Demolition quietly began three months ago at 197 Yonge Street in Downtown Toronto, currently the site of a heritage bank building, but soon to be Yonge Street's next major landmark. Hidden behind the limestone columns and marketing banners for the Massey Tower Condos, work to remove and protect items of particular architectural interest inside the building is now taking a pretty dramatic turn. The MOD Developments project has garnered attention for its prominent position and sleek Hariri Pontarini Architects design, as well for the restoration of the circa 1905 Canadian Bank of Commerce branch, being overseen by heritage specialists ERA Architects.
To prevent it from being damaged during construction, the former banking hall's circular mosaic floor has to be removed then stored off-site for future reinstallation once the tower is complete. The floor, a significant heritage component, has been cut into five sections and delicately removed by crane to minimize potential damage to each section.
In the image below taken by UrbanToronto Forum contributor thecharioteer, we can see three of the five sections of the floor being prepared for hoisting out of the construction site by crane, each supported by steel beams to ensure the pieces are kept whole during the removal process.
The roof and floors overhead had previously been disassembled when demolition began over the summer, while a four-storey portion of the existing building facing Yonge Street will be preserved in-situ with the excavation for the tower's foundation proceeding behind it.
The image below is taken from the back of the building, where the crane was stationed. Piece by piece, the mosaic floor was lifted out of the building.
Lifting a section of the mosaic floor via crane, image by thecharioteer
In the image above, ads lining the Eaton Centre's Yonge Street façade provide a backdrop to the activity.
In the image below, workers prepare to bring down the section of floor safely to the ground. Beside the workers, we get a better sense of how big the floor actually is.
When MOD Developments first bought the building, the banking hall floor was covered by vinyl tiles. They were peeled back when the team came in to assess the interior. MOD Developments' Gary Switzer describes finding the mosaic tile floor as discovering "a lost world of hand-set marble tiles in Greek-revival patterns, all in colours unimaginable today: aubergine, ochre, emerald and cream". The formerly hidden treasure will eventually take pride of place in a new lobby for the Massey Tower designed by Cecconi Simone.
Want to know more about the Massey Tower? Check out our dataBase file, linked below, for lots of information and many renderings. Want to talk about it? You can join in on the conversation by clicking on one of the associated Forum thread links, or feel free to leave a comment in the space provided on this page.