Text description provided by the architects. 12 degrees was designed as an urban infill project, fitting into the context of a mixed use residential area where the city block has buildings that include both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario College of Art and Design. Given the art/gallery nature of the city block, the design became a playful exercise in massing and an anchor to the south-west corner of the block. The design can be read as analogous to the stacking of toy blocks, with one of the blocks skewed at 12 degrees from the others. 12 Degrees is located in the historic Grange Park neighbourhood. Grange Park is a mixed use, but predominantly residential neighbourhood. The residential vernacular varies with a mix of working class cottages, semi-detached homes to mansions from the former affluence one enjoyed by the neighbourhood.
Many of the buildings have been converted to commercial use, art galleries, restaurants and offices. A large student population also makes up much of the neighbourhood given the close proximately to OCAD. The building mass has been broken into a base and a tower. The base of the building is 3 stories high and is composed of townhouse style units that relate to the existing adjacent Victorian homes. The townhouses repeat themselves in a series of glazed window bays and stone clad piers, that make reference to the Victorian roof peaks and projecting bays.
The base opens up at the corner to expose the glazed main entrance and lobby, there is a hovering canopy of wood that signifies that this is the public part of the building. The tower is fully glazed above the base and is composed of 3 parts that playfully shift back and forth from the building orthogonal grid, there is one portion 3 floors high that is skewed 12 degrees. The skewed portion twists away from the corner above the main entry, helping to lighten up the building massing in that area. We also used the stepping nature of the building massing to reduce the impact of the building on the neighbourhood, shadowing was reduced and the building transitions down in height from 11 floors to 3 floors adjacent to the existing houses. Built on a compact 36m front x 31m deep urban site on Beverley Street, 12 Degrees consists of a three-storey glass and ledgerock-clad base under an eponymous rotated glass-clad mid-section; all topped by a cantilevered glass penthouse.
The bold massing holds its own with its arts and cultural district neighbors such as the Art Gallery of Ontario and the dramatically cantilevered Ontario College of Art and Design. The design also fits with its other neighbours. The 3-storey street-accessed townhouse-style units at the base of 12 Degrees share in common masonry cladding, projecting bay detailing and height with adjacent Victorian homes and row houses lining Beverley Street. In addition to its distinctive architectural appearance, 12 Degrees is noteworthy for its carefully considered urban design. The stepped form of the massing, transitioning down in height from 11 to 3 floors, reduces the shadow impact of the building on the neighborhood. The main entry and elevator lobby for the tower, marked by a hovering wood canopy, is located at the southwest corner of the building, closest to the vibrant commercial activity at the intersection of Beverley Street and Queen Street West.