Grain elevators present a reuse challenge since they are difficult to use for anything but storing grain. The buildings are tall, windowless, and the storage bins making up the bulk of the structure do not have floors. Curved concrete walls are an added design challenge.
One option is to stabilize them, retain them as cultural landmarks, and redevelop around them. In Toronto, a development team is proposing to build on top of one. Developers Dream Unlimited and Great Gulf are proposing a mixed-use development surrounding a grain elevator on Toronto’s eastern waterfront where a number of residential-focused developments are popping up along Lake Shore Boulevard East, south of the Distillery District.
The historic Victory Soya Mills Silos, completed in 1948, is expected to be repurposed as part of the project. The soybean processing plant on the site closed in 1991 and all but the silos were demolished in 1998. The silos were added to the City’s Heritage Inventory in 2004.
The developers recently submitted plans to the City for a five-building project with commercial, residential and public uses designed by Danish architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen.
The development provides for three parcels: a South Block with two buildings with heights up to 38m, a Central Block with a 150m tall building and the retained silo structures with a potential structure atop up to 70m high in total, and a North Block with one 130m tower sitting atop a 40m high podium building. The total allowed gross floor area across the site is 125,000m², of which 113,600m² is for residential uses.
The Central Block would be developed with a 49-storey building on the easterly portion of the Central Block and comprised of a 7-storey podium and a 42-storey tower. The podium steps down to 6 storeys along the west and further down to 3 storeys facing the Queens Quay East extension. Numerous stepbacks are introduced to the tower in an attempt to create a terraced form that tapers upward. The North Block would include a 42-storey building, comprised of a 9-storey base with a 33-storey tower element. The podium steps down to 23m along the three street frontages.
The Silos will be stabilized and conserved in accordance with recommendations from ERA Architects. Conservation may include the adaptive re-use of the Silos, for example through a potential addition above the existing structures.