Plans for a new 64-storey, 169,781 square metre tower on the Commerce Court site in Toronto's Financial Core have been revised and resubmitted to the City by design architect Hariri Pontarini and architect of record Adamson Associates on behalf of owner, the QuadReal Property Group.

Looking northeast to the revised submission for Commerce Court 3 by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

Commerce Court 3 (CC3) was first submitted for zoning bylaw amendment consideration by the City in December 2017, as a 64-storey tower proposed to replace the International Style 5-storey Commerce Court South (CCS) and 13-storey Commerce Court East (CCE) buildings which were designed by I.M. Pei and constructed in 1972. Commerce Court is dominated by the 57-storey Commerce Court West (CCW), a stainless steel-clad 57-storey Modernist tower also designed by I.M. Pei (and also completed in 1972), and Commerce Court North (CCN), a 34-storey Art Deco tower designed by New York-based York & Sawyer and Toronto-based Darling and Pearson Architects that was completed in 1931.

Looking northeast to the initial submission for Commerce Court 3 by Hariri Pontarini and DIALOG

Both Commerce Court North and Commerce Court West held the record for a time as the tallest buildings in Canada. The first version of Commerce Court 3 was proposed at essentially the exact same height as the Bank of Montreal Tower at First Canadian Place—298.1 metres—which would have made the two co-recordholders of tallest office tower in Canada had the first version of Commerce Court 3 been approved and built . (The Bank of Montreal is the current tallest building in Canada, but The One, a primarily residential mixed-use tower now under construction at Bloor and Yonge, will be several metres taller when it is completed.) The 2.0 version of Commerce Court 3 has been significantly redesigned from the initial submission, and is now slightly taller, at 299.447 metres to the top of a glazed screen extending across the west face of the building, as measured from the ground floor at courtyard level.

Looking down on CC3 to the northeast, by evening, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

Measuring Contest

That 299 metre number will be significant for those who check for whether a skyscraper has supertall status, which according to the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, kicks in at 300 metres. As the land drops across the site, the south face of the tower along Wellington Street is about 2 metres lower than the courtyard, and on that face, the south edge of the glazed screen will rise over 301 metres from ground level. Either way, the actual roof of the tower is approximately 15 metres lower than the top of the screen, far below 300 metres and supertall glory. Height fetishists will have one more arrow in their quiver, however: a nearly 90-metre-high architectural spire is planned to rise from the roof. It is proposed to top out at 373.9 metres, which if you're happy to allow such items in these contests, would make it incontestably the tallest building in the country, and a clear locker room champ over the 312 metre height of the twin spires of The HUB, another current proposal a couple of blocks to the south.

Referencing the Site's History

While height may be what the fanboys care about, there are other changes that other groups will care more about. Two groups that lamented some aspects of the 1.0 plan were the City's Heritage Preservation Services and the Design Review Panel. Both wanted to see an acknowledgement of the Commerce Court East and South buildings that CC3 would replace, so 2.0 incorporates some of CCE's 13-storey limestone-clad walls, and eschews the faceted exteriors that marked the 1.0 design for a rectilinear design throughout. Whereas 1.0 presented angled walls and roofs in a new pavilion and connecting structures, 2.0 presents elegantly proportioned and detailed glass boxes which better reference I.M. Pei's lauded CCW without carbon copying it.

Looking northeast to the Wellington frontage of CC3 and the pavilion, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates 

Looking up from the corner of Yonge and Wellington to CC3, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

Looking west from the corner of Yonge and Wellington to CC3, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

Another change is made to the courtyard between the two main towers. Where there was a proposed 36.3 metre separation distance between CCW and CC3, there is now slightly more space between the two, now at a separation distance of 38.3 metres. The courtyard would include the fountain that currently sits amongst the buildings, relocated to be central in the reconfigured space.

Looking south through the courtyard to the CC3 pavilion, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

The 2 metre increase in separation distance will make a slight improvement in the visibility for Commerce Court North, another concern of the Design Review Panel. While the 34-storey CCN has long lost its dominance on the Toronto skyline, its elaborate top remains a jewel of the city's past, marked by enormous carved heads looking out from a 32nd floor observation terrace. While providing a little more breathing space, the 2.0 plan also places amenities and a sky lobby on the 33rd and 34th floors respectively, both with prime views of the Art Deco stonework. As part of the plan, QuadReal plans to change the use of the 31st floor of CCN into a restaurant, and plans to make internal changes to the 32nd floor that would allow them to open the observation terrace to the public for such events as Doors Open Toronto. A nighttime lighting plan for the stone figures by Mulvey & Banani is also in the works.

Looking from the carved heads of Commerce Court North to the SkyLobby of CC3, image by Hariri Pontarini and Adamson Associates

There are more details of the plan to come, which we will delve into once we receive higher resolution renderings of the development. In the meantime, there are more renderings, albeit low-resolution ones of the 2.0 plan, plus high-resolution ones of the 1.0 plan in our database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.

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Related Companies:  Adamson Associates, Claude Cormier + Associés, ERA Architects, Hariri Pontarini Architects, QuadReal Property Group, The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Urban Strategies Inc., urbanMetrics inc.