The venerable Concourse Building on Adelaide Street in Toronto's Financial Core has been cleared of tenants so that redevelopment of the site can get underway. Oxford Properties has signed financial services giant Ernst & Young on as lead tenant of the new 40-storey Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates-designed tower that will take Concourse's place. Ernst & Young will take 225,000 square feet in the 900,000 square foot building. The last business operating in the building, a pizza place, closed this past Friday.

The Concourse Building was completed in 1928 and was designed by architects Baldwin and Greene in an Art Deco style. The building's exterior features notable mosaic works especially at the street entrance and at the top of the 16-storey tower.

Concourse Building, image courtesy of TOBuilt.caConcourse Building, image courtesy of TOBuilt.ca

The mosaics over the Adelaide Street doors, seen below, were created by J.E.H. MacDonald of Group of Seven fame and his son Thoreau MacDonald. The building's south and east walls and all of the building's decorations will be carefully disassembled, cleaned, and stored is preparation for reconstruction as part of the the new tower's exterior.

Concourse Building, image courtesy of TOBuilt.caConcourse Building, image courtesy of TOBuilt.ca

As office floors are now higher than they were when the Concourse Building was constructed, the 16-storey building will become a 13-storey façade once reconstructed, maintaining its original height. A similar disassembly, cleaning, and reconstruction was carried on the façade of the National Building at 347 Bay Street when Brookfield Properties' Bay Adelaide Centre West Tower was constructed between 2006 and 2009.

Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6

Ways of saving the Concourse Building whole had been considered in recent years including plans to turn it into a condominium or rental apartment building and even a hotel, but the costs to retrofit the building for those uses proved to be prohibitive. The Concourse Building's greatest obstacle to continued use has been its washrooms which are located on the half floors, and accessed from the building's stairwell landings. This makes the washrooms virtually inaccessible to mobility challenged individuals.

100 Adelaide West, Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6100 Adelaide West, Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6

100 Adelaide West becomes the latest in a number of office towers to go under construction, continuing a recent trend which followed a couple of decades of near inactivity in the Downtown office market. It is considered to be the influx of young professionals into condominium towers in the city's centre that has driven more office demand in the revitalized area. Other office towers under construction include Menkes' One York Street, Brookfield's Bay Adelaide Centre East, Oxford's WaterParkPlace III, Great West Life's Southcore Financial Centre, Allied's Queen Richmond Centre West, and St. Thomas Dev Co's 7 St. Thomas. More are bubbling under, and announcements are anticipated soon for Cadillac Fairview's 16 York and First Gulf's next phase at 333 King East. UrbanToronto dataBase pages for all of these projects are linked below.

Ernst Young Signage on Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6Ernst Young Signage on Richmond Adelaide Centre Model, image by raype6

100 Adelaide West's architecture stands apart from many of the other office towers currently underway in Toronto in that the building is not merely a box, but it features modestly faceted sides. While boxes have been the conservative Toronto financial community's go-to shape for most recent buildings, there was a time a few decades ago when the Royal Bank Plaza and Scotia Plaza dared to break the mould. Might 100 Adelaide West inspire more creativity in our Downtown skies with coming projects?

100 Adelaide West, Richmond Adelaide Centre, Oxford Properties, Toronto100 Adelaide West, Richmond Adelaide Centre, image courtesy of Oxford Properties

We will be back for more in-depth coverage of this project as it progresses. In the meantime, for many more views of 100 Adelaide West, choose the UrbanToronto dataBase entry linked below. Want to get in on the conversation? Choose the associated thread link.