When you hear the term wood-frame construction, you think 'houses', and the use of wood has been all but phased out from commercial buildings over the years. Now however, with the use of advanced Cross-Laminated Timber, 'CLT' construction, the use of wood for larger buildings is at the beginning of a resurgence. Two wood-framed projects currently being built in Toronto, but several more are on the horizon. Just south of the Yonge and Bloor intersection, a heritage building at 728 Yonge Street is being reconstructed with a timber structural skeleton, behind 1889-through-1892-built facades, while also adding new modern frontages to the south and west.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyLooking east on Charles to 728 Yonge Street, image by Forum contributor Benito

The original Richardsonian Romanesque 'Robert Barron Building', designed by George W King and George W Gouinlock, was most recently home to a Shoppers Drug Mart location from the mid-1990s until 2015, when the store was closed to make way for the rebuild. Since then, we have seen the demolition of the building's interiors as well as the south and west facades, and the gradual rebuild on the CLT structural skeleton within.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyConstruction at 728 Yonge Street, image by Forum contributor Benito

Wood structural elements and a west wall made of cinderblocks are now evident from the project's Charles Street frontage, with crews now assembling the third level's CLT structure. 

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroyConstruction at 728 Yonge Street, image by Forum contributor Benito

Meanwhile, the heritage facades remain covered behind protective netting, as restoration work led by heritage specialists ERA Architects continues to refresh the aged exteriors. This restoration will include replications of lost roof cornices. Architects Brook McIlroy are designers of the building's modern features, including the frontages to the south and west of the preserved facades.

728 Yonge Street, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto, Brook McIlroy728 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.