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G W North

Forcing drive-thrus to comply with urban design

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New rules for drive-throughs

City's proposed guidelines aim to humanize design

'We want people to be inspired to stop and spend time'



Frank Lloyd Wright loved cars. In 1928, the legendary architect designed one of America's earliest drive-through restaurants, the Yucca Vine Market in Los Angeles. These days, the idea of applying high design to drive-throughs seems more like an exercise in irony than architecture.

City planners made an elegant stab at it anyway yesterday, releasing a set of guidelines for humanizing drive-through design in Toronto. Their document is utopian in a way Wright might have related to, if not agreed with.

"It's about the quality of our civic spaces ... we want people to be inspired to stop and spend time, rather than just drive through," said Marsha Kelmans, a city designer who helped present the guidelines to council's planning and transportation committee.

Councillors were impressed and sent the paper out for public consultations. If all goes well, it'll be back at city hall for final approval by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the fast-food industry has a blueprint for making roadside restaurants more urbane. The downtown core already has some good examples, said Leo deSorcy, an urban design manager in the city's planning division.

The McDonald's at Bathurst and Dundas Sts. rates well. That building's drive-up window is in the rear, on the parking lot, giving cars ample space to "stack," or line up, and keeping them away from pedestrians.

The building's main entrance is right on the sidewalk, another feature the guidelines encourage, so pedestrians can stroll up to the front door. It's also on a corner lot, with large windows on both street sides, animating the area by allowing patrons to see out and passersby to look inside

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