A Banksy artwork that once graced the exterior of the then-shuttered Workmens Compensation Board (WCB) Building in Downtown Toronto has returned to the same site, but it's now inside the new complex that replaced the previous building. The work, referred to as Guard with Balloon Dog, was carefully removed along with two and a half tons of concrete when the building came down to make way for construction of Menkes Developments' Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences, also known by its address as One York.

One York, a.k.a. the Sun Life Financial Tower, Menkes Developments, TorontoOne York, a.k.a. the Sun Life Financial Tower, image by Craig White

Today, after being restored and assembled behind one and a half tons of glass, the work was unveiled in the new Sweeny &Co-designed development's PATH corridor. On hand for the ceremony were Johnson Chou, designer of the case, Alan Menkes, President of Menkes' High-Rise Residential Division, Peter Menkes, President of Menkes' Commercial Division, and Jared Menkes, Vice President of High-Rise Residential at Menkes.

Johnson Chou, Alan Menkes, Peter Menkes, Jared Menkes, Banksy artworkJohnson Chou, Alan Menkes, Peter Menkes, Jared Menkes, Banksy's Guard With Balloon Dog, image by Craig White

Elusive British graffiti art-darling Banksy applied the work to the WCB building in May 2010, along with six artworks on other buildings in Toronto, following the release of Exit Through the Gift Shop, a documentary about the anonymous stencil painter. Menkes bought the building in 2011, and moved to protect the work shortly thereafter.

Banksy's Guard With Balloon Dog behind glass in the PATH at One York, TorontoBanksy's Guard With Balloon Dog behind glass in the PATH at One York, image by Craig White

If you venture 'round to the back side of the case, you'll find a story of the original building on the site, and how the Banksy artwork came to be on it. Peter Menkes points out some of the details of the installation below.

Peter Menkes behind the Banksy Guard with Balloon Dog, One York, TorontoPeter Menkes shows off the back of the work, image by Craig White

Workers Compensation Board Building and the Banksy artwork at One York, TorontoThe story of the Workmens' Compensation Board Building and the Banksy artwork, image by Craig White

Chou was chosen to create the case and and another piece opposites called 'Speculum'. It highlights the Banksy artwork from across the hall. 'Speculum' is a polished stainless steel work which vaults over the corner in the PATH corridor and reveals the artwork to those approaching from the east.

Reflections in Johnson Chou's Speculum, Banksy, One York, TorontoReflections in Johnson Chou's Speculum, image by Craig White

The PATH network in this part of Toronto extends south from the Air Canada Centre on the second level, connecting as far as WaterPark Place. The Menkes complex is in various states of completion. While the recently topped-off residential towers are still being completed, the office tower is now being occupied. HOOPP have moved into their offices while interior finishings are taking place on other floors. The entire building is expected to be full, hosting approximately 4,000 employees of several firms including Sun Life Financial, by early this summer. In the meantime, Peter Menkes tells us that it will not be long before a food retailer and a fashion retailer are announced as tenants in the expansive shopping areas of the development.

Menkes Developments' Sun Life Financial Tower, Harbour Plaza Residences, TorontoMenkes Developments' Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences, image by Craig White

Want to know more about the Sun Life Financial Centre and Harbour Plaza Residences? UrbanToronto's dataBase file for the project, linked below, includes plenty of renderings and other information. Want to talk about? You can join in on the conversation in one of the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.