtown Toronto on the east side of the Don River. Smith Block will contribute to vibrancy of this evolving neighbourhood by celebrating the past while providing new housing. The conservation approach will include a combination of restoration and rehabilitation treatments to allow for the sensitive adaptation along Queen Street East for continued contemporary residential and commercial use.
The designated heritage buildings will be conserved in-situ and unified through the introduction of a reconstruction of the missing central portion of the block. The central reconstruction will be contemporary in its materiality, while aligning formally with the language of the existing buildings. Using archival photos as well as information available from the existing buildings, the façade will be built to be subtly distinguishable as contemporary in relation to its neighbours.
At the south end of the Site, the proposed mid-rise building will be set back from the heritage façade. Directly above the proposed central façade, the building will step forward at the fifth and sixth floors, remaining tucked behind the pediment. The proposed east and west edges of the building will be aligned with the lot line, spanning the entire Site.
The Smith Block, built 1889-90, was commissioned by and is named for the Smith family, who were important contributors to the growth of the Town of York and Riverdale throughout the 18th century. The building was designed by the Mallory Brothers’ who designed this building in a Richardsonian Romanesque style to serve as a landmark within the neighbourhood. In 1961, the central portion of the block was damaged in a fire and subsequently demolished, leaving the space empty and used as a parking lot. The surviving portion of the block includes six 3-storey units with symmetrical composition. All units have ground floor retail store fronts and are mainly clad in red brick with rough-hewn stone bands, lintels, and sills.