In a city of construction projects galore, Menkes' Gibson Square project, a 42-storey twin tower condominium complex at Yonge Street and Park Home Avenue, is just beginning to make its mark. The towers of the Rafael + Bigauskas Architects-designed project, which will be topped by torchère style canopy roofs, are now just shy of a third of their finished height. UrbanToronto dropped by in December to get a look at the construction progress on the project.
Above, UrbanToronto Forum member vz64's shots of the project by night, looking southeast towards its North York City Centre neighbours. Below, a rendering of the completed project looking northwest from Yonge Street.
At the time of our December 13th visit Gibson Square was ten floors high on the south tower, and eleven floors high on the north tower. The crew has a four day turnaround on each floor, and after a break for the holidays, the towers are now around fourteen floors high. The view below looks east over the underground garage. This area will be planted as a garden to compliment the heritage Gibson House, just out of the frame to the left, for which the development is named.
After watching a cement truck fill a bucket for the latest pour up top, we head down into the garage to take a look at the work underground.
Until the building's utilities are completed, comfortable (pleasantly cool) temperatures are maintained in the garage with the use of portable heat canons. (Well, pleasant if you're not standing directly in front of one.) Lighting is also sparse for the time being, but lights will be installed before completion of course, and the garage will be painted white to maximize visibility and comfort for those using it.
Above, a gap where the crane was once secured waits to be filled soon: the crane has since been raised. Below, the installation of electrical systems is proceeding.
A garage only has so many delights, piped (as per the above) or otherwise, so we are soon back at the surface. Below, a shot from within the space that will become the two-storey main lobby of the complex, looking out onto the driveway. Pre-existing mature trees from the site have been protected during the construction phase and will give the complex an air of longevity even as it opens in 2014.
Above, we have walked over to the building's Yonge Street frontage, where at opening there will be double-height retail units. Turning to our left we see a lowered portion of the retail area roof where the complex's swimming pool will be. Below, we are a floor higher and looking into the future pool space.
From this second floor space (an area that will eventually be the women's changerooms for the recreation facilities), we get a look out over the curving driveway and garden that will mark the building's entrance. Across the street to the south are the Moriyama and Teshima-designed towers of North York City Centre. Below, these holes in the floor will soon see pipes running through them.
In the very centre of the lobby is the approximately 9-metre high reception area. A sweeping staircase will extend from where the rebar protrudes at right down to the ground level below. Beyond the staircase's second floor landing area is a light-filled walled rooftop garden area, which can be seen more fully in the photo below.
Behind the walled garden are the top floors of live/work townhouses built into the complex. Above them, and in view over the parapet wall at the back of the photo above, is an ever-changing forest of forms, featured more fully in the photo below. This roof area is used to temporarily store forms until thier use is required again atop the building. Further explanation in this regard will follow when we arrive on the highest floor.
We are now climbing the north tower. Above, the view south, while below, we get a look at the contractors who are onsite to climb, or raise the crane. The process, which happens every half-dozen floors or so, requires several hours and workers to secure the crane in multiple places on floors poured in the preceding weeks.
Above, we have just arrived below the current top level of the building, and not only do we see the crane's superstructure here, but also the underside of the flyforms upon which the next floor slab is being prepared. Below, the crane has hoisted a 13,600 pound test block into position to balance the crane during the climbing operation.
Owing to the weights attached to the back of the crane (seen above), cranes naturally want to lean backwards when not lifting anything with the winch. To keep a crane plumb while climbing, the test block is lifted. Once the crane is secured in place, the block is lowered back to ground level (as seen below when we were finished at the site later on). The name test block refers to the fact that this block is also used to test the winch's brakes on a regular basis during the construction process.
Up top of the north tower we find workers preparing the next floor slab atop the fly forms. Above, rebar sticks out of the top of walls of the floor below, while cylindrical caps will provide gaps for pipes to run through the future slab. Below, this part of the floor shows many flexible conduits now laid down or waiting to be laid over a lattice of steel rebar that will strengthen the slab.
The area of the floor above that is closest to being ready for the concrete pour can be seen above. The area with the most work remaining can be seen below, where we are gathered to shoot our images. Bundles of rebar await installation at the bottom of the photo.
In the image below we see rebar protruding from a column which is not poured as high as the slab. The white wrap around the column will hold the next part of the column which when poured will be integral with the floor slab. Once the floor has been poured and has sufficiently cured a day later, the rebar for the next floor of the column can be attached to the top of the existing rebar, which will still be protruding through the new slab. This way each floor of a column is locked into the one below it, and strong, integrated columns and slabs can continue skywards.
Above we take a look at the top of the south tower, at a different stage of construction. Its most recent floor slab has been poured and cured, and the forms which are used to make the walls have been lifted into place. (It's these forms which we saw earlier in this story on the podium roof.) They are lowered down and out of the way after the walls have been poured, and will be lifted skywards again when the next floor slab is ready for them. Flyforms which create the floor slabs rarely have to be lowered to the ground, but will normally be pulled out from below a completed slab and then lifted directly to the next higher floor as soon as they are needed. It's a lot to do on an every-four-day cycle!
Finally, a look at the heritage home that the project is named for. Above, you can see the Gibson House, a City of Toronto museum, in relation to the whole project. Below, a close-up view, featuring someone resting on the front steps, possibly considering all the construction going on before him!
And that's our tour. Thanks to our host, Menkes' Site Superintendent for the project, Andy Iadinardi, and various members of his crew for taking the time to explain it all to us. You can see many images of how Gibson Square is planned to look when completed by visiting the UrbanToronto dataBase entry for the project, linked below. Want to get in on the discussion? Choose one of the associated Forum thread links!