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The Globe and Mail

Downtown DNA: City of Vaughan builds an urban core from scratch

A most unusual project: 'An enormous tract of undeveloped land with a subway coming up right in the middle of it'

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Architectural renderings show the view looking east toward the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) – a new urban downtown core with commercial, residential and retail components that is starting to sprout north of Toronto in the City of Vaughan.

Diamond Schmitt Architects

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A view of the pedestrian network that will connect the VMC to the transportation network. A 8.6-kilometre extension to the Spadina subway line is scheduled to be completed in 2016, connecting Vaughan to Union Station.

Calloway REIT/SmartCentres

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Transportation access was key to KPMG’s decision to be a main tenant in the first office tower to be built at the site. Construction on the 300,000-square-foot tower is to begin this year. The 15-storey building will connect underground to the subway and a regional bus terminal.

Diamond Scmitt Architects

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Looking west at the VMC. Formerly a vacant pocket of suburbia, 53 of the 442 acres of land in the project is held by SmartCentres and Calloway REIT, which was hunting for new ways to grow.

Diamond Schmitt Architects

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Looking east at the VMC. Plans call for an eight-acre central park and civic square. Maurizio Bevilacqua, the mayor of Vaughan, says the planning took ‘into consideration not only how many storeys and how tall the building is, or how many different housing types you have in the downtown core, but it also embraces the human element.’

Diamond Schmitt Architects

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The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station. Mitchell Goldhar, the founder and owner of SmartCentres, likens the VMC to London’s Canary Wharf business district, in the sense that development grew around the creation of a subway – or tube – station. ‘It started with one tenant, and if you look at it today it’s just astronomical.”

Diamond Schmitt Architects

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Don Schmitt, a principal with Diamond Schmitt Architects who is working with Calloway and SmartCentres, adds, ‘It must be one of the most unusual projects in the country in that there is this enormous tract of undeveloped land with a subway coming up right in the middle of it. You’re really designing a piece of the city … from scratch.’

Diamond Schmitt Architects

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