Abacus Lofts sensitively responds to its diverse context, setting a strong precedent for midrise, mixed-use intensification in the City of Toronto. Located in the Little Portugal neighbourhood, just east of bustling Ossington Avenue on Dundas Street West, the area is dotted with gleaming galleries, boutiques and restaurants that are popular with the city’s young and trendy. Traditional churrasqueiras, bakeries and narrow, red brick homes root the long-standing Portuguese and Brazilian community. The 39-unit, eight-storey Abacus, which replaces a rundown auto services centre on an 8,000-square-foot site, plies both realms thoughtfully and artistically.
The jack-knifing, sculptural front façade is assertive, youthful and completely unique in the city, adding a strong visual dynamism. Not gratuitous form making, rather its most outward projection aligns with the existing street wall, continuing the datum line of the neighbouring, established businesses, and echoing the movement of a nearby bend in the road. The charcoal grey concrete cladding helps neutralise the surrounding, eclectic riot of colours and materials.
The stepping, fanning façade further contributes to the street by creating a more generous pedestrian realm. The lower-levels are cut back for a wider sidewalk, inviting passers-by into the at-grade retail that carries across the front of the building. The slope of the upperlevel terraces prevents shadow casting, which can be an issue with mid-rise buildings on arterials like Dundas. The fanning angle of the balconies on the front, as well as the substantial terraces on the back, provides each unit with a view of the city’s skyline.
The suites range in size from 470-square-foot one bedrooms, to 1,300-square-foot two bedrooms, accommodating both first time buyers, and older, downsizing empty nesters. The price — starting in the mid $200,000s — is low for a high-design building.
For the parking, an innovative, stacked system was installed below grade to mitigate the narrow site. 24 parking spots were installed in an area that would have otherwise barely big enough for 12, with hydraulic lifts that allow for one vehicle to be shelved above the next.
Location: 1239 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Canada
Area: 40,000 Square Feet
Architects: Quadrangle Architects Limited
Design: Raw Design (Richard Witt, Principal in Charge)
Construction Documents and Review: Quadrangle Architects Limited; Les Klein, Richard Witt, Kenzie Terzic, Cory Fletcher, Derek Towns, Jamie Alcantara
Photographs: Michael Muraz, Ben Rahn/A-Frame, Unique Urban Homes