Sidewalk Labs Abandons Quayside Project
7. May 2020
Image: Sidewalk Labs
In a "three-minute read" on Medium, Sidewalk Labs CEO Daniel Doctoroff explains why "it no longer made sense to proceed with the Quayside project" in Toronto.
Located on a 12-acre waterfront site, the controversial Quayside project would have seen Waterfront Toronto and Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs build a mixed-use "smart neighborhood" with "intelligent" buildings, testing of self-driving vehicles on its roads, and the installation of sensors and cameras to collect information on environmental conditions, noise levels, and traffic density. Building designs by Michael Green Architecture, Heatherwick Studio, and Snøhetta were unveiled one year ago, with a palette of mass timber aimed at making the project "climate positive."
While the ambitions extended to affordability (40% of the housing would be below market-rate), Quayside would have been just the first phase of a much-larger 190-acre development. Last year upon the unveiling I wrote, "Sidewalk Labs is arguing that it would need to build out the entire 190 acres after making the initial investment in 'prototypes' on the 12-acre Quayside site. Freight tunnels, for instance, would only work at a scale larger than Quayside. Ditto automated vehicles, 'climate positive' buildings, and the 'Tall Timber Factory' it would erect to build the mass-timber towers."
With the COVID-19 crisis creating, to Doctoroff, "unprecedented economic uncertainty," it's no surprise to read his words that "it has become too difficult to make the 12-acre project financially viable without sacrificing core parts of the plan we had developed together with Waterfront Toronto to build a truly inclusive, sustainable community." Those "core parts of the plan" depended on the eventual build-out of the larger site, something too large even for a Google company to invest in during the present "uncertainty."