Shimmer and shine: When SickKids Hospital commenced construction of its Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning three years ago, the project website promised that the $400 million building would become an “architectural landmark” as well as a “beacon” that would attract the “best and brightest child health professionals” from around the world.
With construction nearly wrapped up and the building set to open on September 17, it’s now clear that the project’s designers — Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with HDR Architecture — have delivered the splendidly-designed facility that executives at the world-famous children’s hospital could only dream of when they began planning the project more than a decade ago.
It’s also obvious that the Peter Gilgan Centre has become the luminous beacon that was pledged for Toronto’s Discovery District — in more ways than one. Standing 22 storeys tall, the turquoise glass tower shimmers and shines at the corner of Bay and Elm Streets, drawing attention for blocks in every direction. It will bring together under one roof 2,000 scientists who have been scattered in six different locations downtown. And once they’ve settled into their bright, airy labs and cheerful meeting spaces, they will get their turn to shine, developing new ideas and sharing research information that will transform the way children’s health care is provided.
The Centre’s research and education professionals, who will begin moving in later this month, could not have asked for a more inspiring and uplifting work environment.
September 11 2013: Sign installation on the east side of the tower. The Centre is named for lead donor Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes.
September 11 2013: A crew continues work on the SickKids logo being installed near the upper right corner of the building’s south face
Above is a link to my February 2013 Flickr album of building and construction photos I shot during walks in the downtown area. Click once on the image to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the album directly on Flickr and see full-size photos and captions.
Above is a link to my January 2013 Flickr album of building and construction photos I shot during walks in the downtown area. Click once on the image to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the album directly on Flickr and see full-size photos and captions.
Cranes rise above the MaRS Centre Phase 2 tower construction site (left) in this sunset photo I shot from my balcony yesterday. Click on the photo to view a larger image.
MaRS aglow: At sunset, it’s easy to spot the MaRS Centre Phase 2 tower from my west-facing balcony — its three construction cranes stand in stark silhouette above the exposed concrete skeleton of the building’s upper floors. The building frame won’t be visible much longer, though, since installation of windows and glass cladding is proceeding quickly on the 21-storey tower, which topped off in August. Once the highrise is fully glassed in, it will be interesting to watch the various ways in which the tower reflects the sunset at different times of year.
Of course, the building looks completely different from a ground-level perspective near the College Street/University Avenue intersection — but the way the sun strikes the tower is equally dramatic. On a clear day, the glint of sunshine off the tower’s west facade is almost blinding to passersby glancing up at the building from University Avenue.
… with a ceremony celebrating the final concrete pour for the 21-storey tower, seen here in a screen capture from a SickKids video of the event
SickKids President and CEO Mary Jo Haddad pours the final buckle of concrete
Topped off: A new Bay Street building landmark has celebrated a construction milestone with a topping off ceremony to commemorate the final concrete pour on the 21-floor structure.
The SickKids Centre for Research and Learning reached its highest point of construction last Thursday afternoon, exactly two years after construction commenced on the $400 million, 750,000-square-foot building that will house laboratory and meeting spaces for more than 2,000 scientists, trainees and children’s health research staff.
One of the three cranes atop the MaRS Centre Phase 2 construction site casts multiple reflections in the curved glass facade of the Ontario Power Generation building at the southwest corner of University Avenue and College Street
Southbound motorists and pedestrians approaching University Avenue from Queen’s Park Crescent can see intriguing reflections of the MaRS Centre construction on the OPG headquarters to their right …
… and get a great view of the actual construction site to their left, as seen here last month in a photo shot from the median at the foot of Queen’s Park Crescent
Mirror images: Three construction cranes are helping to build the MaRS Centre Phase 2 tower at the southeast corner of University Avenue and College Street. But from certain perspectives at street level, fascinating reflections on the glass facade of the Ontario Power Generation building across the street suggest there are dozens more cranes working the project.
Record gift: The head of the biggest home building company in Canada has donated a whopping $40 million to what will become the country’s biggest highrise research facility.
The gift from Peter Gilgan, the founder, president and CEO of Mattamy Homes, was announced publicly on Wednesday. The donation will support construction and operating costs for the 21-storey, $400 million Centre currently under construction at the northwest corner of Bay and Elm Streets.
February 13 2012: On the south side of Elm Street across from the SickKids Tower, renovation work continues on the 3-storey brick building at 650 Bay Street …
… where a soup, salad and sandwich café called Sliced is expected to open soon on the ground floor’s freshly-refurbished north side …
… while renovation is ongoing to ready the south side for another business that has leased the premises. A boutique hotel will occupy the upper levels.
Two corners, two projects: While just about everybody in the city keeps talking about all the condo towers rising on the skyline, two projects at the intersection of Bay & Elm Streets show that Toronto’s building boom extends far beyond residential building construction.
February 6 2012: The Aura condo tower has so far climbed six floors above its mammoth podium, seen here from the northwest corner of the 3-acre park sheltered by the office & residential towers at the College Park complex
February 9 2012: The Aura podium on the southeast corner of Yonge & Gerrard Streets will contain 190,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants and services
February 6 2012: Construction of the MaRS Centre Phase 2 building at College Street and University Avenue reached the sixth floor this month
Aura ascends, MaRS rises: Construction has climbed past the sixth-floor point at two different projects that will establish landmark new buildings and radically change the appearance of two busy intersections in the downtown core.
Aura condos at College Park
The 3-level podium for the Aura condo tower has been turning heads at the intersection of Yonge & Gerrard Streets since construction of the mammoth structure reached street level nearly a year ago. With 6 of Aura’s 75 condo floors now constructed, the building has begun to prominently assert its presence for several blocks in each direction, giving city residents and visitors an early hint of the dramatic impact the country’s tallest residential tower will have on the Toronto skyline.
November 30 2011: Overlooking the MaRS Centre Phase 2 construction site at the corner of University & College on a rainy Wednesday morning
November 30 2011: Workers walk on rebar two levels above University Avenue
November 30 2011: Workers assemble a form to prepare for a concrete pour
MaRS rising: People passing through the intersection of University Avenue and College Street have been able to get glimpses of life on MaRS, now that construction of the MaRS Centre Phase 2 building has risen above hoarding around the southeast corner site.
Since PCL resumed construction on the project in August after a nearly 3-year-long hiatus, workers have poured concrete for most of the second level, and have been making fast progress as they prepare to add the third floor of what will ultimately be a 20-storey tower.
Below are two building renderings by B + H Architects, followed by a photo comparing the mothballed construction site — as it appeared after a snowstorm in January — to the progress that had been reached as of this morning. Those pics are followed by a series of photos tracking construction progress since early September.
November 30 2011: The property sat vacant for nearly three years before building resumed this past summer. Three cranes and dozens of construction workers are now active on the site.
November 30 2011: Support columns for the 3rd level soar above University Ave.
November 30 2011: Workers assemble steel bars as another floor takes shape
November 25 2011: Phase 2 construction viewed from the southwest, from the University Avenue median
November 25 2011: A view of two of the three cranes operating on the site
November 25 2011: The south side of the building, next to Toronto General Hospital. Construction in the southeast corner has reached the third floor.
November 25 2011: The second level and support columns for the third floor seen looking northeast from the University Avenue median
November 25 2011: The view through the construction entrance at the site’s southwest corner off University Avenue
November 25 2011: The second level takes shape above hoarding along the University Avenue sidewalk
November 25 2011: Another construction entrance off University Avenue
November 25 2011: Construction progress near the northwest corner of the site
November 25 2011: Looking southeast from the University Avenue median toward the Toronto General Hospital building next to Phase 2
November 25 2011: Progress at the northwest corner of the building
November 25 2011: Phase 2 construction progress viewed the University Avenue median on the north side of College Street
October 29 2011: Phase 2 construction is more visible to passersby as the building begins to rise above the hoarding
October 29 2011: Building activity above a University Avenue entrance
October 29 2011: The main floor takes shape near the southwest corner of the site, along University Avenue
October 29 2011: Phase 2 viewed from the University Avenue median, looking northeast. The Burano condo, under construction three blocks away on Bay Street, is visible behind the crane.
October 29 2011: Construction progress at the northeast corner, viewed from the north side of College Street
September 3 2011: Looking northeast from the intersection of Gerrard Street & University Avenue, soon after work resumed and cranes were re-installed
September 3 2011: Construction resumed in August, and is expected to finish sometime in 2013. The building will have direct links to the subway, Toronto General Hospital and the rest of the MaRS Centre
From the MaRS Discovery District website, this rendering by B + H Architects suggests how the 20-storey Phase 2 building will appear to pedestrians at the southeast corner of College Street and University Avenue …
… while this photo from July 27 2011 shows how the building location currently looks when viewed from the northwest corner of the intersection
MaRS relaunch coming: In a sure sign that Toronto is putting the global economic meltdown firmly in the past, construction work will resume next month on the MaRS Discovery District‘s long-awaited Phase 2 building at the southeast corner of College Street and University Avenue. With 770,000 square feet of rentable building space, the tower will more than double the size of the downtown innovation facility to 1.5 million square feet, “creating Canada’s largest science, technology and research centre,” the MaRS Centre Phase 2 webpage states.
The 20-storey tower designed by B + H Architects “will be a visual and architectural marvel,” the webpage adds, noting that the building will feature “avant-garde glass design” with “thermally broken high-performance unitized aluminum and double-glazed curtain wall with laminated glass accent fins.” Inside those glass walls will be “state-of-the-art laboratory and office space” boasting “advanced communications and information technology capabilities.” About 60% of the space will be laboratories, with offices occupying the rest.
The Centre will offer a direct connection to Toronto General Hospital next door, as well as to the TTC’s Queen’s Park subway station. An atrium with a 62-foot-high glazed skylight, stone flooring, and metal mesh and terracotta walls will link it to the adjacent MaRS heritage building and towers while, below ground, the Centre will have a two-level parking garage with dedicated parking spots and showers for cyclists.
The project will cost approximately $344.5 million, create 4,000 construction jobs, and more than double the number of people working at the MaRS Centre — from 2,300 now to 5,000. Construction is expected to commence in mid-August, with completion anticipated for September 2013. The provincial Crown corporation Infrastructure Ontario is giving MaRS a $230 million fully repayable loan to build its new facility, while the balance of the project cost is being borne by MaRS and its strategic partner Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., “the world’s leading life science developer and owner.” Leases have been signed with two key tenants: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, which already has space in the South MaRS tower, and Public Health Ontario, which will move its central lab into the premises.
The return of construction cranes and workers to the site next month will cheer architecture and building buffs who’ve been anxious to see work resume on the Phase 2 tower. Construction had reached ground level when the global economic crisis struck in 2008, bringing work on the tower to a complete halt by November of that year. Many building enthusiasts were worried that completion of the partly-built structure could be delayed indefinitely, like the former Bay Adelaide Centre “stump” that sat as an eyesore in Toronto’s Financial District for 15 years. Things appeared hopeful in January when an online news story suggested that an announcement about a construction restart might be made sometime during the winter (for more details about that revelation, see my February 17 2011 post). Although the announcement took several months longer than expected, architecture afficionados will be thrilled to watch once again when work continues on a new landmark building at the College & University corner.
This rendering by B + H Architects appears on the MaRS Discovery District website. It suggests how the Phase 2 building could look at night when viewed from the University of Toronto campus to the northwest …
… while this photo shows how the Phase 2 building location looked yesterday when viewed from the U of T campus
July 27 2011: A view of the building site, looking southeast from U of T
West view from along Shuter Street of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute (right) and the tubular pedestrian bridge linking it to St. Michael’s Hospital. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gyde/Diamond and Schmitt Architects.
Centre celebration:St Michael’s Hospital yesterday celebrated the official opening of its new Keenan Research Centre and Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre — facilities collectively known as the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. The hospital says the Centres “are among the first in the world — and the only ones in Toronto — specifically designed to bring together researchers, educators and clinicians to brainstorm ideas across professions and to take best practices and research discoveries to patient bedsides faster.”
The Keenan Research Centre occupies 25,200 square metres (271,300 square feet) with three floors of flexible, open concept wet laboratories and two floors for dry lab study in a wide range of medical research programs. 400 research staff will work there. The building’s education component includes a library, classroom and meeting facilities. These are linked by multi-level lounges that sit above Victoria Lane and are connected by an elegant wishbone staircase, providing a focal point for informal encounters. A 200-seat raked auditorium also serves as a conference centre and lecture hall.
The nine-storey building was designed by Jack Diamond, a principal with Toronto’s Diamond and Schmitt Architects. It occupies the north side of Shuter Street between Victoria and Bond Streets, and is connected to St Michael’s Hospital by a 21-meter tubular glass pedestrian bridge.
A Diamond and Schmitt press release says design highlights of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute building “include a glass curtainwall, which allows natural light to penetrate deep into the building. This serves not only to create an open and engaging workspace but also a visibly accessible connection into the world of medical research for the community at large. Solar shading placed horizontally on the south façade and vertically on the west façade minimizes heat gain and is made of glass instead of the typical metal shades so as not to impede the views to landmark buildings such as St. Michael’s Cathedral and Massey Hall. Other sustainable features include energy recovery systems on air handling units, reflective roofing, light sensors and a high use of recycled content in materials.”
April 30 2011: Stacks of scaffolding rise more than two storeys high at the SickKids Research & Learning Tower construction site
April 30 2011: A construction worker walks the plank in a thicket of scaffolding at the SickKids Research & Learning Tower construction site
Going from ground to third floor: Since they reached street grade 46 days ago, crews at the SickKids Research & Learning Tower have maintained a steady pace of above-ground construction milestones. On April 19, they completed the placement of the ground floor slab, along with vertical walls and columns between there and the second floor. Two weeks ago, they finished pouring the second level concrete floor slab, and were well on their way to erecting formwork, reinforcing steel and concrete for the vertical walls and columns between the second and third floors. Meanwhile, progress continues on the southwest corner of the building site, where the SickKids Tower first began noticeably taking shape above Elm Street. About 14 days ago, the workers completed concrete placement for the second floor auditorium, then finished installing the acoustical floating floor. Plenty of activity has been happening where the sun doesn’t shine, too. The interior masonry walls of the P3 level were completed two weeks ago, with installation of mechanical and electrical rough-ins progressing well. Interior masonry walls were 75% complete on P2, while on P1 the mechanical and electrical overhead rough-ins were well underway and work on the interior masonry walls was beginning. But it’s above ground, of course, where the work is really starting to make an impact on the surrounding streetscape. With construction approaching the third floor, the building activity is obvious to passersby on Walton, Bay and Elm Streets, and is noticeable from a block away in each direction. Soon, the tower will start blocking some sightlines, including views of the CN Tower from the Bay & Gerrard area. Below is a construction webcam photo showing building activity at the Tower site this afternoon, along with photos I snapped at the beginning and the end of April.
May 3 2011: SickKids Research & Learning Tower webcam view of construction
April 8 2011: Forms for the second floor appear above the Bay Street hoarding
April 8 2011: North view of the tower site from the corner of Bay & Elm Street
April 8 2011: Forms are in place for the concrete pour for the second floor
April 30 2011: Second floor construction viewed from Walton Street looking south
April 30 2011: Construction progress viewed from the northeast corner of Bay & Walton Streets. Won’t be long before the tower blocks this view of the CN Tower.
April 30 2011: Vertical forms rise from the second floor of the tower, viewed here from the east side of Bay Street just below Walton Street
April 30 2011: West view of the site from the opposite side of Bay Street
April 30 2011: Construction view from the southeast corner of Bay & Elm Streets
April 30 2011: Elm Street view of stacks of scaffolding rising on the site
April 30 2011: Soon, the construction will block Elm Street views of the LuCliff tower at Bay & Gerrard Street (rear) and the College Park condo towers at 777 Bay Street (right rear)
April 30 2011: A construction worker is barely visible as he stands in one of the stacks of scaffolding at the southeast corner of the Tower construction site
April 30 2011: North view of the construction site from Elm Street
April 30 2011: The stacks of scaffolding viewed from Elm Street
April 30 2011: Elm Street view of the auditorium construction at the southwest corner of the SickKids Tower site
April 30 2011: Auditorium construction at the tower’s southwest corner
April 30 2011: Elm Street view of the auditorium construction progress
April 30 2011: Looking up from Elm Street at the southwest side of the building
April 30 2011: Looking east along Elm Street at the tower’s ground level
April 30 2011: Looking northeast on Elm Street toward Bay Street
April 30 2011: The SickKids Tower viewed from the southwest corner of Bay & Elizabeth Streets
Snow day: The calendar says it’s spring, but Toronto is getting another blast of winter with 5 cm. of snow falling throughout the day today. This photo, looking north from Queen Street on another snowy day earlier this winter, shows three major building sites on Bay Street. The orange construction crane is building the Sick Kids Research & Learning Tower at Elm Street; the crane in the middle of the photo is atop the Burano condo tower between Grenville and Grosvenor Streets; and the crane at the rear of the picture, on the east side of Bay, is atop the Four Seasons Toronto hotel and condo tower.
Snow motion: This photo was taken on the same day as the one above, a few blocks further north up Bay Street. It shows the Motion on Bay highrise apartment building construction site at left, along with the Sick Kids and Burano towers to the north.
Ice view: This was a view this afternoon of the Sick Kids Research and Learning Tower construction site from an ice-covered webcam high above the building.
Snowy Aura: Although it’s not on Bay Street itself, Aura condos is part of the College Park complex that occupies the entire eastern block of Bay between Gerrard and College Streets. This is a webcam view of the Aura condos construction site earlier this afternoon.
An aerial view from the SickKids Research and Learning Tower webcam shows the construction site under a light blanket of snow this afternoon
Making grade: Roughly half of the foundation for the SickKids Research and Learning Tower is virtually at street level on the southern half of the construction site at Bay and Elm Streets. The north half is taking shape quickly, and isn’t far behind. Shouldn’t be long before the 21-storey tower starts to rise above the bright blue and white hoarding that protects pedestrians passing the construction site on the west sidewalk along Bay Street. Below are some construction progress photos from yesterday morning.
Tower construction site viewed from Elm Street, east of Bay Street
Main floor construction forms have reached ground level
Looking north from a security fence at the Elm Street construction entrance
The gap should be closed early this week when work resumes
Looking north from corner of Elm & Bay Streets
Looking northwest from corner of Bay & Elm Streets
Looking northwest from corner of Bay & Elm Streets
A glimpse of the first underground level, from the corner of Bay & Elm Street
Looking northwest from corner of Bay & Elm Street
Looking northwest from corner of Bay & Elm Street
Looking west through a window in the hoarding along Bay Street
More foundation work remains to be done at the north end of the site
Walton Street view of progress on the north half of the foundation
Columns for west wing of tower visible above the hoarding along Bay Street
Construction site viewed from southeast corner of Bay and Elm Streets