A new era begins for St. Lawrence Market

A public market has existed at the North Market since 1803

By Duncan McAllister —

St. Lawrence North Market

St. Lawrence North Market

The search is officially on with an international architectural design competition for the St. Lawrence Market’s north building launched Nov. 12. According to officials, the north building at 92 Front St. E. no longer meets the needs of Market vendors, shoppers and the community, due to its lack of building amenities. The strategy to redevelop the north market property was approved by Toronto city council in November 2008.

The city’s redevelopment strategy is to replace the existing 1-storey North Market building with a new multi-storey, multi-purpose building of 11,237 square metres above grade, that will continue to host the established Saturday Farmers’ Market and Sunday Antiques Market. Space for courtrooms and administrative offices for Toronto court services and a 250-space underground parking garage will also be part of the new building. It is expected to be completed and operating in 2014, at an estimated construction cost of $58.1 million.
Temporary location for market

Temporary location for market

“We’re looking for the best creative minds in architecture to replace the underused, single-storey North Market building with a new 4-storey, multi-purpose facility that will be a model for sustainable design, energy efficiency and design excellence,” said Mayor David Miller. “The challenge for architectural teams is to come forward with a forwardthinking design that is also mindful of the character and heritage of the St. Lawrence market and surrounding neighbourhood.”

Prospective designers will need to combine the longstanding civic function of a public market with an expanded role that reflects the multi-faceted needs of the city and still maintain the traditional and historic flavour of the neighbourhood. The competition presents architects with the opportunity to create a building that has relevance for the future, is sustainable and energy efficient, and expresses its function as the seat of the thriving, historic Downtown community.
North Market mural (Photos courtesy city of Toronto)

North Market mural
(Photos courtesy city of Toronto)

The St. Lawrence Market complex, consisting of St. Lawrence Hall and the south and north Market buildings, has served for over 200 years as the city’s social centre and premier marketplace. A public market has existed in one form or another on the North Market site since 1803. “One of Toronto’s greatest landmarks and long-standing traditions is about to get better,” said Councillor Pam McConnell. “With the South Market consistently ranked as one of the best markets in the world, this design competition for a new North Market building is a major milestone that further enhances the entire St. Lawrence Market complex as a thriving hub for activity and prosperity.

The City of Toronto is inviting all architects to compete with a design that fits the city’s vision for this property.” A team of city staff and a professional advisor to the competition will select a short list of architectural teams to advance to the next stage in which a jury will evaluate the design submissions and the winner will be announced next June following a public exhibition of designs in May. Competitors in the final stage will receive honorariums of $70,000.
The Saturday Farmers’ Market and the Sunday Antiques Market will continue to operate during the construction. The city will relocate those vendors to a temporary structure at 125 The Esplanade; a onestorey, prefabricated building with no traditional foundation. The hours of operation will be the same as the current North Market hours and in the warmer months the outdoor stalls will continue. The two markets will operate for two or three years at this temporary location during the construction of the new building.