Thanks to Brent Toderian for the tweeted link to this article by Kristen Gagnon in Arch Daily.

Woodwards

Ms. Gagnon writes, quoting managing partner Gregory Henriquez of Henriquez Partners Architects, designers of the development:

The challenges of the site and its neighbourhood were seen by Henriquez as an opportunity to create social change through architecture, believing that the project became “a lightning rod for community activism,” and a chance “to try and figure out if there was some way to try and deal with these larger social issues” in the area.

Henriquez also saw the project as a microcosm of the city as a whole, with its program as an experiment in inclusivity. This is most clearly evident in the project’s ability to have both built and sold hundreds of market-rate condos at the same address as single room occupancy replacement units (SROs), and non-market family dwellings.

“In terms of success,” Henriquez states, “the goal was to have the spatial relationships so that everyone could co-exist, but they had their own entrances and they had their own amenity spaces, and everyone felt that they were equal citizens in a new collective. So for me, spatially, the most important space is the public realm – it’s the atrium, it’s the plaza, tectonically it’s the [umbilical cord-like] ‘rebirth stair’… it becomes very important architecturally because it has a public use right away on it, so everyone is allowed to be in there.” . . . . .

. . . .  It was too successful,” Henriquez claims, almost ironically. “In the course of the four or five years since we opened, the entire three block radius [around the site] has gone through a sort of renaissance in some people’s eyes, in the sense that you have dozens of incredible restaurants, services, and retail stores opening up. In other people’s eyes the change has been too fast, and much too affluent for some of the more humble people who are struggling in the neighbourhood.”

HERE is a detailed review of the development by the Urban Land Institute.