Infrastructure Ontario is closing in on the completion of a Downtown Toronto project that will usher in a new era of legal proceedings in a state of the art facility. The new Ontario Court of Justice building has been under construction since 2019, and as this year comes to a close, the 17-storey institutional tower designed by internationally acclaimed architecture firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop is making its highly reflective presence known next to Toronto’s iconic City Hall. 

Looking north at the Renzo Piano-designed Ontario Court of Justice, image from submission to City of Toronto

The Court of Justice is the first building in Toronto to be designed by the Italian celebrity architect, Renzo Piano, and is, fittingly, a building of great importance. Currently, the Ontario Court of Justice operates out of a number of different buildings across the City, which poses logistical challenges not only for the courts but for the citizens involved as well. The new building will bring more of the justice system together under one roof, offering 63 new courthouses that are designed — with Toronto's NORR Architects and Engineers acting as Architect of Record — to the current standards of accessibility and technology. 

In June, we reported that the building was almost fully glazed, with the final installations of the unitized curtain wall system taking place on a narrow vertical strip of the building where the construction hoist had been recently removed. Since that time, the building’s external appearance hasn’t seemed to change much, but big strides have been made nonetheless. For starters, the entirety of the building is now glazed and sealed, and the curtainwall looks remarkably true to render in its completed state, reflecting the clouds with minimal distortion. 

Looking north, clouds reflect off of the curtainwall glazing on the south elevation, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Parkdalian

Installation of the aluminum soffits cladding the underside of the canopies around the building’s entrance began in the Fall. The installation appeared to be moving clockwise, beginning at the northeast side of the building, and was pictured below in early October, covering roughly three-quarters of the area of the southern canopies. On the lower canopy, we can see the insulation and weather protection that is installed before the aluminum soffit as a buffer for the elements. 

Looking north as soffits are installed on the south canopies, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Red Mars

By the end of November, a few narrow strips of soffit were still waiting to be installed, which remains the case now in early December, suggesting that an interruption in the supply has kept the crew from completing that part of the project at this time. Still, finishing work continues to advance in other areas, like the installation of the official signage, identifying the building in both English and French in underscored silver lettering. 

The official signage emerges below the southern canopies, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Rascacielo

Moving into December, one of the project’s more curious elements finally emerged, the sculptural external volume referred to in documents as the architectural mast. Vaguely resembling a flagpole, the 89m structure is mounted to an articulation in the tower’s south elevation, and climbs 25m above the roof of the building. Adding an interesting visual embellishment to the otherwise reserved design, the mast is one of the defining features of the project, and will soon see the scaffolding removed at the roof level. 

The 89m architectural mast installed on the east elevation, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor ADRM

Inside the building’s four storey atrium, a warm glow greets the street with an atmosphere that feels particularly inviting in this cold time of year. Peering in through the glass, we can see that the yellow accent wall is now decorated with the photo montage that acknowledges the cultural history of the location, a site that was populated by the diverse peoples of Toronto in years past, most recently when St John’s Ward offered settlement and community for Toronto’s earliest immigrants until it was demolished for the adjacent New City Hall. 

Interior finishings can be seen through the glass of the 4-storey atrium, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Red Mars

While most of the current work has shifted to interior finishing, some crew remains outside, completing the landscaping that will activate the common public space outside the building. The building’s set back from the street, particularly on the south elevation, has allowed for the creation of a wide pedestrian space that will be decorated with greenery and trees. 

Looking west as landscaping work progresses on the south and east frontages, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Red Mars

With the various finishing efforts unfolding as planned, the building is on track to meet its targeted opening date of Spring 2023, at which time the Ontario Court of Justice will enjoy the fruits of high-design. 

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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UrbanToronto has a research service, UrbanToronto Pro, that provides comprehensive data on construction projects in the Greater Toronto Area—from proposal through to completion. We also offer Instant Reports, downloadable snapshots based on location, and a daily subscription newsletter, New Development Insider, that tracks projects from initial application.

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