The recent onslaught of high-rise commercial developments in the Downtown core continues to redefine the Financial District's boundaries. As the phalanx of office buildings spreads beyond the core of our central business district, recently barren properties south of the downtown rail corridor is making big steps towards becoming the new centre of Canadian commerce. Developer Oxford Properties is making a big splash in the neighbourhood with WaterPark Place III, a 30-storey, 930,000 square foot office building under construction on Queens Quay just west of Bay Street.
Designed by WZMH Architects, the 460 foot tall office tower recently topped off with the pouring of its final floor, and its mirror-blue glazing has climbed roughly three quarters of the way to the roofline.
Once completed later this year, the building will serve as the new national headquarters for RBC 's Canadian Banking division, which will occupy approximately 550,000 square-feet of the tower, over 59% of the building’s total gross floor area. More than 4,000 employees will occupy the RBC space.
While blue glass is a common sight in Toronto's commercial developments, it is a relatively new look for Queens Quay West. The street was built out in the 1970s and 80s, an era where brutalism and postmodernism reigned supreme.
The neighbouring built form along the Queens Quay has been described as imposing and unfriendly. It remains to be seen how the well the new development has been planned at street level, but a major change for the pedestrian realm is coming along the building's west side. Where there is now the circular off-ramp from the Gardiner Expressway to York and Bay Streets will soon be a park; the ramp is going to be replaced in the next few years with a new ramp at Simcoe Street, and the burgeoning neighbourhood will have a new central park.
The next step for the project will be its connection into Toronto's pedestrian PATH network. A new elevated and enclosed bridge will link the development through the Sun Life Financial Tower/Harbour Plaza Residences development (also currently under construction) to the Air Canada Centre and on to Union Station.
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