After over a decade of dreaming and planning, the ceremonial start of construction of Forma was celebrated today at what was likely one of the most anticipated ground breaking events in recent memory. Closing Ed Mirvish Way to traffic for the morning, the event was attended by about a hundred people, including the extensive project team from Great Gulf, Dream Unlimited, Westdale Properties, and was highlighted by a speech from Frank Gehry himself, before the shovels where thrust into ceremonial ground to officially mark the start of the historic project. 

Gehry reflected on his childhood in Toronto in his speech at the event, image by Matias Bessai

First to take the podium was Ausma Malik, Councillor of Toronto’s Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York, within which is the Forma site. Malik commended the effort made by the development team to be inclusive towards community voices during the refinement of the proposal, resulting in the creation of a collection of community spaces that define the project’s non-residential programming. 

“My deep belief is that we can work together to build a city where everyone belongs,” she said. “These community benefits serve as a testament to our commitment to create a development that not only adds to the built city, but also enriches the lives of community members that call Toronto home.”

Malik’s statement was followed by words from Westdale Properties COO Mitchell Cohen, who reflected on fond memories working with Gehry to bring the project to life, before inviting Gehry to take the podium. 


Taking a moment to credit the development team’s belief in his vision, Gehry expressed that they have “joined in to build a work of art. I think everybody feels that that’s what we’re doing,” he said, “and it’s very special.”

Recounting how he came to know David Mirvish through friends in the fine art space, Gehry discussed how Forma began years ago, and why it spoke to him. “[Mirvish] had these two wonderful theatres, he had King Street where I used to hang out as a kid - my grandma’s house was on Beverley Street - and so I knew the neighbourhood and I still felt roots here,” he said. “I felt a part of it.”

Expressing his excitement for construction to finally be underway, Gehry ended his speech with a light-hearted look ahead towards the project’s eventual completion. “I can’t wait. I’m only 94 so I expect to be here,” he said. “I gotta be a hundred and two I think… so pray for me.” 

David Mirvish (Left) and Frank Gehry (right) mark the start of construction for Forma, image by Matias Bessai

Last to speak was Great Gulf co-owner Elly Reisman, who claimed that in his 45 year development career, this was his first time speaking in public about a project. With an aspirational building like Forma though, he simply had to weigh in. 

“This building is going to be the skyline of Toronto,” Reisman said, “ and not just because it’s a great piece of architecture, but because it’s a great piece of inspiration. We are going to inspire future developers and show them that we can do great things, and that we can hire great people to do it, because if you don’t start with greatness, you don’t end up with greatness.”

With that, Gehry and the leaders of the development team took their Forma-branded shovels and drove them into the pile of dirt. At that moment, Forma’s next journey officially began. 

Gehry and the leaders of the development team pose in front of East Tower site, image by Matias Bessai

Before the event was over, we had a chance to speak with Cohen personally to get a better sense of what this day means for the team and for the rest of Toronto. “I’m excited to see what the other developers are going to do,” he told us, “because we’ve definitely raised the bar. 

“Toronto deserves better architecture,” he continued. “The main reason we’ve been successful is that we are putting up an incredible building. We are changing the skyline, and other developers are going to take notice, and they’re going to follow.”

What Cohen also made clear though, is that there is still more work to be done. “For Great Gulf, Dream, and Westdale, this day means we’ve done our jobs, but we’re not finished,” he said. “Now we’ve got to build it. As you can see we’re in the ground, we’re working away, and we’re so proud.”

Mitchell Cohen speaks with Matias Bessai at the event, image by Craig White

With the east tower of Forma pulling in over $1 Billion in sales, the project’s construction over the next few years is unlikely to stray too far from people’s minds, especially as more and more of the landmark design begins to come together. Meanwhile, a timeline for the launch of the taller west tower has not been made public yet, but we suspect it could be coming any day. 

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.

* * *

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:  Adamson Associates Architects, Bousfields, Dream Unlimited, Great Gulf, Isotherm Engineering Ltd., Monir Precision Monitoring Inc., Platinum Condo Deals, PreCon Real Estate, RJC Engineers, RWDI Climate and Performance Engineering