Tallest architectural heritage retention in North America planned in Toronto


A planned 55-storey residential and commercial building in downtown Toronto is North America’s tallest architectural heritage retention development.

The United Building, on the northeast corner of University Avenue and Dundas Street West, will include the restored heritage structure of the former Maclean Publishing Company/Maclean-Hunter Building at 481 University Ave., with commercial and retail space from the ground floor to the 10th floor and new residences above the historic structure.

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The United Building will include 55 storeys of commercial and retail space, along with 759 residences.
The United Building will include 55 storeys of commercial and retail space, along with 759 residences.

The developer is Davpart Inc. President and CEO David Hofstedter says, “From 1910 to the 1980s, 481 was the location of Maclean Publishing and later Maclean-Hunter with several buildings added to become one of the most recognized structures on University Avenue.”

Maclean-Hunter grew to become the largest Canadian publisher of trade journals and the home to flagship Maclean’s Magazine, Chatelaine and the Financial Post newspaper.

“The existing structure is an example of a commercial building from the interwar era and is the result of many bold design influences, from Beaux-Arts to Modern Classical.  While restoring the exterior, we will complete the interior to the highest standard of contemporary office and retail available today, so their current uses can continue,” Hofstedter says.

A rendering of the lobby of The United Building.
A rendering of the lobby of The United Building.

The design team includes B+H Architects as prime consultant and design architects; heritage consultants ERA Architects; and Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting.  Baker Real Estate will manage sales activities.

The United will include 224,245 sq. ft. of commercial office space and 39,320 sq. ft. of retail space up to the 10th floor, where the 759 residences units begin. The front door to 481 University leads to the offices and retail; the residential condominium entrance will be at 88 Centre St., offering direct access to the TTC’s St. Patrick Station from inside the building.

It will include studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom designs, some with a den, flex or media room. Some will have two-storey plans. Suites sizes range from 300 sq. ft. to 1,400 sq. ft.

“The design of this building draws from the energy of its location at the intersection of the city’s primary cultural, institutional and retail anchors as well as its preserved architectural cultural heritage,” says Mark Berest, B+H Architects principal. “It is a tribute to Toronto’s cosmopolitan character and considers a new convergence of live, work, and play.”

ERA Architects principal Graeme Stewart says, “Our heritage work includes retaining, restoring and enhancing two large and significant buildings.  The first is a noteworthy 1930s Collegiate Gothic building by Toronto architect Murry Brown, designed with New York’s Schultze & Weaver.  The second, designed by Marani & Morris architects, is a mid century example of modern stone office towers that contribute to the distinctive character of University Avenue.”


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