By virtue of its height alone, Toronto's One Bloor East can claim iconic status in its prominent mid-city location. As a work in progress, Great Gulf's 76-storey tower is already a focal point and a defining presence for its self-assuredly exclusive surroundings. Standing 257 metres tall above some of the most expensive and lucrative land in North America, the Hariri Pontarini-designed building is now taking shape as a distinctively sculptural presence in the otherwise rigid Yorkville skyline, rising above—and rising a bit differently than—its neighbours.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA worm's eye view of the Bloor frontage, image by Jack Landau

Below the sinuous high-rise form, however, an expansive mixed-use podium is taking shape at the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor. Recently purchased by First Capital Realty, the 85,000 ft² total retail space fronts one of the city's most prominent intersections, and the glassy podium has been touted a premier retail destination. By the same token, the outdoor space surrounding it has the potential—perhaps the obligation—to be a vital part of the public realm. 

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe podium, looking southeast from Yonge and Bloor, image by UT Forum contributor GL17

Along Bloor Street, the granite pavers that delineate the luxurious 'Mink Mile' will be continued, complete with planters and public seating. At the corner itself, the podium is slightly withdrawn from the street (below), allowing a miniature plaza to front the retail entrance. Just east of the intersection, a 31-metre sculpture by Ron Arad will grace the Bloor Street frontage, where the pillars of Safe Hands will sway in perpetual motion.  

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe entrance to the retail podium is slightly withdrawn from the street, image by Jack Landau

Taking up much of the commercial space that fronts the intersection, a 38,600 ft² flagship store will introduce Nordstrom Rack to Canada in 2018. Offering a lower-cost outlet for the company's upmarket fashions, the two-level store will occupy the marquee space on the corner. To its south, two additional retail spaces—fronting Yonge Street—are also under construction, though tenants have yet to be announced. With high ceilings and expansive glazing, the design furnishes a sense of permeability, allowing for visually engaging retail spaces from the street. 

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsMoving south, the Nordstrom Rack space, image by Jack Landau

Meanwhile, east of the intersection—and just past Arad's sculpture—the residential lobby will be accessible from Bloor Street, with the entrance located away from the busy corner. Appointed by Toronto's Cecconi Simone, the interior space reflects the kinetic quality of the building, though the lobby's somewhat irregular forms are in subtle contrast to the architectural precision of the building envelope.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA view of the lobby space, image by Jack Landau

Moving to the top of the seven-storey podium, a similar design language characterizes the residential amenity space. Like the lobby, the spa space is characterized by an interplay of gentle and slightly uneven curves.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsA view of the spa space, image by Jack Landau

To the east and south of the spa, rooftop terraces provide outdoor amenity areas. Featuring landscaping by Janet Rosenberg + Studio, the terraces offer seating and lounge areas, as well as outdoor fireplaces, fostering a relaxed atmosphere above one of the city's busiest intersections. Stretching past the spa to the east terrace, a hotel-style pool combines indoor and outdoor swimming.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe pool continues inside, image by Jack Landau

Opening up to a panorama of Downtown—and a view down Yonge Street—the larger south terrace already features fairly extensive landscaping. Like its twin to the east, the terrace area features a a mix of planters and light granite pavers.

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe south terrace, image by Jack Landau

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsAerial view of south terrace, looking east, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

Back inside, a collection of more typically-appointed condo amenities is set to come together past the spa area. Many of the fitness and entertainment areas will feature high ceilings and wraparound windows. These spaces remain in a relatively raw state, with most of the interior amenities taking set to take shape during the closing stages of construction. 

One Bloor East, Toronto, by Great Gulf, Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsIndoor amenity space, image by Jack Landau

Closing out our coverage of the tour, will return with a look at the tower levels. Our editorial will feature a trip to the mechanical penthouse, a close-up look at the fritted balcony class, and a tour of under-construction suites. In the meantime, more information is available in our dataBase file for One Bloor East, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the project? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the conversation in our associated Forum thread.