Back lanes: Ugly but Functional access to high rises

As argued here yesterday, too many of our in-process high rises do not have any sort of passenger pick up or drop off facilities. For example, the new Claridge ICON building proposed for 505 Preston at Carling has no driveway. The garage entrance is directly off Norfolk, a side street. The front door faces Preston, onto a merge lane (which is to be lengthened…) for traffic turning onto Preston from Carling or Prince of Wales. How will that merge lane work when a para-transpo van is parked there for 20 minutes at 8am?

Since that main entrance also serves several floors of office building above, presumably couriers and FedEx and Grand&Toy will also have vehicles stopped there whilst making deliveries.

A main entrance directly on the street will work on a quieter street (eg apartments like HOM on  Champagne). It is less likely to work on Bronson, where the city insists all four lanes are needed to move traffic. Or Preston, where there are fewer through-traffic lanes.

Maybe a high-rise version of back-lane access would work.

In the picture below, a drive-through was built from one street to another, allowing drop offs and deliveries to the front door, but not blocking the street or main sidewalk. The building still had a principal entrance facing the main sidewalk. While a bit gloomy looking on  dull winter’s day, the drop off was weather sheltered and wind protected, and first rate materials try to dress it up. On a slightly larger lot (or for a building not filling the whole lot), the lane could have been outdoors along the back lot line.

dec 21, 2013 026


I wonder how well this would work for the Claridge building on Preston, where it would siphon traffic off the main street and then deliver it to the garage entrance on Norfolk?

Or maybe we do want to calm traffic / add to congestion (choose your term).

Maybe the city has already done a study on service lanes for high rises. If so, I’d love to see it. If not, maybe we should. Before we approve too many more high rises on main streets. In the meantime, what do you think?

(picture is from Yorkville area of Toronto).

Speaking of innovation, someone we know will be visiting the Florida gulf coast this winter and is looking for suggestions of urban innovation, streetscaping, design, architecture, planning etc that might be locales for walking. This is most likely the Orlando, Tampa to Fort Meyers stretch of coast, not likely the Seaside new urbanist nirvana further north.