At the southeast corner of Bay and Bloor, and across much of the block, work has been progressing over the past few weeks on the Manulife Centre's Podium and Streetscape Revitalization. Since our last update at the beginning of June, when the installation of hoarding kicked off the $100 Million renewal, removal of concrete from around the base of the 1975-built tower has begun. The reconstruction will see the podium transformed from its current brutalist condition recessed from the street, into a glass and steel structure which reaches out to the surrounding sidewalks.

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonRemoval of the Concrete panels at the Northeast corner, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

The revitalization will introduce an additional 35,000 ft² to the expanded podium along three sides of the block with a narrower, though potentially more active, sidewalk as a result. The complex will eventually feature a number of new retailers including Eataly—an Italian style food market with locations across the globe—which will occupy a marquee 50,000 ft² space, most of it on the second floor, and designed by Giannone Petricone

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonThe new Bloor Street frontage, image via Manulife Real Estate

This month, the removal of concrete panels which line the facade has begun, with the brutalist architectural character of the Manulife Centre's street-level now gradually disappearing. Alongside the new and expanded retail spaces, the Moed de Armas & Shannon and B+H Architects-designed addition will also introduce lobby spaces for the office and commercial use above, with a revamp of the interiors led by GH+A Design.

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonClose up of the removal of the Concrete panels at the Northeast corner, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

Along the exterior, conspicuous progress has already been made, with some columns already stripped of their concrete skin. Work on this portion of the project will likely continue for the next several weeks, as the two lower levels are set to be replaced in their entirety with the new glass and steel structure. 

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonRemoval of the existing Balmuto streetscape, image by UT Forum contributor Benito

Led by Manulife Real Estate, the revitalization re-imagines the surrounding streetscapes without the current grade changes. In the image above, raised planters have been removed and their soil has been collected, while stairs and concrete features are being demolished.

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonRemoval of the existing streetscape, image by Forum Contributor Benito

In the image above it can also be seen that pavers from the landscaping are being removed, while ventilation shafts will have to be incorporated into the new structure. Renderings of the new podium depict a flatter—and arguably more pedestrian-friendly—streetscape with no stairs or changes in grade, finished with the dark granite pavers and landscaping of the rest of Bloor Yorkville area. (Known by some as the 'Mink Mile', the area's sidewalks and street furniture were upgraded half a dozen years ago by the local Business Improvement Association in conjunction with the City.)

Manulife Centre, Toronto, by Manulife Real Estate, Moed de Armas & ShannonRendering of the Manulife Centre Podium and Streetscape Renewal, image courtesy of Manulife Real Estate

Managed by PCL, construction targets a tentative completion date of 2019. Altering the architectural character of a prominent mid-century building, the project has been met with mixed-at-best reviews in our Forum discussion, as some regard the Manulife Centre's brutalist architecture as an important part of Toronto's architectural heritage.

We will keep you updated as this project evolves and any details emerge in the future. In the meantime additional information and images can be found in our Database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided on this page!