Only a decade ago, the northeast corner of Bay and Adelaide was occupied by an unsightly concrete stump, a symbol of the 1990's recession that remained at the prominent intersection for 15 years. Today, the first tower of the Bay Adelaide Centre complex proudly stands at the site. Steps away, construction of the 44-storey east tower has reached its final height, a milestone which was officially marked by Brookfield Office Properties on Wednesday. 

Bay Adelaide East and West as viewed from Cloud Gardens, image by Marcus MitanisBay Adelaide East and West as viewed from Cloud Gardens, image by Marcus Mitanis

The event was catered by a variety of food trucks, keeping excited attendees happy before the final steel beam was hoisted into place above Temperance Street. Just before the hoisting, attendees had the opportunity to sign the beam, which was carrying a small pine tree, as is the tradition in topping-off ceremonies. Naturally, UrbanToronto made our mark. 

The steel beam lies on Temperance, image by Marcus MitanisThe steel beam, signed with dozens of names, lies on Temperance Street, image by Marcus Mitanis

UrbanToronto makes its mark on the beam, image by Marcus MitanisUrbanToronto makes its mark on the beam, image by Marcus Mitanis

"It is our pleasure and our privilege to say thank you for a very important achievement, that is the completion of the top of the Bay Adelaide East structure," said Ryk Stryland, Senior Vice President of Development at Brookfield Office Properties. "In a little over one year from today, Bay Adelaide East will be complete. It was only 11 months ago that the first column went up at grade on Adelaide Street. We're about 70 percent of the way there now." 

Ryk Stryland, Senior Vice President of Development at Brookfield Office PropertiRyk Stryland, Senior Vice President of Development at Brookfield Office Properties, image by Marcus Mitanis

Guests listen to the remarks by Brookfield, image by Marcus MitanisGuests listen to the remarks by Brookfield, image by Marcus Mitanis

The countless partners and stakeholders involved in the project were thanked during the ceremony, including the construction workers, many of whom were in attendance. "This is a great city and it could not be as wonderful if it weren't for the men and women who get up in those towers in the freezing cold and make sure that they are built both safely and beautifully," said Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Pam McConnell. "As those commercial jobs come back to the downtown it means that we are able to live, play and work in our downtown core and that's the magic of Toronto." 

Councillor McConnell talks importance of the complex, image by Marcus MitanisCouncillor Pam McConnell talks about the importance of the complex, image by Marcus Mitanis

Following the speeches, it was time to venture outside and take in the ceremonial hoisting of the final beam. Once hooked up, the beam began its ascension and quickly made its way skyward, taking about three minutes to reach the top. 

The beam begins its ascension, image by Marcus MitanisThe beam begins its ascension, image by Marcus Mitanis

The beam is lifted high above Temperance Street, image by Marcus MitanisThe beam is lifted high above Temperance Street, image by Marcus Mitanis

The event officially marks the completion of the steel framework of the tower, which is being clad in a curtain-wall glazing system. Now that the tower is topped off, cladding can catch up to the upper floors, providing workers refuge from the harsh winter elements to come. 

The final piece of steel almost reaches the top, image by Marcus MitanisThe final piece of steel almost reaches the top, image by Marcus Mitanis

The lifting is seen from Bay Street, image by Craig WhiteThe lifting is seen from Bay Street, image by Craig White

Designed by KPMB Architects and Adamson Associates Architects, the building will be connected to the PATH system, giving workers an easy route to the complex. Lead tenant Deloitte will occupy 420,000 square feet of the 980,000 square foot tower, which is aiming for LEED Platinum certification.

Restored historic facades stand at Yonge and Temperance, image by Marcus MitanisThe restored historic facades now stand at Yonge and Temperance, image by Marcus Mitanis

Glass podium of Bay Adelaide East at Yonge and Adelaide, image by Marcus MitanisThe glassy podium of Bay Adelaide East occupies the corner of Yonge and Adelaide, image by Marcus Mitanis

As work in the sky continues, on the ground, heritage restoration specialists ERA Architects have relocated two masonry heritage façades to Yonge and Temperance. Originally standing just south at Yonge and Adelaide, the buildings were part of the historic Elgin Block before most of it was demolished. The facades, constructed in 1850, were heavily weathered and showed their age. Since cleaned, their new location builds on the transformation of the Dineen Building across the street as the glassy podium of Bay Adelaide East now marks the spot where the historic facades once stood. The next step is to animate the space with retail. 

Bay Adelaide East makes an impact from St. James Park, image by Marcus MitanisBay Adelaide East makes an impact from St. James Park, image by Marcus Mitanis

Bay Adelaide East as viewed from Nathan Phillips Square, image by Craig WhiteBay Adelaide East as viewed from Nathan Phillips Square, image by Craig White

Looking ahead, the north tower of the Bay Adelaide complex will begin construction in the coming years. Accompanying that will be a revitalization of both Temperance Street and the adjacent Cloud Gardens. As described by Councillor McConnell, the street is set to become "another destination like the Distillery", with a strong focus on the pedestrian realm.

Attendees went home with a souvenir chocolate bar, image by Marcus MitanisAttendees went home with a souvenir chocolate bar, image by Marcus Mitanis

As completion of the tower nears, the cluster of buildings huddled around Bay and Adelaide becomes even more impressive, especially considering the majority of these structures did not exist a decade earlier. The complex demonstrates that demand for downtown office space remains high, with the original Bay Adelaide West tower kickstarting a new age in commercial construction.  

An impressive cluster of towers at Bay and Adelaide, image by Marcus MitanisAn impressive cluster of towers develops at Bay and Adelaide, image by Marcus Mitanis

For more information and images on the project, visit the dataBase file linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread or a leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.