UrbanToronto readers love to squabble about design details of new buildings… and they also like to make up their minds before buildings are actually complete. For 88 Queen, St Thomas Developments’ 51-storey, mixed-use project now gradually rising higher above Queen Street East between Church and Jarvis streets in Downtown Toronto, the cladding on the Hariri Pontarini Architects-designed complex has been the focus of some Forum squabbling. Its installation has been underway on the building’s podium for a few months now, and has received nothing but praise from our readers, but now that the cladding is also climbing the tower too, this section's mint-green spandrel panels have met with less enthusiasm. 

Looking northwest to 88 Queen as cladding progresses on the tower, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor Rascacielo

The cladding process at 88 Queen started in March with the installation of the curtainwall glazing system of the podium floors, which will house new office space. Along with the highly reflective glass here, the system also features striking bronze-coloured mullions and transoms that add both colour and texture to the building’s lower levels. In a city where most new towers have been specced with grey cladding and dull glass, the materiality here is a welcome change to the status quo. 

Bronze-tinted podium cladding has been well recieved since installation began in March, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor skycandy

Looking at the podium more closely, it’s the 'fin' details that really makes this cladding treatment shine. These elements — more verticals than horizontals — convey a highly machined quality, making formal references to the steel framing of brick-and-beam buildings, while other features like rounded corners and contrasting horizontal fins add more visual interest to the podium levels, slated to welcome office programming. 

Extruded fins and texture to the podium expression, making it stand out in among Downtown developments, image by Rohan Dawar

Arguably the highlight of it all, however, is the multi-level curved glazing feature wall that punctuates the podium’s south elevation fronting Queen Street East, and is situated above a pedestrian mews that extends through the building and north into the complex, highlighting it. The large recess in the elevation is more dramatically expressed by the curtainwall finish, elegantly captured in the image below. 

Looking up at the curve glass feature wall on the podium's south elevation, image by UrbanToronto Forum contributor canadaniel

With the podium finishes making progress in mid-April, the cladding installation crew began to move upward onto the tower floors, where further up, it still in the process of climbing towards its final height of 163.05m. As much as the podium cladding garnered praise from our readers though, they weren't so kind to the tower cladding. 

The mint green-tinted tower cladding has raised some eyebrows in the UrbanToronto Forum, image by UT Forum contributor Red Mars

The window wall cladding system here is made up of glazing framed by white powder coated aluminum frames, mullions and transoms, while spandrel panels beside the windows are coloured a pale mint-green. Generally, mint-green has not been a favourite on the UrbanToronto Forum overt the years, and a number of Forum contributors have expressed their confusion over the design choice here, likening the colour to toothpaste.

Most applications of mint-green on tower walls in this city have used it in conjunction with duller gray mullions, however, not the high-contrast white we see here, so the effect is different, and as the application of the cladding appears over more of the building, the final effect may find more fans.

Looking northeast to the tower with cladding approaching the 10th level above the podium, image by Rohan Dawar

The tower now stands at about two thirds of its final height, with more forming work still to come to bring the tower up to the 51-storey mark. With cladding work making steady progress as forming continues, interior finishing will be getting underway on the sealed-in floors, positioning the development well to meet its target of late-2024 occupancy. 

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.

Related Companies:  CCxA, Citi-Core Group, Figure3, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Kramer Design Associates Limited, L.A. Inc., McIntosh Perry, NAK Design Strategies, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., Rebar Enterprises Inc, Turner Fleischer Architects, Unilux HVAC Industries Inc.