It's been a few months since we last checked in on progress at the site of the Daniels Corporation's HighPark Condominiums on Bloor Street in Toronto's West End. At the time we visited the site of the Diamond Schmitt Architects-designed development in August, excavation at the site had only be under way for a short while. More than two and a half months later, the excavation has reached the bottom… mostly!**

Looking east across the excavation for Daniels' HighPark Condominiums, image by Craig White

Above, the image looks east into the excavation from the top of the current ramp. Below, you get the view looking southwest from the opposite corner. What you can see in the midst of all of this are the footings for the building, being worked on, at various stages of progress. In the lower left and lower right of the image below you will see two footings, already poured, with flat concrete tops, and with a key inscribed into the surface. The building will stand on those footings—on giant pads of rubber, sandwiched between the footings and the base of the columns. The rubber pads are there to isolate the building from the vibrations in the earth from the adjacent Bloor-Danforth line subway tunnel. People here will be living "right above the subway" (well, just about), but they won't be shaken by its presence.

Looking southwest across the excavation for Daniels' HighPark Condominiums, image by Craig White

Below, we zero in on the L-shaped pit from the middle of the image above, where work is under way to flatten the base and sides. This pit is going to be the footing of one of the stairwells. The size of the walls around each stairwell will provide a significant amount of the building's strength.

Smoothing out the pit for the footing of a stairwell, image by Craig White

Next to go into the pit, before any concrete is poured, is a rebar cage. In the image below, the shovel has been detached from the excavator's arm, and chains now dangle from its end.

Hooking up a rebar cage to move into the pit, image by Craig White

No more dangling for this chain, as a construction work attaches it firmly to the cage.

Hooking up a rebar cage to move into the pit, image by Craig White

With chains attached to four sides of the cage, it is lifted towards the pit…

Moving the rebar cage, image by Craig White

…and lowered into it.

Lowering the rebar cage, image by Craig White

Below, workers scramble to detach the chains once the cage is positioned.

Placing the rebar cage, image by Craig White

The earth to the side of the pit has to be smoothed out now to ready it for a concrete delivery.

The shovel is used to smooth out the ground near the pit, image by Craig White

There's the truck now, just arrived from the concrete plant up by Keele and Wilson. It will take three concrete truck loads to completely fill this particular pit.

The first concrete truck arrives from Keele and Wilson, image by Craig White

Now that the surface is flat, a Bobcat drops a few shovels-full of gravel and stone where the concrete truck will park, providing traction for it. Everything down here, if you remember from our previous visit, is sand. Everything. That means it's loose on the surface, and therefore needs a little bit of stone grit to keep a heavy concrete truck from spinning its wheels and sinking in a bit.

A Bobcat drops stones to provide traction for the concrete truck, image by Craig White

Sand is, however, quite a good material to build on. It drains well, or course, and just under the surface the grains lock in place well. Under the pressure of a lot of weight, it doesn't move.

A Bobcat drops stones to provide traction for the concrete truck, image by Craig White

So, with the Bobcat done bombing around with its stone delivery, the concrete truck is able to back up into place, its chute extended out and over the pit. Reverse the spin* of the mixer drum, and commence pour.

*The drum has fins inside it that act like an Archimedes screw: turn them one way, and the mix stays in the drum, turn them the other, and the concrete will rise to the top of the chute and pour out.

The cement truck begins to deliver its load, image by Craig White

When you hear a rattle coming from a concrete mixer, that's it essentially emptying the last of the mix. As noted before, this pit will take three truckloads of concrete mix to fill it.

The cement drops into the pit and around the cage, image by Craig White

With the first load  done, it's time to grab a vibrator. Yes, quite a big, powerful, you couldn't possibly hold on to the end of it, oh well… Right, you see below a worker on the right holding the yellow compressor, and the other has the tube in his hand, as the business end dangles over the temporary plank.

With the first load delivered, a vibrator is brought in, image by Craig White

The vibrator is moved from spot to spot amongst the mix. The moment it goes in it causes air bubbles to be jiggled out of the mix, and the mix levels itself in that area. There will be a few more minutes of this to level the full first delivery before the next one arrives.

The vibrator takes air out of the mix and levels the pour, image by Craig White

Meanwhile, remember the ** from the very top of this article about the excavation reaching bottom mostly? Time to get back to that.

When you reach the bottom of a construction site like this, you're leaving virtually half of it still buried under the ramp: see the first and second photo in this article to fully take that in. Of course you have to pour footings in the area currently buried under the ramp too, so you have to get the ramp out off the way at some point. The way that is being dealt with at this site is to pour about half of the the building's footings, then protect them with a covering, and then move the ramp. You'll see in the image below the shovel is pushing stones over one of the poured footings, with another pile of stones ready to be place over and protect the other recently poured footings once they've cured. When the time comes to move the ramp, these will all be buried by moving the material to make the new ramp.

The shovel covers a previously poured footing with stone, image by Craig White

We will aim to return to the site to see work on the new ramp soon, and will report back on that. There are a lot of steps in constructing these buildings, and it seems that there is always one more to write about that we have not done before! 

Want to know more about HighPark Condominiums now? We have lots of renderings for you to view and information to consider in our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to join the conversation? Add your voice to one of the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Diamond Schmitt Architects, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Land Art Design, Public Studio, tcgpr (The Communications Group), The Daniels Corporation, Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc