No. 210 Simcoe condo tower’s blue-hued glass facade brightens its east Grange neighbourhood

No 210 Simcoe Residences

November 14 2013: A view of the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condo tower at the corner of St Patrick Street and Michael Sweet Avenue



No 210 Simcoe Residences

November 16 2013: As glass panels gradually get installed on higher floors, the colourful facade of the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condominium highrise is really starting to stand out in the Grange area of downtown Toronto. This is a view of the building from half a block to the south, on St Patrick Street.



Shades of blue: It’s amazing to see how one colourful new condo highrise can brighten an entire neighbourhood and quickly improve the look and feel of a dreary street in the process.

The eastern section of Toronto’s Grange neighbourhood — in particular, the area bordered by Dundas Street to the north, St Patrick Street to the west, Queen Street to the south, and University Avenue to the east — has long been a dull landscape of brown brick and beige concrete buildings. 

Michael Sweet Avenue, a 1-block-long cross street in the middle of this zone, was anything but sweet. Until recently, two unsightly parking garages extended the full length of the avenue between St Patrick and Simcoe Streets, one on each side of the road.

A 5-level above-ground parking garage still occupies the entire south side of the street. Though its concrete walls aren’t solid, it’s still a hulking, dark and drab-looking structure that looms large above adjacent sidewalks.

Two windowless walls used to dominate the north side of the street. One, its dirty white paint peeling off, was part of a narrow, low-rise parking facility built next to the sidewalk. Rising 54 meters behind it — roughly the height of a 14-storey residential highrise — was the solid textured wall of a Bell Canada utility building.  Thanks to the unattractive blank walls and the pair of parking garages, Michael Sweet Avenue has never been a pleasant pedestrian environment, but only a convenient way to move between Simcoe and St Patrick Streets. Functional, but ugly.

But all of that is quickly changing as construction continues on the No. 210 Residences on Simcoe condo building.


Michael Sweet Avenue Toronto

February 18 2011: The view from St Patrick Street, looking east along Michael Sweet Avenue. At left is the future 210 Simcoe condo site — at this time still a low-rise parking garage that extends all the way to Simcoe Street. Beside it is a Bell Canada building at 220 Simcoe. On the right is a 5-level above-ground parking garage that also extends all the way to Simcoe Street. Toronto City Hall, located just a few blocks to the east east, is visible in the background.




The Aura condo tower’s other height record

Aura condo tower Toronto

When nature calls, construction crews working on the upper levels of the Aura condo tower at College Park get to use this portable toilet …



Aura condo tower Toronto

… perched high above the northwest corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets — about 76 storeys above the ground when I shot this photo on November 14.



Sky-high porta potty: Construction isn’t finished yet, but the Aura condo building at College Park already ranks as the tallest residential tower in the country. It probably holds another record, too  — for having the highest outdoor toilet of any urban area in Canada.

As Aura has steadily climbed higher towards its final residential floorcount of 78 storeys, a porta potty has moved upward one new floor at a time as well, situated since May near the tower’s southeast corner.

But Aura isn’t the only downtown building site boasting sky-high outdoor toilet facilities for construction crews. The top-level porta potties on the two ÏCE Condominiums towers rising at 12 and 14 York Street have also reached dizzying heights as those buildings have ascended toward their final 57- and 67-storey floorcounts.


ICE Condo towers

September 4 2013: A view of the two ÏCE Condominiums towers on York Street, at which time construction was continuing on the mechanical penthouse levels for the 57-storey building at 12 York Street (left). Two outdoor porta potties are visible on the southeast corner of the 14 York Street condo (right) about 60 storeys above street level. That tower will top off at 67 floors.





New development application proposes 28-storey tower for controversial site at 81 Wellesley East

81 Wellesley Street East Toronto

November 22 2013: A rainy morning view of the vacant property at 81 Wellesley Street East in the Church-Wellesley Village …



81 Wellesley East Toronto

… where the City has posted this sign advising the public that a developer has applied to build a 28-storey residential tower on the site


New plan for Village site: A 28-storey residential tower with street-level retail space has been proposed for the Church-Wellesley Village site where a developer last year proposed building a 29-storey condo highrise in place of a Victorian-era mansion and coach house it had hastily demolished — much to the dismay and ire of neighbourhood residents.

The 182-suite, 95.7-meter-tall tower is proposed for 81 Wellesley Street East, former location of the Odette House mansion and coach house that for years had been occupied by Wellspring, a cancer support organization. Wellspring listed the property for sale when it decided to relocate to larger premises, and a small company called Icarus Developments acquired the site.


Odette House 81 Wellesley Street East

I shot this photo of the Odette House mansion at 81 Wellesley Street East on September 27 2011. The building, and a coach house behind it, were destroyed by the property’s new owner a little more than three months later.




The Yorkville Condominiums on the rise

The Yorkville Condominium

November 19 2013: A view of construction progress on The Yorkville Condominiums, rising at the corner of Davenport Road and McMurrich Street


Climbing higher: Reconstruction of the Davenport Road & Bay Street intersection isn’t the only distraction for motorists driving through Yorkville these days — construction of The Yorkville Condominiums tower is changing the look and feel of the landscape, too.

Work on the building’s concrete frame has passed the 10 floor mark, bringing the structure nearly one-third of the way to its 31-storey final floorcount. Even with completion still a long ways off, the building already exerts a strong presence on Davenport Road, and is drawing some attention away from The Florian, a recently-finished condominium right next door to the west.

A project of Lifetime Developments, The Yorkville Condominiums was designed by Toronto’s Wallman Architects. The 233-suite project includes tower suites as well as six luxury townhomes along the McMurrich Street side of the property. The building interiors have been designed by Tomas Pearce Interior Design Consulting Inc., and renderings of their work for The Yorkville can be viewed on the firm’s website.

More photos of The Yorkville can be seen on page 2 of this post and in The Yorkville Condominiums album on’s Flickr page.


The Yorkville Condominiums

This was how The Yorkville Condominiums site appeared only three years ago (November 1 2010, to be precise), before construction had commenced. The Florian condo tower next door was just halfway up, and several low-rise buildings still occupied The Yorkville’s prime corner site. Those buildings had formerly housed offices for the firm of Moriyama and Teshima Architects.




‘Condo Game’ documentary aims to shine light on the dark side of Toronto’s condo building boom

 A promotional clip for the documentary film The Condo Game, which will air on CBC-TV’s Doc Zone Thursday evening at 9 p.m. Update: You can now view the documentary at this link on the CBC website.


‘Sea of troubles’: If you have attended any of the community consultation meetings that Toronto city planners have held to gather public feedback on new condo development proposals, you’ve probably heard someone in the audience wonder why the city needs yet another residential highrise building, especially in the downtown core where scores of towers are currently under construction already.

The typical response, usually offered by someone representing a project developer, explains that more than 100,000 people a year move to the Greater Toronto Area, and points out that “those people have to live somewhere.” Consequently, more and more condos are being proposed — and built — simply to meet the burgeoning demand. Often, a city planner will chime in to clarify that only 20,000 of those people actually move into the City of Toronto itself — a significantly smaller number, but a sizeable population increase nonetheless. I’ve heard these statistics and explanations cited at more than a dozen public meetings I’ve attended during the past year alone.

But Toronto’s condominium building boom, which has been going strong for more than a decade, isn’t about finding homes for those newcomers and other people who want to live in the city because it’s such a desirable place to live, work and play. According to a documentary film that will be broadcast on CBC Television Thursday night,the condo boom actually is a game that’s being played, on a global scale, for people to make money. And as this “commodities” game continues to play on, there are growing indications that it’s “rigged” against the city and its citizens, and could pose serious and costly consequences for them in the years ahead, The Condo Game documentary suggests.

The Condo Game examines the forces at play behind the fastest moving condo market in North America – Toronto – and discovers that the glittering glass hides a sea of troubles,” says a film description on the CBC’s Doc Zone webpage.

As the film reveals a tide of construction deficiencies and maintenance problems that are sweeping Toronto toward a “tipping point,” “warning bells will be ringing loud and clear for cities and condo-owners across Canada,” the Doc Zone program description says.




Theatre Park condo rising higher above King St.

Theatre Park Condos

November 14 2013: The Theatre Park condo tower continues its upward climb next door to Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street West


Over 30: The Theatre Park condo tower continues to make its mark on the Entertainment District skyline as construction continues to climb higher above King Street West.

The concrete shell for the tower, which will boast 47 residential floors when finished, is roughly two-thirds of the way up. Work was underway on the 30th and 31st floors when I passed by late last week, with a new level being poured about every three to four days. Window and cladding installation is nearly complete on floors 7, 8 and 9.


Theatre Park condo

An artistic rendering of the 47-storey Theatre Park condo tower, designed by Toronto’s architectsAlliance.




Peter Street condo tower continues to climb as nearby Tableau Condos gradually gets its legs

Peter Street Condominiums construction progress

November 14 2013: Construction has reached the 12th floor of Peter Street Condominiums at the northeast corner of Adelaide and Peter Streets …



Tableau Condos construction progress

… while at the opposite end of the same block, the ground level of Tableau Condos continues to take shape at Peter & Richmond Streets. The two condo towers will bookend the 9-story office building that sits in the middle of the block at 111 Peter Street.


One block, two towers: The east side of Peter Street between Richmond and Adelaide Streets is changing dramatically as construction continues to progress on two new condominium towers that will also transform the Entertainment District skyline and streetscapes in the process.

At the southeast corner of Peter and Adelaide, work on the Peter Street Condominium tower has climbed above the 11th level, bringing the building nearly one-third of the way to its ultimate 40-storey floorcount.

Just a few meters north, at the corner of Peter and Richmond, construction is progressing on the ground level of Tableau Condos, a 36-storey tower that will stand atop a distinctive table-shaped podium supported by long, tall column “legs.”

Artistic illustrations of both buildings, along with construction progress photos shot this week, can be viewed on page 2 of this post.



First Gulf breaks ground for Globe & Mail Centre; 17-storey tower will bring jobs to SE downtown

Phillip Crawley, Bill Hatanaka, Brad Duguid, David Gerofsky, Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Pam McConnell

Globe and Mail Publisher Phillip Crawley, left, OpTrust President & CEO Bill Hatanaka, Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges & Universities Brad Duguid, First Gulf Corporation CEO David Gerofsky, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Toronto City Councillor Pam McConnell wield shiny silver shovels at the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the new Globe and Mail Centre at King & Berkeley Streets.



Construction kick-off: For the past half-dozen years, Toronto’s southeast downtown has been teeming with a variety of low-, mid- and high-rise residential construction projects that have been steadily transforming the city’s Old Town, Corktown, Distillery District and West Don Lands areas. A new 500,000 square foot office tower that First Gulf Corporation has started building at King, Berkeley and Front Streets will boost the region’s revitalization even more, bringing up to 5,000 jobs to the bustling area.

First Gulf Corporation recently broke ground on its 17-storey Globe and Mail Centre, named after the building’s anchor tenant, The Globe and Mail newspaper, which will relocate from its current premises near Front Street and Spadina Avenue on the west side of downtown. Local politicians joined executives from The Globe and Mail, plus First Gulf and its development partner OPTrust, in an October 30 ground-breaking ceremony that officially kicked off construction of the Centre. Completion of the tower is anticipated for 2016.

Designed by Toronto’s Diamond Schmitt Architects, The Globe and Mail Centre will cut  a unique profile on the southeast downtown skyline thanks to the building’s distinctive design of stacked, alternate-sized floor plates and large outdoor terrace spaces. Ten-foot-tall windows will let natural light penetrate deep into the building interior, while presenting occupants with expansive views of Toronto’s waterfront, Financial District, and adjacent residential neighbourhoods.


Gobe and Mail Centre building rendering

This artistic illustration, by Diamond Schmitt Architects, shows how the Globe & Mail Centre will look when viewed from the southeast along Berkeley Street




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.



SickKids tower brings brilliance to Bay Street

The SickKids Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at Bay & Elm Streets in downtown Toronto

SickKids Hospital will open its new Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning next week. The 21-floor tower, seen here on August 29 from the intersection of Bay and Edward Streets, was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with HDR Architecture.


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. 


SickKids Tower Toronto

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.



SickKids Tower Toronto

September 11 2013: A crew continues work on the SickKids logo being installed near the upper right corner of the building’s south face




5th floor work brings FIVE condo tower into view

Construction of FIVE Condos as seen from the east along Dundonald Street

 August 25 2013: Construction of the tower component of the FIVE Condos project at Yonge & St Joseph is now visible from the east along Dundonald Street.


Five floors up: Now that construction of FIVE Condos at Yonge and St Joseph Streets has reached the fifth floor, residents to the east are beginning to see how significantly the 48-storey tower will change the look and feel of their neighbourhood.

Until last week, it was difficult to monitor construction progress on the tower. Nestled behind a row of 3.5 to 4-storey heritage buildings along Yonge Street, as well as a 4-level heritage building facade propped up by giant steel supports on St Joseph Street, the construction could be seen at street level from only a couple of places. The Yonge & St Joseph intersection has been the best vantage spot, while the corner of Phipps Street and St Nicholas Street on the west side of the project site has offered an alternative but awkward view of the building activity.

However, construction is now visible to people approaching from Dundonald Street on the east side of Yonge. Work on the tower’s fifth floor can clearly be seen behind the row of historic buildings at 606 to 618 Yonge that will be restored as part of the redevelopment project. The tower is also starting to come into view from part of Wellesley Street one block to the south, and within just a few weeks should be obvious from the intersection of Yonge & Wellesley Streets as well as farther up and down Yonge.


FIVE Condos tower construction viewed from the east side of Yonge Street at St Joseph Street

August 30 2013: Construction of the FIVE Condos tower is now rising above the heritage buildings along Yonge Street  (left) and the retained facade of the Rawlinson Cartage warehouse building on St Joseph Street (right).




Theatre Park condo climbing higher on King Street

Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: Nearly 1/3 of its way to 47 storeys, the Theatre Park condo tower already dwarfs Toronto’s historic Royal Alexandra Theatre


Stealing the show: When I last posted photos of the Theatre Park condos back in the spring (see my April 18 2013 post), construction was just beginning to overtake the height of neighbouring heritage buildings, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

Three-quarters of the way through summer, the tower has now grown to about one-third of its ultimate 47-storey height. And as it continues climbing higher, Theatre Park undoubtedly will keep stealing attention from the 106-year-old landmark next door.

A project of Lamb Development Corp, Niche Development and Harhay Construction Management Ltd., the Theatre Park condominium tower was designed by architectsAlliance.

The slender point tower still has some suites available for purchase — at prices starting from $489,900, according to the condo website.

Below are several more construction progress photos I shot recently. The Theatre Park Condos album on TheTorontoBlog’s Flickr page contains several dozen photos of construction activity since December 2012.


Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: Tower podium viewed from the south side of King Street



Theatre Park condos

August 19 2013: Tower construction has climbed past the 16th level



Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: The Theatre Park tower continues to rise higher above the 106-year-old Royal Alexandra Theatre



Theatre Park condos Toronto

August 19 2013: The 66-storey Living Shangri-la Toronto hotel and condo tower (right) looks on as Theatre Park continues its climb above the Entertainment District




A peek at the Pier 27 waterfront condos

August 19 2013 view of the two buildings on the east side of the Pier 27 Condos site

August 19 2013: Most windows have been installed on the two east buildings at The Residences of Pier 27 condo site, but installation hasn’t yet begun on the SkyBridge linking them. The steel frames for the SkyBridge were built a year ago.


Waterfront wonders: Judging by the positive reaction of passersby, The Residences of Pier 27 prove that imaginatively-designed midrise condo buildings can be just as attention-grabbing and impressive as soaring 70-storey skyscrapers.

I don’t get down to the lakefront as often as I would like to monitor progress on the Pier 27 project, but each time I do I’m amazed by the number of people who are captivated by the construction.

In particular, passersby are fascinated with the 3-storey-tall SkyBridges than span the tops of the four towers currently under construction on Queen’s Quay Boulevard East, near the foot of Yonge Street.

“Wow” is the most common comment, while many people say how much they would “love” to live in one of the lake-facing SkyBridge penthouses and enjoy the fabulous views of the Toronto Islands. People I chat with — many of whom are tourists — think the building design is striking, and a refreshing change from the skyscraper condos that have been rising throughout the downtown area. I can’t recall any negative or highly critical comments about the buildings, which were designed by Peter Clewes of Toronto’s architectsAlliance.

The Residences of Pier 27 is a project of Cityzen Developments and Fernbrook Homes.

Below is a link to the Pier 27 Condos album from TheTorontoBlog’s Flickr page. It contains more than 60 recent pics of construction progress.


Above is a link to dozens of recent photos showing construction progress at The Residences of Pier 27 condo construction site. Click twice on the image to view the photos in full-size format.


Ripley’s Aquarium aims for September opening

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Construction work continues on the building exterior as Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada gears up for its September opening. Below is an artistic rendering that shows how the building will look once complete.


Ripley's Canada Aquarium rendering



Buy now: The wait to see Toronto’s newest tourist attraction is nearly over.

With its public opening set for September, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is now selling advance admission tickets on its website. The “pre-opening” passes, which cost $29.98 for adults and $19.98 for seniors over 65 and kids aged 4 to 13, will be valid for entry to the aquarium for up to one year after date of purchase.

The aquarium, which has been under construction since August 2011, has long targeted a “summer of 2013” opening. Thousands of Canadians eager to view sharks from the Dangerous Reef’s underwater tunnel had been hoping they could visit the aquarium during the summer school break, but construction didn’t finish in time. The precise opening date in September still hasn’t been announced.

Extensive information about the attraction is available on the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada website.

I posted construction photos in reports published on August 18 2011, August 17 2012, and October 14 2012.  Pictures showing how the aquarium site (on Bremner Boulevard at the base of the CN Tower) looked prior to construction can be viewed in my February 3 2011 report about the project.

More than 200 photos showing the various stages of construction during the past two years can be viewed in the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada album on TheTorontoBlog’s Facebook page.


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Work continues on the aquarium’s main entrance as well as the new pedestrian plaza it will share with the CN Tower.



Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: A view of the aquarium from the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the nearby Rogers Centre.



Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: “Pre-sale” tickets are available from the aquarium’s website


Phoenix mural brightens St James Town skyline

Phoenix mural on 200 Wellesley East

August 24 2013: It’s only partly complete, but the phoenix mural being painted on the south wall of 200 Wellesley Street East has already brightened the building — and the St James Town skyline. I shot this photo from three blocks to the southwest at the corner of Homewood Avenue and Maitland Place.


 Phoenix mural on 200 Wellesley Street East

August 24 2013: A view of the phoenix mural from one block east of the building at the intersection of Wellesley and Ontario Streets



Neighbourhood youth initiative: On September 24 2010, thousands of people in the northeast downtown area watched and worried as flames and smoke billowed from windows and a balcony at 200 Wellesley Street East, a Toronto Community Housing rental apartment highrise in St James Town. The intense six-alarm fire destroyed a 24th-floor apartment on the tower’s west side, and displaced more than a thousand building residents from their homes — some for many months.

The damage was repaired and residents returned to their apartments ages ago, but 200 Wellesley is once again attracting attention from people across northeast downtown. This time it’s a colourful giant mural, rather than smoke and flames, that has been turning heads and making people take a close look at the 43-year-old building.

Rising the entire 250-foot length of 200 Wellesley’s 29-storey south wall, the multicoloured painting of a bird soaring skyward will be the tallest public art installation in Toronto, and might even be the tallest in the world.


phoenix mural on 200 Wellesley Street East

This rendering provided by The STEPS Initiative shows how the phoenix mural will look once painting is complete.  A July 31 2013 report on the Torontoist website features another rendering that includes details from the base of the mural.