NEWS: 2,000 towers in Canada’s golden horseshoe


A remarkable new study, authored by our partners ERA Architects,  paints a highrise picture of the golden horseshoe area encompassing Canada’s largest city, Toronto:

Over 1 million people live in highrise apartments  — in 1,925 of them, to be exact— in this urban corridor, spanning from Niagara to Peterborough, from Waterloo (Canada’s Silicon valley) to Barrie, which totals a population of 8 million. That’s 1 in 8 people living in highrises in the area.

Yet, according to the study commissioned by the Ontario Growth Secretatriat, most of their concerns and needs are largely ignored by planners and politicians.

According to the study, authored by HIGHRISE partners E.R.A. Architects with Planning Alliance, and Cities Centre at the University of Toronto:

•Most are concentrated in areas of high social need, but often lack access to community services.
•Residents have among the lowest rates of car ownership, but are the least served by public transit.
•Restrictive zoning has left many towers isolated and detached.
•The buildings, some now 50 years old, have fallen into disrepair and are among the worst residential energy wasters.

But there is also much room for opportunity. The combination of population density and poorly used space offer enormous potential for renewal and revitalization.  Or, as the authors of a new report put it: “Tower neighbourhoods provide a large geography for action.”

The report can downloaded here, and  there’s a nice write-up in The Toronto Star today.


The release of this report gives us, here at HIGHRISE, a nice opportunity to announce a new project we’ve been working on with ERA over the fall. We’ve been calling 2,000th TOWER. It’s a participatory/collaborative project, and we’ve brought together ERA Architects with the residents of  THE 1,000th TOWER (the web-doc we released last spring) together with a hotshot team of animators to explore the possibilities of Tower Renewal. If 1000th TOWER examined the glum conditions on the ground through the eyes of residents, then 2000th TOWER envisions solutions to the problems, inspired by international examples of Tower Renewal projects from around the world, brought to life by discussions between people of all walks of life,  architectural sketches, and the magic of animation.

We begin on post-production of the 2000th TOWER this week, and will bring you updates here as we progress.

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