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This section provides a detailed discussion of data elements within TOBuilt and outlines definitions, rules, sources, known data inaccuracies or inconsistencies, etc., for data fields where explanation is required.

Building name. The name by which a building is commonly known. Buildings frequently carry many names over the course of their lives, for instance, a building may have a name at the time it is being built, another name when completed, and then several names as it moves through successions of ownership. This is very common with office buildings and hotels. In the Inventory of Heritage Properties, houses are frequently identified by an early owner (the "George S. Bishop house"), who is clearly not the current owner.

 

In TOBuilt, practice has been somewhat inconsistent when choosing a name for a building. In some cases, the historical name has been chosen, particularly for heritage buildings, but in other cases the current name of a building has been provided. In either case, multiple forms of name are included in the "Alternate name" area.

 

Address. The street address that has been applied to a building. It is not uncommon for a single building to have different addresses for different entrances. An ideal database would include all of these addresses, but also indicate the main address. TOBuilt has room for a single address; other addresses are largely ignored.

 

Some structures, such as monuments, have no street address. At minimum, a street name has been provided for all structures.

 

The Inventory of Heritage Properties frequently lists buildings under a civic address, which may be different from the address that appears on the building and is in common use. When both exist, the address that appears on the building is preferred. In some cases, however, it is necessary to use civic address that has little relationship to where a structure is actually located, or to repeat a single civic address for multiple buildings.

 

Date of completion. The year in which the structure began to serve the purpose for which it was built. For residential buildings and offices, this occurs when tenants move in. For buildings that were never completed, this field holds the date at which the building was first proposed, if known.

 

Dates can be difficult to locate, and are frequently inconsistent across sources. For example, in Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties, the George M. Evans House is dated as 1877, while in Patricia McHugh's book the date is given as 1871. Apart from error, this likely also arises from different definitions of which date is being referred to.

 

Building status. The current physical state of the building. Most buildings in TOBuilt are "completed", in the sense that they continue to exist. However, some are in the planning stages, some were never built, and some have been demolished.

 

Building status is fairly self-explanatory, but note below:

 

       The status of "Proposed" includes all buildings which are in the planning process, whether or not those buildings have been approved by the city, or have been approved in some other form, or are approved but unlikely ever to be built in their current form.

       The status of "Sales" really applies only to condominium developments, and buildings are considered to be in a sales phase from the first moment that advertising or a website appears.

 

Note that some of the statuses within the database will apply only to sub-sets of data within TOBuilt. For instance, destroyed heritage buildings are not generally included (unless they were destroyed after they were photographed for inclusion on this site), while destroyed tall buildings and destroyed buildings that won awards are included, so searches on "destroyed" buildings are really primarily searches on destroyed tall or award-winning buildings. Most of the categories relating to in-process buildings such as proposed and sales will primarily apply to tall buildings.

 

Heritage. Whether or not the building is included on Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties. No distinction is made between designed or listed buildings.  

 

       Heritage property: A building mentioned in the Inventory

       National Historic Site: A building that has been designated a National Historic Site by Parks Canada. Almost all National Historic Sites are also found on the Inventory of Heritage Properties.

       Partial heritage: The Inventory of Heritage Properties lists buildings that continue to exist primarily as a part of other buildings. It also lists buildings where only a portion of a building (such as a door, for instance) survives. Partial heritage applies to modern buildings which include a remnant of a former heritage building that is included in the Inventory of Heritage Properties.

       Not heritage: A building that is not included in the Inventory of Heritage Properties.

 

Neighbourhoods. The section of the city in which a structure is located.  The list of neighbourhoods has been defined specifically for this project, as no official yet commonly recognized source providing exact boundaries for neighbourhoods exists. The definitions of neighbourhoods are based on official maps from the City of Toronto, supplemented by other sources. Few official city maps could be located that cover the entire geographic area of the city, and most "neighbourhood maps" exclude industrial and commercial areas or contain other inconsistencies.

 

Other sources used to define the list of neighbourhoods includes Map Art maps, the Toronto Public Library's Historicity map, and maps produced by a private publisher. Below is a list of sources available over the web:

 

        Residential Communities and Business Improvement Areas Map, City of Toronto

        Historicity (Toronto Public Library) - A site that provides data about the city, click on Enter and then "Current Toronto Map" for a searchable map of the city.

        Maple Tree Publishing Toronto Neighbourhoods Site - Linked maps of neighbourhoods, based largely on the City of Toronto's definitions, with some simplification.

Type of building. The physical type of the building, as evident from an examination of its external characteristics and separate from current or past uses. Some churches, for example, still look like a churches even when they are currently theatres, while some churches are housed in low-rise buildings that do not resemble churches at all. Listed below are definitions for specific building types appearing in TOBuilt.

        High-rise: A building with a known measured height of 35m or more, or 12 or more storeys.

        Detached house: A residential building not connected to other residential buildings of the same period or style. A house that borders another house, but which was built at a different time or is of a different style, is nonetheless  considered a detached house.

        Semi-detached house: A residential building connected in a group of two to another residential building of the same period and style.

        Rowhouse: A group of three or more residential buildings of the same period and style which are connected together.

        Industrial: A building or complex of buildings whose external form reveals an industrial or manufacturing purpose.

        Low-rise: A building that is not a house of any sort and is not a high-rise. This definition incorporates a wide variety of buildings such as apartment buildings, warehouse buildings, offices, and schools or banks.  

        Commercial block: A low-rise building, generally of four or fewer storeys (in most cases, lacking an elevator) that has street-facing commercial uses at street level, combined with residential or office space in upper floors.

        Religious building: A building that was constructed for a religious purpose and whose external features continue to reflect that purpose. This includes Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, etc. Buildings that serve a religious purpose but whose built form does not reveal that purpose, are not classified as "Religious", though they may all be searched under the term "Religious" in the Use category.

General use, Specific use, Former use. The functions that a building has served (as much as they are known). The values for "General use" are intended to be quite broad and to bring together many buildings that have a common function. The values for "Specific use" are intended to be narrower.

This will necessarily be an oversimplification of the truth, since there are few buildings that do not have mixtures of activities within them. For example, office buildings house commercial enterprises at lower levels, while commercial buildings may have residences/offices on upper floors.  

"Not applicable" has been assigned to structures such as monuments which are not buildings and thus do not have an obvious "use".

Style. The dominant architectural style that applies to the building as a whole. Work in defining styles, both in deciding what types of styles need to be defined and how to apply these to buildings, is only preliminary. The style values will likely change quite a bit in the future.

There are some significant disadvantages in attempting to apply a single phrase to a building to describe its style. Many buildings incorporate multiple styles, sometimes to the extent that it cannot be said that one predominates. Buildings have additions in different styles from the original. Pretending that styles are mutually discreet categories is also problematic, and a drop-down list of styles is bound to be overly confining at times, and overly specific at others.

Acknowledging these limitations, there is enhanced utility in allowing for searches by styles. Some styles are distinctive enough to be fairly easy to identify. And there is an undeniable pleasure in being able to search on, for instance, modernist houses.

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