SickKids Hospital celebrated the topping off yesterday of their new Research and Learning Tower on Bay Street, a Diamond Schmitt Architects-designed project which has been followed very closely on UrbanToronto: the building's uniquely fritted and coloured glazing has attracted many of UrbanToronto's shutterbug members over the course of the build.

The new Research and Learning Tower rises behind related SickKids buildings near Bay and Edward, image by Craig White

Those attending the ceremonies gathered in the hospital's main atrium on Elizabeth Street. Peter Sawras, director of facilities planning at SickKids played emcee, welcoming everyone to the milestone event.

Emcee Peter Sawras opens the ceremonies in SickKids atrium, image by Craig White

With the welcome given, the last pour at the top of the building was projected live on a screen for all to see. Mary Jo Haddad, SickKids President and CEO, helped spread the concrete.

SickKids CEO May Jo Haddad leads festivities at the top of the tower, image by Craig White

The topping off party arrived soon after at the atrium, giving Haddad and Dr. Janet Rossant, chief of research, a chance to address the crowd, before handing the mike over to Tim Smith of EllisDon and Donald Schmitt of Diamond Schmitt Architects. Both praised the quality of work that the EllisDon crew and their subcontractors have been doing on the build.

Tim Smith of EllisDon speaks while construction workers and Don Schmitt of Diamond Schmitt listen, image by Craig White

Ted Garrard, President and CEO of the SickKids Foundation, wrapped up the ceremony telling the crowd that of the $400 million cost of the project, to date $113 million has been raised through private philanthropy from over 8,000 individuals and corporations, a very couple of figures. Lead donor Peter Gilgan of Mattamy Homes was particularly thanked for his $40 Million naming donation. Another ceremony early in the evening included announcements that Diamond Schmitt Architects are donating a sizeable $125,000, while EllisDon is matching contributions to the project from their subcontractors.

While attendees enjoyed more celebrations, Mary Jo Haddad and 12-year-old patient Sara Haley posed by a patch of wet cement which they had made their mark on earlier in the day, and which will eventually be installed in the new building.

SickKids CEO Mary Jo Haddad and patient Sara Haley inspect their handiwork, image by Craig White

Meanwhile, the building which will bring SickKids reseachers and educators together in one innovative and state-of-the-art facility, is not finished yet, inside or out. While it has reached its full height, some glazing and cladding elements remain to be installed on the exterior, and the interior is not expected to be fully finished and ready for move-in until the Fall of 2013.

UrbanToronto hopes to bring you a photo tour to explain the details of this special building soon, but you can visit our dataBase page for the project now, linked below, for a look at interior and exterior renderings, while the associated Projects and Construction Forum thread for the project includes many dramatic images of the project by several of our photographers! We are always to have your comments here or in the thread.

Related Companies:  Diamond Schmitt Architects, EllisDon, HDR Architects, Hospital for Sick Children