Now rising high above the Yonge-Bloor skyscrapers around it, One Bloor East is the tallest—and perhaps the most talked about—of Toronto's current construction projects. Yet, while Great Gulf's Hariri Pontarini-designed tower has been craning necks upwards along its impressive 76-storey height, serving as a focal point of the area skyline, the building's substantial podium is itself asserting a notable impact on the streetscape at this high profile corner.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA view of the One Bloor podium, image by Marcus Mitanis

Yesterday, UrbanToronto toured the construction site of the 257-metre tower, exploring the upper levels as well as the podium, which opens up to a deceptively large, expansively configured retail space stretching south from Bloor to Hayden Street. Though retail tenants for the site have yet to be announced, the podium has already brought a strong but nuanced street-level presence to the area. In addition to the extremely high foot traffic at the intersection, the prestige of the area, together with the tower's nascent iconic status, should serve to make One Bloor one of the city's premier retail destinations.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsLooking north up Yonge Street, image by Marcus Mitanis

The more-than-85,000 square foot retail area is being built out in an open and modifiable configuration. The structural layout of the space allows escalators to be positioned in a flexible variety of configurations throughout the space, tailoring the interior to suit the exact needs of future tenants. The first floor of the three-storey podium features 6 metre ceilings, and spans 27,000 square feet alone, while the second storey offers 6.5 metre ceilings. Where the second floor is left open (as in the image below), the space is over 40 feet high.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsLooking northwest across the podium, image by Craig White

The entrance for this space will come out directly onto the southeast corner of the Yonge-Bloor intersection, and whoever does open here will have the option of putting in some or all of the second floor to either maximize floor space, or maximize drama. Likely a combination of the two will be sought out for maximum impact.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe granite paving stones lined up at the northwest corner, image by Marcus Mitanis

At the northwest corner, the Bloor Yorkville BIA's distinctive granite sidewalk paving stones are continued into the entrance (above), discretely negotiating the boundary between exterior and interior. The subtle gesture brings One Bloor into closer contact with the high-end shopping street outside, creating a cohesive ambiance for the area. 

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA look at the curtain wall, image by Marcus Mitanis

With high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows fostering an expansive, light-filled ambiance, a luxurious retail space is already beginning to take shape inside. Currently, crews are working on installing One Bloor's structural glass fin glazing along the length of the retail frontages, with the space already seeing spider connections holding windows across much of its exterior (above).

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsLooking south across the podium, image by Marcus Mitanis

Outside, the tower and podium have brought a large-scale yet delicately sculptural form to the streetscape, standing as an over-the-top eastern bookend to the Mink Mile. Since the podium is currently serving as a receiving and storage area for the construction site—with cement trucks continuously pouring viscous concrete into the site's innovative pump system—the ground level features of the project have yet to aesthetically take shape, though renderings provide an indication as to how the completed project will look at street level (below).

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA rendering of the podium, image courtesy of Great Gulf

We leave you with a video from our tour, highlighting the podium:

We will closely follow construction on the site, keeping you updated on the building and any announcements of new retail tenants. Meanwhile, coverage of our tour will continue, with the project's innovative concrete pump system examined in an upcoming story. Finally, we will bring you the panoramic views from the top, where the tower's height—combined with the area's elevation—provide spectacular vistas of the city and beyond. 

For more information on the project check out out dataBase file, linked below, for many renderings and further links to past articles. You can join in on the discussion in the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.