The Stairway That Killed Main Street

Architect says onerous building code requirement frustrates Toronto's efforts to intensify.
January 23, 2004, 6am PST | Geoffrey Singer | @GeoffreySinger
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Toronto planners have been attempting for over a decade to intensify land use along the city's numerous arterial corridors. Looking to European cities such as London, Paris and Berlin for inspiration, the "Main Streets" program encourages the construction of 5 to 6 storey buildings containing retail on the ground floor with apartments and offices located on the floors above. However, the program has not been entirely successful to date and one of the city's top architects believes he knows why. According to Eb Zeidler, the requirement in the Ontario Building Code to include two stairways in each mid-rise structure creates awkward layouts, particularly for units that face onto the south side of east-west streets and are therefore deprived of sunlight. Zeidler advocates removing the requirement from the code in order to permit single-stair layouts as are commonly found in Europe, a configuration he claims is just as safe. However, others feel that the real problem is that on-site parking requirements are still too strict and therefore make many small-scale projects uneconomical.

Thanks to Geoffrey Singer

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Published on Thursday, January 22, 2004 in The Toronto Star
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