Category Archives: The changing city skyline

Nicholas & FIVE condos making big visual impact on Yonge Street; 1 Bloor tower set to follow suit

north downtown Yonge Street

November 14 2013: Construction of FIVE Condos (left) and Nicholas Residences (center rear) is dramatically changing the landscape of north downtown Yonge Street. This is a view from the east side of Yonge just below Maitland Street, one block south of Wellesley Street.



Shifting landscape: Two condo tower construction projects are rapidly changing the look of Yonge Street’s west side, between College and Bloor Streets, while a third new building will soon make a dramatic impact on views up the east side of Yonge Street.

The steadily rising concrete frames for FIVE Condos and Nicholas Residences now dominate the views up Yonge from as far south as its intersection with Carlton and College Streets. Depending upon your particular vantage point along the 10-block stretch of what city planners call “north downtown Yonge,” FIVE and Nicholas already obscure or partially block from sight several skyscrapers in the Yorkville neighbourhood — including the 51-storey Manulife Centre tower, which has been a familiar landmark indicating the intersection of Bloor & Bay Streets since 1972.

But with a long way still to go before construction of FIVE and Nicholas is complete, it’s already obvious that both new buildings will exude an even more powerful presence on the landscape once they have attained their full height. As of this weekend, construction of Nicholas has reached the 27th level on the way to 35, with cladding and windows installed up to the 13th floor so far. Two blocks down the street, construction of FIVE Condos has climbed to the 16th storey — exactly one-third of its way to the building’s final 48 floors. Installation of that tower’s cladding has not yet begun.

Meanwhile, the One Bloor condo project is poised to begin an equally remarkable transformation of views up the east side of Yonge Street. Rising at the southeast corner of Yonge & Bloor Streets, One Bloor will ultimately top off at 75 floors, completely reshaping the Yorkville skyline and one of the country’s most famous crossroads in the process.


One Bloor condos

November 27 2013: Looking toward the One Bloor condo construction site from one block to the south, at the intersection of Yonge and Charles Streets.




Downtown skyline views from the Toronto Islands

The downtown Toronto skyline as seen from Ward's Island

A Ward’s Island view of the downtown Toronto skyline earlier this month


Pics and video: A lunchtime bikeride on the Toronto Islands earlier this month gave me a chance to check out how much the downtown skyline has changed in the one-year period since my last trip to the islands.

Although there are dozens and dozens of condo towers and several office highrises under construction in downtown Toronto, only a handful of projects have so far made a significant impact on the skyline views.

The southwest downtown core is now dominated by the two ÏCE Condominium towers which are still under construction on York Street, while the nearby Delta Hotel tower at Southcore Financial Centre on Bremner Boulevard also makes a big impact from some perspectives. 

Off to the west, the Library District Condominium tower is a noteworthy addition to the Concord CityPlace skyline; a year ago, only its construction crane was visible.

Over on the southeast side of the downtown core, The L Tower is the most eye-catching new building, with the water’s edge Residences of Pier 27 also commanding attention even though it’s only a midrise condominium project.  Much farther east, the Distillery District is easier to locate now that construction is drawing closer to completion on the Gooderham Tower.



South downtown skyscraper construction offers soaring backdrop for Toronto’s new aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada and tower construction projects  in Toronto's south downtown area

April 4 2013: Construction is proceeding on schedule for a summer opening of the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada (foreground), located on Bremner Boulevard at the foot of the CN Tower.  The new aquarium is one of eight different buildings seen at various stages of construction in this photo shot from the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the Rogers Centre. Rising behind the aquarium are, from left, The L Tower, the Delta Toronto Hotel and Bremner Tower office building at Southcore Financial Centre, the two cylindrical ÏCE Condos skyscrapers, and the two towers of the Infinity3 Condominiums. Click on the photo to view it in a larger format.



Winter building pics: March 2013

 My March 2013 album on Flickr features more than 500 photos showing dozens of downtown construction projects and building sites. Click once on the image above to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the actual album where you can view individual full-size photos with captions.



Frozen fingers: It’s only a few days into spring and I’m still sorting through hundreds of building and construction photos I took during the winter. What has struck me the most is how gloomy and grey the city looked most of the time. Sunny, clear days were few and far between — and when they came, it was usually too bitterly cold and windy for me to risk freezing my fingers by wandering around with my camera.

I did manage a few long photo walks, though, and have been gradually posting the pics in albums on’s Flickr photostream.  Above is a link to my fourth winter photo album, March 2013.




Winter building pics: January 2013

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.


Winter building pics: December 2012

Above is a link to my December 2012 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 and see full-size photos and captions.


Toronto skyline views

Toronto skyline

September 11 2012: A view of the downtown Toronto skyline, as seen from Ward’s Island in the Toronto Islands. Click on the photo to view a larger image.


Summer skyline:  As the “Frankenstorm” from Hurricane Sandy drenches the city with windy wet weather, I’ve been missing the opportunity to take long relaxing rides on my bike to see the downtown skyline from different perspectives.

Since it was too rainy for riding and photography this weekend, I decided to collect some of the skyline photos I shot during the summer, and compile them into an online album. Entitled Toronto Skyline Views 2012, the album can be viewed on’s Facebook page. It features dozens of skyline pics from a variety of vantage points, including the Toronto Islands, the island ferries, Tommy Thompson Park, Ontario Place, and condo balconies near Jarvis & Carlton Streets.



Topping-off time for The L Tower

The L Tower October 4 2012

The L Tower viewed from the west on Front Street near University Avenue


The L Tower

A construction crew pours concrete on the top level of The L Tower, 58 storeys above Yonge Street & The Esplanade. Click on the picture to view a larger image.


The L Tower October 4 2012

 The upper levels appear to recede in this view of The L Tower ‘s north side


The L Tower October 4 2012

Looking up The L Tower’s northwest corner, from Yonge Street


Top-off time:  The L Tower marks a construction milestone this afternoon with a topping-off ceremony that will include an exciting aerial performance by a 5-member troupe from Vancouver’s Aeriosa Dance Society on the skyscraper’s north side.

Word is that the building’s internationally renowned architect, Daniel Libeskind, will be in the city to participate in the celebrations. The L Tower is Libeskind’s second major building design in Toronto in the past decade; his previous landmark, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), opened during the summer of 2007.



Through another lens: Looking north from FCP

This photo by Colin Gruchy captures the great view from an office on the 41st floor of First Canadian Place on September 20 2012. Click on the photo to view a larger-size image.


Great view: It’s a good thing I don’t work on a high floor in an office tower in the downtown core — I would probably spend practically all of my time looking at buildings and watching construction activity. Especially if I sat near a window with a north view like the one in the photo above that Colin Gruchy shot two days ago.

It’s a great vantage point for keeping track of at least four major construction projects currently underway in the downtown core: the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization at City Hall; the MaRS Centre Phase 2 tower at College Street and University Avenue (slightly visible to the upper left of City Hall’s west tower); the Motion on Bay Street apartment highrise directly behind City Hall’s east tower; and the Aura condo skyscraper to the northeast of that, at Yonge & Gerrard. And in just a couple of years’ time, construction of the 54-storey INDX condominium tower, which will be built on a site bounded by Richmond, Sheppard and Temperance Streets, will dominate the foreground of this particular view.

Got a good Toronto construction or building photo you’d like to share? Drop me a line at: [email protected]


Trump taking a long time to P above Toronto

Trump Tower Toronto

 The first two letters of the TRUMP logo were installed atop the north side of the 65-storey, 900-foot Trump International Hotel + Tower Toronto by the end of May …


Trump Toronto Tower

… but as of the 2012 Labour Day Weekend, the P still wasn’t in place because construction hasn’t yet finished on the tower’s distinctive “quarter onion” and spire


 Waiting for a big P: When I last posted photos of the Trump International Hotel + Tower Toronto on June 8 2012, I wrote that installation of the giant Trump logo near the top of the building’s north side “signals that completion of exterior construction isn’t far off.”

I was wrong.

Although the hotel has been open for business since early this year, work on the exterior upper reaches of the 900-foot, 65-storey tower still isn’t complete. In particular, the P hasn’t been added to the rest of the Trump logo because crews are still finishing work on the signature “quarter onion” and spire segments of the building that rise from the tower’s northwest corner.

Several times on August 31, I saw construction workers climbing to and from the “crow’s nest” on the spire, so I know the contractors are hurrying to complete the building.

But even though the full Trump logo isn’t yet making its mark on the city skyline, the tower’s illuminated spire is. For several weeks in June, downtown residents saw test-runs of the spire’s lighting system, which reminded many Torontonians of the lightsabers in the Star Wars movies. Although the June testing showed the system’s multicolour capabilities, the spire has emitted a only a pale pink glow above the Financial District since then.

Fingers crossed that the logo will be completely installed by Thanksgiving.


ÏCE and Infinity3 condo tower construction already making a significant visual impact on city skyline

ICE Condos and Infinity3 Condos

May 10 2012: South view from Bremner Boulevard of construction progress on the two ÏCE Condo towers, left and center, and the Infinity3 Condominiums, right


Changing views: Although construction of two neighbouring condo projects near the CN Tower still has a long ways to go before completion, it’s fast becoming apparent just how significantly the new towers will change the look of the city skyline.

The side-by-side ÏCE Condos and Infinity3 Condominiums rising on the north side of the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard, between York and Lower Simcoe Streets, are already having a huge impact on sightlines and views in the South Financial District and Harbourfront areas. And that’s even though construction of the east ÏCE condo tower has so far climbed less than one-tenth of its ultimate 67-storey height, while the west ÏCE tower is just slightly more than one-third of its way to 57 floors. The main Infinity3 tower, meanwhile, is more than 20 floors high on its way to 34.



In Photos: Aura at College Park

Aura Condos at College Park Toronto

May 2 2012: A screenshot from the construction webcam for the Aura condo tower at College Park. The developer will need to adjust its camera angle soon; otherwise, construction of what will be the city’s tallest condo tower will quickly climb out of view.


Aura Condos at College Park Toronto

April 29 2012: Aura Condos at College Park construction viewed from the southeast corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets.


On the rise: “What’s taking Aura so long?” That’s a question I’ve been asked a number of times recently by people who have been waiting, obviously rather impatiently, for the Aura condo tower at College Park to begin making its mark on the downtown skyline. They won’t have to wait much longer.

Aura already has a profound presence when viewed from ground level along parts of Yonge and Gerrard Streets, and in a few short weeks will become more visible over a wider area as it starts rising above some of its highrise neighbours. By June, I will probably be able to watch the construction from the comfort of my condo six blocks away to the northeast; right now, the orange and white cranes atop Aura are competing for my attention with the two cranes on the SickKids Centre for Research and Learning Tower two blocks to their southwest.



Public meeting Tuesday for Ten York condo plan


illustrations of proposed Ten York condo tower Toronto

Images from developer Tridel’s website show the 75-storey Ten York condo tower that has been proposed for a former parking lot site wedged between Lake Shore Boulevard, the Gardiner Expressway, Harbour Street & York Street


Tight squeeze: A community consultation Tuesday evening will let members of the public tell city planners what they think of Ten York, the proposed 75-storey condo tower that made national headlines when the project was unveiled late last fall.

The public session starts with a 6.30 p.m. open house followed by a meeting from 7 to 9 p.m. at the PawsWay Toronto Centre at 245 Queen’s Quay West.

Typical community consultations include a brief presentation during which a representative for a developer (often, the building architect) describes highlights of a highrise condo proposal and shows slides illustrating the shadow impacts the tower is expected to have on its neighbourhood. That’s usually followed by a comment, question and answer period chaired by the city planner in charge of the file. City planners consider community input when making final recommendations on actions Toronto City Council should take with respect to planning applications.



Hotel open, but work continues atop Trump Tower

Trump International Hotel + Tower Toronto

March 15 2012: How the top of the Trump International Hotel + Tower appeared in this zoom view from my balcony this morning …


Toronto Financial District skyline

… and how it appeared in this wider view of the Financial District skyline


Nearly there: It has been six weeks since the hotel section of the Trump International Hotel + Tower Toronto held its “soft” opening, but work on the exterior of the skyscraper’s uppermost levels still isn’t finished. But it’s getting there.

The Trump Hotel Toronto began receiving guests on January 31 even though considerable work remained to be done on the building’s exterior, and particularly on the condo section of the 65-storey tower. But the hotel’s clientele have probably been too busy relaxing in their spacious, swanky suites, or savouring the $48 veal chops in the Trump’s Stock Restaurant & Bar, to even notice that construction is continuing. (Globe and Mail restaurant critic Joanne Kates reviewed the veal — and other menu items — in a March 2 2012 column, in case you’re interested in reading how Stock’s appetizers “taste as unexciting as they sound, and the mains are close behind.”)



Shock and awe as Aura ascends

Aura condos at College Park

March 6 2012: A giant canopy being built above the Yonge Street sidewalk will protect pedestrians as construction of the 78-storey Aura condo tower proceeds


More photos and information on the next page.