It's been a cold last few of days, and on November 19, the day that Winter dropped its first calling card of the year with Toronto, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) hosted a tour of the Lanterra Developments condominium project known, maybe all too appropriately in this instance, as Ïce.

Ïce towers above adjacent developments in Downtown Toronto, image by Jack Landau

The 57 and 67-storey towers stand tall and slim and somewhat cylindrical in Toronto's burgeoning South Core area, and are quickly recognizable for their "Swiss Cheese" roofs. The shorter of the two towers, the west one, is now being occupied by its first residents, but it will be another several months before the first residents move into the taller east. It's into the unfinished east tower that we are going to go, and on not so bright and sunny a day as when the photo above was taken.

Mark Mandelbaum introduces the tour group to the development, image by Craig White

The tour was arranged by the Toronto Chapter of the CBTUH, and two of its representatives can be seen in the image above. James Parakh, in the yellow hat, is Manager of Urban Design for Toronto and East York District in the City's Planning Department, and is on the worldwide CTBUH Advisory Group and Chair of its Urban Habitat / Urban Design Committee. Richard Witt, to James' left (your right), is a Principal at Quadrangle Architects and the Chair of CTBUH Canada, and Toronto's Representative. 

In the middle of the image above, Mark Mandelbaum, President and CEO of Lanterra Developments, began our tour with a welcome to the site, giving an overview of its history (along with that of its sister Maple Leaf Square project to the east), and what is still to come on the rest of the site where Cadillac Fairview is planning a 32-storey office tower.

The pedestrian court in front of Ïce Condos, image by Craig White

Ice Condominiums' site plan is sorted out around a central open pedestrian space with one tower to the south of it, one to the east of it, and with the future office tower to come to the north. The open space, to be one of the City's 'POPS' branded quasi-parks, (POPS stands for Privately Owned Publicly accessible Space), is framed from above by the curving concrete rim seen in the images above and below.

One of the skylights that pokes through the podium roof, image by Craig White

Early plans were to bring cars into this area for drop-off and pick-up, but those plans have been dropped, and the area will now fully be the realm of the pedestrian. You can see above the 'house', part of the artwork 'Urban Firefly' by London based Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier which will soon be erected in the middle of the space.

Blair Robinson, an Associate at architectAlliance, designers of Ïce, took the tour at this point, taking us through some of the podium. Below, we turn 180° to look east, and up through another skylight in the podium roof. Ïce's architecture is inspired by Scandinavian design of 1960s, so curves and sleek, slender proportions for the elements are the language here. We will see further along that finishes are similarly influenced, with no extravagant flourishes, but with precise geometries.

Looking east through the podium, image by Craig White

As we move through the podium with York Street, we begin to see Maple Leaf Square's main doors through the increasing snowfall.

Looking towards Maple Leaf Square on the other side of York Street, image by Craig White

On the east side of the podium now, the location for the future access to the PATH system can be seen where the tracks for two escalators dive below the ground floor. Toronto's indoor pedestrian network currently connects Maple Leaf Square to the bulk of the city's financial core towers and the transportation hub at Union Station; within a couple of years, a tunnel will connect Ïce and adjacent buildings to the PATH system too.

Future connection to the PATH network, image by Craig White

To learn more about the podium, you can check out our story from last year when we toured the building with more time. Enough time on the ground now though; before light fell completely we hopped into one of the two construction hoists and took a wind-whipped ride 64 floors into the downtown air.

Riding the construction hoist to the 64th floor, image by Craig White

And when we got up top, it was just stunning up there! Okay, well, it was just stunning up there for our last visit in September 2013, and it seemed a good spot for a jarring reminder of the kinds of views that Ice residents will be enjoying on better days than the day of the tour.

Slightly nicer weather, September 2013, image by Craig White

Back to November 19th's reality though, and this was the spookier but still intriguing view from the 64th floor. The windows are in up here, so after the frigid ride up the side of the building, we are happy to be in warmth again and looking out on the cold. It was up here that the tour was passed off to Doug Wood, Superintendent of Construction for Lanterra, and Jeff Vivian, Partner at Jablonsky Ast and Partners Consulting Engineers.

Slightly less in weather, November 2014, image by Craig White

Looking over to the shorter west tower from here, we can see its mechanical penthouse area below the whimsical (and very expensive to build) roof. Hidden below it are HVAC systems and a mass damper, currently being tuned. The liquid-filled damper tanks resist the force of the wind on the buildings, keeping sway down to unnoticeable levels. Certainly, no movement of the structure could be detected during our visit.

Penthouse terrace and mechanical above, image by Craig White

Here we learned two very interesting facts about the buildings. The first is that wind testing showed that the shape of the buildings and those around Ïce mean that the windows here must resist 100 lbs of suction, trying to pull the windows out when the wind whips up. To resist that force, a custom anchoring system for the window wall was worked out after initial installations in the west tower needed improvement before the beefed up system was employed to completely clad the buildings. The second was that while only being 17% taller than the shorter tower, there is twice the steel rebar in the walls of the taller tower. To resist forces that increase exponentially, and which would rather have everything be a low pile at ground level, the taller tower is essentially twice as strong as the shorter one. Subsequently, creating the rebar lattices which are now engulfed within concrete walls took one day longer per floor for the 67 floor tower—5 days each—than they did for the 57 floor tower.

Snowy views towards the Rogers Centre from Ïce Condos 2, image by Craig White

Happy to be 64 storeys up, it was time to climb another two, because you can't come this far up and then not get a look at the cheese, right? 

The Swiss cheese roof atop Ïce Condos 1, image by Craig White


Toronto's dramatic financial core, looking a bit more subdued than usual, image by Craig White

Two floors down again, it was time to take in the north views. Well, it would be better if you were to check out the story from last year where the cameras were pointed in the same direction on a better day. Time to head down to 29.

On our way back down to the 29th floor, image by Craig White

Each of the Ïce towers shifts at the 30th floor. Balconies which were on the east and west sides below that level shift to the north and south sides, and vice versa. It was one floor below that, therefore, where we made our next stop to get a look at what happens here.

The window washing rail hanging from the 30th floor, image by Craig White

That rail hanging below the balcony slab holds the window washing platform. That's the worst photo I have ever felt compelled to publish on UrbanToronto to illustrate a point… one compounded by how much nicer this picture could have been had the window washing equipment just been used here. Alas…

So, with the wide-open views provided by the 29th floor terrace at the top of this stack of balconies, it was time to step out for a look. 

29th floor terrace with a view toward the Toronto core, image by Craig White

It also seems like a good time to roll the video:

One more ride, and we are back at ground level. Looking up York Street, pretty much directly below from where the previous image by shot, one can see here that a rather wide swath of ground will be revealed when the hoarding along the York Street sidewalk is removed next year. Landscaping by NAK Design Strategies resembling that from across the street outside of Maple Leaf Square will be put in here, but the whole side here is wider. This road is going to have a grander feel than people realize.

Looking north alongside a hidden York Street, image by Craig White

A quick visit inside, and we get to see the completed Munge-Leung designed lobby for the west tower, here in fish-eye wide-angle glory. These walls are curved, but only on one axis, not two!

Lobby for Ïce 1, the west tower, image by Craig White

Until the courtyard and rest of the podium is finished, residents currently access the lobby by a hallway that runs along the south side of the building. This hallway will eventually extend the PATH system from Maple Leaf Square through Ïce and on to 'Infinity' to the west. There will be retail facing this hallway.

In the PATH walkway along the south side of Ïce, image by Craig White

The windows face a narrow linear park, still to be landscaped. The Gardiner Expressway runs to the south of that.

The south side and the Gardiner Expressway, image by Craig White

And that's it for this tour. Have a last look up for now. We will be back in the future.

A last look up at Ïce 2, image by Craig White

If you want to know more about Ïce, UrbanToronto's dataBase file on the project, linked below, has a full set of renderings and all the information on the building. If you want to talk about it, choose one of the associated Forum thread links to get in on the conversation, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  architectsAlliance, Cadillac Fairview, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Jablonsky, Ast and Partners, Lanterra Developments, LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Milborne Group, Montana Steele, NAK Design Strategies, Studio Munge