On May 8, 2013, City Council adopted the updated city-wide Tall Building Design Guidelines.
The Guidelines integrate and build upon previous Council-adopted tall building guidelines and establish a unified set of performance measures for the evaluation of all tall building development applications city-wide.
The Tall Building Design Guidelines update and replace the “Design Criteria for the Review of Tall Building Proposals” (2006), as well as consolidate and substantially replace the “Downtown Tall Buildings Vision and Performance Standards Design Guidelines” (2012).
Area-specific aspects of the Council-adopted Downtown Guidelines remain in the consolidated and renamed “Downtown Tall Buildings: Vision and Supplementary Design Guidelines” (2013). These updated Downtown Guidelines apply together with the city-wide Guidelines for those applications located within the applicable Downtown area boundary (visit Downtown Tall Buildings to learn more).
Tall Buildings exist in many parts of the City, in the Downtown, in the Centres, along parts of the waterfront, at some subway stops and in clusters around the City. These individual buildings and groups of buildings can be seen rising above the forest cover and the City’s low scaled residential and employment areas.
A “tall building” is a building that is generally taller than the width of the adjacent street right-of-way or the wider of two streets if located at an intersection. Most tall buildings in Toronto consist of three carefully integrated parts: a base building, middle and tower top.
Tall buildings are desirable in the right places but they don’t belong everywhere. When appropriately located and designed, tall buildings can support and draw attention to the city structure, visually reinforcing our civic centres and other areas of civic importance. In the context of Toronto’s relatively flat topography, tall buildings help define the City’s image. When the quality of architecture and site design is emphasized, tall buildings become important city landmarks.
When poorly located and designed, tall buildings can physically and visually overwhelm adjacent streets, parks and neighbourhoods. They can block sunlight, views of the sky and create uncomfortable wind conditions in adjacent streets, parks and open space, and create traffic congestion. For these reasons, tall buildings come with larger civic responsibilities and obligations than other buildings.
As a city-wide urban design guideline the “Tall Building Design Guidelines” focus on how the design of new tall buildings should be evaluated and carried out to ensure that tall buildings fit within their existing and/or planned context and limit local impacts. These city-wide Guidelines do not address where tall buildings should be located or how tall they should be on a specific site. Instead, when it is determined that a tall building is supportable and represents “good planning,” the Guidelines will then apply to inform the site and building design.