Corp Comm Connects

SmartCentres Unveils ArtWalk Condos at SmartVMC in Vaughan
Oct. 6, 2021

It doesn't seem all that long since the centre of Vaughan was just big box stores amid acres of parking… but then the subway arrived with the opening of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station, and the area has been on a tear ever since. SmartCentres REIT, who own 100 acres adjacent to the station, took the opportunity of the new direct accessibility to Downtown Toronto to make best use of the land through a master plan they developed, gradually bringing a new 20M ft² City Centre to Vaughan surrounding a 9-acre central park.

The plan, developed with with Diamond Schmitt Architects and Claude Cormier + Associés, has quickly brought quite a bit of new development to the area that's just a minute's drive from Highways 400 and 7. “With five sold out world-class residential towers, and two leased out award-winning office towers, SmartVMC is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada,” Mitchell Goldhar, Executive Chairman and CEO of SmartCentres REIT told us.  “This emerging city centre has unparalleled transit connectivity, including a TTC Subway Station and York Regional Bus Terminal on site."

While current construction immediately to the east is adding more residential buildings, the next parcel of land to be developed has now been revealed; just to the west of Transit City will be the mixed-use ArtWalk District. Launched this past summer with a series of "accessible, experiential art and culture activations," the ArtWalk District was kicked off with 30,000 ft² of murals painted by acclaimed local and international artists including Ricardo Cavolo, birdO, Ben Johnston, and Jeremy Shantz. Currently, the murals provide a colourful backdrop for ArtWalk’s food truck market, and for a series of free drive-in movies that run every Thursday and Saturday evening.

New developments will transform the art district with a four-phase block of new, mixed-use developments from SmartLiving, SmartCentres’ wholly owned in-house residential development brand.The first of these is ArtWalk Condos Phase 1. Goldhar continued "ArtWalk Condos represent our next phase of new residential buildings within SmartVMC; a pedestrian and public art-oriented neighbourhood within a vibrant new city centre. ArtWalk Condos is located at the nexus of a brand-new YMCA and public library, a series of striking public art installations, and a spectacular 9-acre central park that will serve as the heartbeat of the whole community.”

Designed by renowned Hariri Pontarini Architects, the first phase of ArtWalk is just to the west of the library, an arrangement of four buildings that will rise around an integrated courtyard. HPA is leading both the architecture and interiors for this phase, bringing varying building and suite sizes to accommodate a diverse range of people and lifestyles. The design is detailed and welcoming, featuring natural materials and colour palettes, "purposefully creating variation between all the buildings while crafting a striking skyline."

The tallest of the four buildings is a 38-storey residential tower at the east end of the courtyard and fronting Buttermill Avenue. It will be joined by a 3-storey podium to an 18-storey residential building on the north side of the courtyard. To the south will be a 6-storey residential building, low enough to allow sunlight to flood the courtyard. At the southeast corner of the site, at the corner of Apple Mill and Buttermill will be a 4-storey mixed-use building. The base of the 6-storey building will feature a co-working space and café which spills into and animates the courtyard. Coverage of the site is 4.63 times, with a total gross floor area of 51,124m², in a mix of 50,281m² of residential space and 590m² of retail. The three buildings count a total of 627 residential units. A single-level underground garage provides 220 parking spaces to serve residents, employees, and visitors, while parking for 383 bicycles is also included. 

Residents of all three buildings will enjoy access to a full roster of amenities in the development, arranged around the courtyard to foster activity and interactions between residents, creating an urban neighbourhood feeling and build a sense of community. Amenities will include multiple lushly landscaped terraces with gardens that variously boast an outdoor dining space with barbecues, intimate lounge seating with firepits, and even an outdoor movie area. Families will benefit from an indoor/outdoor children's play area, while those working from home will have use of an expansive 2,500 ft² co-working centre facing the courtyard. The double-height co-working space is designed with neutral tones to provide a calming, focus-supporting environment, and a community café will be at hand. A spiral staircase, see below at the back, leads to a breakout area to chat with co-workers or friends.

ArtWalk will be future-ready when delivered, with WiFi will be offered in all common areas, and an app available for all residents to book amenities, control smart thermostats in suites, provide keyless entry, and more. According to Goldhar, the same holistic approach to master planning SmartVMC has been applied to ArtWalk, including "the active integration of art and culture, the pedestrian focus, and the thoughtful consideration of connectivity with the surrounding amenities."