The three-storey heritage facade of the Robert Barron Building at Yonge and Charles streets in Downtown Toronto will front a building soon again, as construction progresses on a modernized and enlarged Shoppers Drug Mart. We don't normally cover just one store at a time, but 728 Yonge Street is an atypical build. A designated heritage building constructed between 1889 and 1892, it was designed by George W King and George W Gouinlock. Previously home to a Coles bookstore, it was more recently a Shoppers Drug Mart location from the mid-1990s until 2015, when that closed for a current project.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyRetained heritage facade viewed from Charles Street, image by Forum contributor Benito

The heritage architectural work on the north and east walls is by ERA Architects, while the modern design work behind is by Brook McIlroy, where the south and west walls have been demolished to free up space for the expansion.

The latest photos show what will likely be a surprise for many: that cross-laminated timber (CLT) beams are now being used for the new building's structure in place of the more typical steel or concrete. CLT is a sustainable wood product made of glued layers of timber, providing a structural performance that is cost-competitive with steel or concrete, while being created from a renewable resource that captures carbon instead of emitting it.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyCLT structural elements taking shape at 728 Yonge, image by Forum contributor Benito

The new build pushes south and east from the heritage frontage, replacing single-storey and two-storey buildings in those spots. Restoration of the heritage facades will be done once the walls are ted to the new structure behind them, including the replication of lost cornices.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyRendering of 728 Yonge Street, image courtesy of Brook McIlroy

We will return with updates as construction progresses. In the meantime, you can get involved with the discussion by visiting our Forum thread for the project, or by leaving a comment in the field provided below.