It's happening—or, at least, it's going to very soon. This morning, the ceremonial ground was broken for Ivanhoé Cambridge and Hines' hotly-anticipated Bay Park Centre in Downtown Toronto, which will add marquee office space, a new GO Bus terminal, and an ambitious urban park to the heart of the city. Straddling the rail corridor that divides the Financial District from the rising South Core, the two-tower project will begin construction under the new name of CIBC Square

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson CIBC Square, image via Ivanhoe Cambridge / Hines

As the project's anchor tenant, CIBC will move 15,000 employees into the two-tower complex, which will introduce 2.9 million ft² of commercial space to the Downtown core. Designed by UK-based WilkinsonEyre Architects in collaboration with Adamson Associates, the marquee development will also knit together two disparate urban contexts with a one-acre park, decking over the Union Station Rail corridor that separates the Financial District from the nascent South Core. 

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson The waterfront view, image via Ivanhoe Cambridge / Hines

Immediately south of the rail corridor on Bay Street, the morning's procession of handshakes and besuited dignitaries took place at the site of the project's first phase, a 49-storey office tower that will also house the new GO Bus terminal. At the north end of the Bay Street site, an earthen berm is already being removed to make way for the start of construction—with permits now being sought.

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson CIBC's Victor Dodig addresses the audience, image by Craig White

Set to be completed in 2020, the phase one tower will eventually be joined by a 54-storey neighbour to the north, as well as the elevated park above the rail corridor. Targeting a 2023 completion date, the park and north tower will complete a project in the making since 2007, when Ivanhoé Cambridge first purchased the site at 81 Bay Street. What followed was a series of negotiations with Metrolinx and the City of Toronto to consolidate the one-of-a kind site, with a subsequent international design competition won by two-time Striling Prize recipients WilkinsonEyre. 

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson Lower levels of the phase one tower at 81 Bay Street, image via Ivanhoe Cambridge / Hines

Characterized by an elegant curtainwall of diamond-shaped extrusions, the towers are designed to meet Platinum performance standards under LEED and WiredScore, as well as WELL certification. According to WilkinsonEyre's Dominic Bettison, the hope is to introduce a "new architectural character south of the rail corridor," while figuratively and literally bridging the gap between the Financial District and the South Core. 

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson The park, image via Ivanhoe Cambridge / Hines

Accompanying the groundbreaking ceremony, updated renderings offer new perspectives of the project, including a first look inside the new GO terminal. Prominent signage still adorns the towers—and the lower levels—though the integration of CIBC branding may still evolve.

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson Inside the GO bus terminal, image courtesy of Ivanhoe Cambridge / Hines

Celebrating the imminent construction start of what's poised to become a Downtown landmark, representatives from Hines, Ivanhoe Cambridge, and CIBC, were joined by Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca and Mayor John Tory. While Tory celebrated the infusion of jobs and activity that comes with the "transit-oriented development," the Mayor's most impassioned commentary was reserved for the park, which he celebrated as an auspicious precedent for the much-vaunted Rail Deck Park to the west. 

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson The ceremonial shovels hit the ground, image by Craig White\

While construction will only start in earnest once permits are secured, the ceremonial groundbreaking—and early site activity—mark relatively quick progress since CIBC was announced as the anchor tenant in April. Following the removal of the berm beside the rail corridor, shoring and excavation will carve out the Bay Street parking lot later this year, setting the stage for laborious below-grade work. 

CIBC Square, Toronto, by Ivanhoe Cambridge, Hines, WilkinsonEyre, Adamson An aerial view of the site in advance of the groundbreaking, image by UT Forum member Michael62

We will keep you updated as more information becomes available, and construction of the phase-one tower begins. In the meantime, you can learn more about the project via our updated Database file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or join the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread, which includes additional highlights from this morning's event.