According to the CBRE, vacancies in Toronto's Downtown office market are now at a record low. Despite numerous new office developments completing this year, including The Globe and Mail Centre, EY Tower, and Sun Llife Financial at One York, it appears likely that demand for office space in the City's core will continue to remain strong. With plenty of new office towers approved by the City—many of which are seeking anchor tenants before breaking ground—Toronto's older office complexes need to find ways to stay competitive with the newer AAA office towers hitting the market. 

Richmond Adelaide Centre, WZMH Architects, Oxford Properties, TorontoRichmond Adelaide Centre, image via Apple Maps

Moving to refresh part of the company's commercial portfolio, Oxford Properties submitted plans to the City in late 2016 to re-clad and retrofit two buildings at the Richmond Adelaide Centre office complex. To be reclad are the 26-storey office tower at 120 Adelaide Street West (built in the mid 1960s) directly west of the new EY Tower, as well as the neighbouring 130 Adelaide West, a 33-storey tiered tower that opened in 1979. 

Richmond Adelaide Centre, WZMH Architects, Oxford Properties, TorontoProposed rendering of the recladding system, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The plan also includes the reconfiguration of some of the open space within the site to allow for better signage and new restaurant patios. The property currently houses Hy's Steakhouse and The Three Brewers at the base of 120 Adelaide.

Richmond Adelaide Centre, WZMH Architects, Oxford Properties, TorontoProposed ground level rendering of the recladding system, image via submission to the City of Toronto

Oxford has commissioned WZMH Architects—who were also one of the architectural firms involved on the design of EY Tower, and who were part of the original design team of 120 and 130 Adelaide—to design the new new skin for the towers. Aesthetically, 120 Adelaide is currently characterized by black cladding, with a gray aluminum building envelope at 130 Adelaide to the west. 

Richmond Adelaide Centre, WZMH Architects, Oxford Properties, TorontoProposed rendering (left) compared to the current building (right), image via submission to the City of Toronto

The new curtain wall skin will make use of clear vision glass similar to that of its new neighbour EY Tower, though with capless mullions throughout. Spandrel glass will cover the areas where the floor slabs and columns are located. 

Richmond Adelaide Centre, WZMH Architects, Oxford Properties, TorontoDetailed look at the materials used in the proposed recladding, image via submission to the City of Toronto

The recladding of office buildings is not new to Toronto. First Canadian Place—still the tallest building in Canada—underwent a similar treatment in 2011, when the original marble cladding started decaying. And while not quite a re-clad, the Mies Van De Rohe-designed TD Centre recently underwent a comprehensive retrofit to receive LEED Platinum certification, with exteriors also refreshed. In both of those cases, however, the retrofits entailed a less drastic aesthetic departure from the original design, with the architectural expression of the TD Centre preserved in full. 

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We will keep you updated as more news becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the proposed recladding in the comment field below, or join in the ongoing conversation in the associated Forum thread.