The intersection of Yonge and Queen in downtown Toronto is currently one of the most notorious construction nightmares in the city. The full stretch of Queen Street between Bay and Victoria is closed for the construction of Ontario Line 3 until at least 2027, causing annoyances for commuters and pedestrians alike. However, if you've been by this intersection lately, you may have noticed amid the chaos the disappearance of some scaffolding and the emergence of Toronto's newest restored heritage gem. On the northwest corner of Queen and Yonge, 2 Queen West is nearing completion and has now revealed its restored heritage facade, breathing new life into the nearly 130-year-old building.

View of 2 Queen West, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

The building at 2 Queen West has a long history of makeovers. First built in 1895, it was originally home to the Philip Jamieson Clothing Company, whose namesake now graces the facade again along the original gilded signage band. The building it is perhaps best known though for its longest tenant, Woolworth's, whose flagship location occupied the building for nearly seven decades from 1913 until it closed for good in the 1980s. During that time, it underwent several rounds of unsympathetic renovations, at one point having the entire building wrapped in an aluminum grille facade in the 1960s. That facade was stripped away around 1985 under new ownership, partially revealing the heritage brick beneath, while metal panels were installed over a portion of the building. It is this renovation that remained when work began on the current project in 2018.

The building as it originally appeared in 1897, image courtesy of the Toronto Public Library.

The building as it appeared in 2016, image by Forum contributor G.L.17.

The renovation is led by owners Cadillac Fairview, and is designed by Zeidler Architecture with ERA Architects. The project saw the building be completely gutted, with the heritage facade recreated and an addition of three floors constructed on top, bringing its total height to seven storeys. Once occupied, it will be home to retail space at its base, office spaces on the upper floors, and a restaurant on the top floor with an outdoor terrace overlooking Yonge and Queen.

Close-up of the corner entrance, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

The facade is actually largely a recreation of the original building. When workers stripped away the metal panelling and inspected the building up close, they realized that there was very little of the existing brick that could be salvaged. The project team painstakingly measured each different type of brick, stone, and terracotta piece on the building in order to recreate an exact match for the new masonry. In total, the new facade is built of over 40,000 replica masonry units that were custom made for the project.

View of the east facade, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

Recent photographs taken by our Forum contributors have revealed details of the meticulously restored facade. 

The brick and terracotta details of the facade have been restored, replacing the aged and grime-covered masonry with replicas that make it look new again.

Close-up of the facade at night, image by Forum contributor emphurent.

The wood windows have also been restored, repaired, and replaced, with as much as the original material retained as possible. The original curved glass was also kept and reinstalled in the windows.

Close-up detail of the arched windows and metal cornice, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

At the base of the building, work is still ongoing to restore the large store windows, complete with the original signage band running along the top. A flagship tenant for the ground floor retail space has not yet been named.

View of the base of the building, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

At the top of the building, the new glazed addition sits neatly on the heritage facade, stepped back and tiered so as to allow the volume of the original building to be read as it was intended. The metal cornice along the top of the heritage facade has been recreated based on old photographs.

Close-up of the three-storey addition on top, image by Forum contributor Red Mars.

The project is inching toward completion and soon occupancy will begin as construction crews clean up and clear the site. UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database files, 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:  LiveRoof Ontario Inc, Walters Group, Zeidler Architecture