On June 21, the Toronto chapter of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute (OPPI) held their annual summer joint tour of Downtown Toronto. The tour was one of 17 tours taking place around the world, with the Auckland, New Zealand tour having kicked off the day 16 hours earlier.
All of the tours around the world were planned with the theme 'The Space Within Tall Buildings" in mind. To that end, Toronto's tour, with Nathan Phillips Square as a starting place, proceeded south via the PATH system to the most recently completed addition to Toronto's clutch of Financial Core skyscrapers, the EY Tower at Oxford Properties' Bay Adelaide Centre.
The visit to the EY tower started in the plaza between various towers of the Bay Adelaide complex, with tour leader James Parakh of the City of Toronto's Urban Design office telling tour participants that the very first section of the PATH was created here, linking the the complex to the Sheraton Centre Hotel on the north side of Richmond Street. Continuing through the plazas at the base of the tower, the group saw how restaurant patio spaces have brought vitality to the spaces in summertime. Then, it was into the recently completed EY Tower, a KPF Associates design with WZMH Architects, and GBCA and ERA on the heritage aspects related to the facades of the Concourse Building which were reconstituted in situ after the Art Deco building was taken down for the redevelopment. Oxford representatives expanded upon the work that went into preserving the masonry and the art, both mosaics outside and painted ceilings inside, created by Group of Seven member J.E.H. Macdonald and his son Thoreau Macdonald. The EY Tower's voluminous lobby now features the painted ceilings as focal artworks, while the history of the site is displayed on plaques.
From the EY Tower, the group returned to the PATH system, passing through First Canadian Place, the Toronto Dominion Centre, and Royal Bank Plaza before stopping in the lobby of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, to take in its sumptuousness. The hotel was briefly the tallest building in Canada and the British Commonwealth, and for many years the largest hotel in the country and commonwealth. Across the street from it, the group stopped to take in work at Union Station to enclose its moat, an area which will become part of the ever-expanding PATH system, while bolstering the station's retail offerings.
The tour then crossed until the rail corridor and proceeded west along Bremner Boulevard to the Concord CityPlace presentation centre. There, Concord Adex's Gabriel Leung talked about the downtown neighbourhood's history, and about its plans for its final buildings on the site, including Concord Canada House, 59- and 69-storey towers to be built on the site of the Presentation Centre at Spadina and Bremner. Concord Canada House's amenities will be focused on the top of the 10-storey podium, while each tower will also feature two-storey high glowing lanterns at their peaks, which will also function as sky-lounges for the residents.
The group then crossed Spadina and headed west into the heart of Concord CityPlace. On e beautiful evening, the sidewalks were busy, as were the cafe patios of live-works units at the base of the condo complexes. Trees have grown well over the years here, and the neighbourhood, now with many offerings at street level, seems to have a buzz. Between the east and west towers at Parade, the group stopped in the patio-lined POPS space, the first Privately Owned Publicly accessible Space in the city to have a plaque erected to assert its status.
30 storeys above, the skybridge of Parade beckoned. Originally conceived as a lounge for Parade residents to enjoy at anytime, the condo corporations have since made the space only available to residents booking it for events.
It has views both to the south (and Toronto's lakefront area), and to the north, where the rapid transformation of the city skyline can be observed. Just across the rail corridor to the north, for example, The Well will soon rise from The Globe and Mail's former 7 acre property, creating thousands of new home, new office space, and new places to shop and eat in a very popular area of the city.
Following time to appreciate the view, the CTBUH and OPPI members who had enjoyed the tour, sat down for a to talk about the city's development in one of the restaurants at the base of Parade, comparing notes and impressions of Toronto.
Tweets from the tours are tagged with #CTBUHwalks, if you would like to look up more about how this and the other tours went. 2017 summer "Global Walking Tours" were held in Auckland, Calgary, Chicago, Dubai, London, Melbourne, Montreal, New York, Ottawa-Gatineau, Rotterdam, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sofia, Sydney, Toronto, and Vancouver.