Tag Archives: E.R.A. Architects Inc.

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




Pit Stops: Photo roundup of below-ground and at-grade construction activity at 21 downtown condo, office & university building sites

Picasso on Richmond condos

As 2012 drew to a close, some noteworthy downtown building projects had reached different stages of at- and below-grade construction progress. At some sites, like this one for the Picasso on Richmond condo tower, preliminary foundation drilling work was in full swing …


Studio on Richmond condos

… while at others, like this one for the Studio on Richmond and Studio2 condo towers just two blocks east of Picasso, site excavation was ongoing.


The Yorkville condos

Over the same period of time, underground parking levels were taking shape at some building sites, like this one for The Yorkville condo project on Davenport Road …


X2 Condos

… while over on Charles Street East, construction had reached a milestone mark at X2 Condos, where building had started on the ground level of the tower


Fall photos: Until condo and office tower construction starts to climb above street level, it can be difficult to track how quickly work is progressing on the dozens of new buildings going up in Toronto’s downtown core. Ground-level views of building sites are often obscured by hoarding and security fences, plus concrete delivery trucks, dump trucks and other construction vehicles maneuvering into and out of staging areas adjacent to construction zones. I find it’s a big challenge to monitor ongoing progress at places where underground levels are taking shape, let alone keep an eye on sites where shovels are just breaking ground or preliminary work is being undertaken to prepare for full-scale construction. The vast number of projects scattered throughout the downtown core certainly doesn’t make the task any easier.



Pit stop: Crews dig deeper at FIVE Condos site

FIVE Condos Toronto

January 25 2012: Excavation has reached more than one level deep at the northeast corner of the FIVE Condos site on St Joseph Street


FIVE Condos

January 25 2012: Looking south from St Joseph Street across the excavation for the 45-storey FIVE Condos tower.  For more information about the project, see my December 22 2011 post



Shoring continues at FIVE Condos site as developer seeks city’s approval to add 5 more floors to tower

FIVE Condos site Toronto

December 11 2011: The tower for FIVE Condos will rise up to 50 storeys from this location near the southwest corner of Yonge Street and St Joseph Street …


FIVE Condos site Toronto

… where earth moving and drilling machines have been preparing the site for full-scale excavation, expected to commence early in the New Year


FIVE Condos site Toronto

An enormous steel frame extends halfway across St Joseph Street to support the four-storey brick facade of the former Rawlinson Cartage Company warehouses at 5 St Joseph Street. The facade will be incorporated into the base of the tall glass condominium tower, with minor alterations to some of its ground floor openings.


FIVE Condos site Toronto

The frame looms above the arched main entrance to 5 St Joseph Street …


FIVE Condos site Toronto

… seen here, from the northwest corner of St Joseph and St Nicholas Streets …


FIVE Condos site Toronto

… and here, from the public sidewalk at the west side of the structures


FIVE Condos site Toronto

This row of designated heritage buildings from 606 to 618 Yonge Street …


FIVE Condos site Toronto

… also will be incorporated into the FIVE Condos development. The buildings will be restored with retail shops at street level and condo suites on the upper floors.


FIVE Condos site Toronto

The historic Henry Turner Building at the corner of Yonge and St Joseph Streets is presently home to the FIVE Condos presentation centre


FIVE Condos site Toronto

The west (rear) side of the Yonge Street heritage buildings that will be restored and revitalized as part of the FIVE condo complex


Higher FIVE?: One of the most talked-about condo projects in downtown Toronto, FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph, could wind up slightly taller than was originally envisioned if a city committee gives the developers approval to boost the tower’s total height.

Back in the fall of 2008, the owner of a .267-hectare site at the southwest corner of Yonge and St Joseph Streets applied to the city for zoning bylaw changes that would permit redevelopment of several historic buildings on the property into residential and retail uses, along with construction of a 49-storey condominium point tower. In August 2009, the developer revised its application after receiving preliminary feedback from city planners and Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services. It trimmed the tower to 45 floors, and also reduced the height and size of the tower podium. On October 22 2009 the Toronto Preservation Board gave the nod to the heritage components of the proposal, while five weeks later Toronto City Council approved the project.

Graywood Developments Ltd. and Mod Developments Inc. subsequently launched sales for FIVE Condos in 2010, and the project proved immensely successful: suites sold swiftly, and FIVE Condos emerged a big winner at the 2011 BILD Awards in April, claiming honours for High-Rise Project of the Year, Best High-Rise Building Design, Best High-Rise Sales Office, and Best Model Suite. (Hariri Pontarini Architects designed the condo project, while E.R.A. Architects Inc. is overseeing the restoration of the heritage building component.) Now the developers are seeking approval to add 5 more floors to the tower, for a total of 50 storeys. They have submitted a minor variance application to the Committee of Adjustment, and anticipate that their application will be heard at the committee’s February 2012 meeting, Graywood’s development manager, Gabriel DiMartino, told me this week.


Yonge Street condo development trend?

Despite all the accolades and strong sales, some area residents are disappointed that the developers are seeking to add more floors to the tower. They worry that city approval for the extra height will set what they consider to be a disturbing trend for skyscraper development along the stretch of Yonge Street between College and Bloor Streets, where several condo tower projects have already been proposed and more are in the works.  Last year, for instance, the developer of the Nicholas Residences condominium on St Nicholas Street two blocks north of FIVE Condos appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board after the city’s Committee of Adjustment denied its application for a “minor variance” permitting it to add six storeys to its popular tower project. (The city had approved a 29-floor tower, but the developer wanted to increase that to 35.) A residents’ group called Save St. Nick opposed the extra floors; they were concerned about the potential detrimental impact the tower could have on the livability of their quiet downtown neighbourhood and the quaint tree-lined and cobblestoned St Nicholas Street in particular. The case settled when the developer agreed to pay $750,000 towards projects intended to benefit the local community. (Construction of the 35-storey tower is now underway.)


Biggest heritage protection project in Canada

Although the extra height proposed for FIVE Condos irks some people, most neighbourhood residents seem pleased — and relieved — that the project will save a significant stretch of heritage buildings along Yonge Street while retaining the historic Rawlinson Cartage Company warehouse facade on St Joseph Street. Staff with the city’s planning and heritage departments are happy, too. At one public meeting I attended, for example, City of Toronto senior planner Michael Hynes praised FIVE Condos as “the largest heritage building protection project in the country,” and pointed out that part of the project will include substantial streetscape improvements to Yonge, St Joseph and St Nicholas Streets. Indeed, facades for two recently-demolished heritage buildings on the west (St Nicholas Street) side of the FIVE Condos site will be recreated from new brick matching the size and colour of brick on the original structures. Incorporated into the condo tower base, the rebuilt facades will maintain much of the unique look of the pre-construction St Nicholas streetscape. And at several public consultation meetings I attended this fall, members of local neighbourhood associations cited the FIVE Condos treatment of heritage properties and the placement of the tower 30 meters back from Yonge Street as an example of appropriate condo development that could complement and perhaps even enhance Yonge without destroying the street’s historic look and character.


Project praised in local newspaper reports

Meanwhile, FIVE Condos continues to attract positive public attention in local newspaper reports. In an October 27 2011 Globe and Mail article entitled “Yonge Street’s oldsters make room for a glitzy neighbour,” columnist Dave LeBlanc describes the “metamorphosis” the Yonge-St Joseph-St Nicholas block will undergo, and provides a brief history of the heritage buildings on the FIVE Condos site. In the November 9 2011 Metro newspaper article “Toronto’s old buildings get a second life as condos,” writer Duncan McAllister describes FIVE Condos as a project “heavy on the conservation,” and a development that “promises to transform this forgotten corner into a renewed urban zone.” And in the November 11 2011 National Post article “Follow the cobblestoned street to the city’s best new-but-old condos,” writer Suzanne Wintrob examines how the FIVE Condos project is retaining the historic integrity of the late 19th Century buildings on its site. She quotes Mary MacDonald, acting manager of the city’s Heritage Preservation Services, as saying that the FIVE Condos developers are “keeping all the exterior elements of the heritage property, adding their own tower, and they’re going the extra mile to make sure that the commercial character of Yonge Street as a main street — with a certain 19th-century character that we’ve kind of lost sight of these days — is restored. We’re hoping that will trigger a conservation movement and a restoration movement up the street.”

(Extensive information about the heritage properties and how they will be restored and incorporated into the condo complex can be reviewed in an October 1 2009 background report that the city’s planning department prepared for the Toronto Preservation Board and the Toronto and East York Community Council.)

Although the FIVE Condos application to the Committee of Adjustment won’t be decided until February at the earliest, preliminary construction activity continues. Shoring work has been underway for several months, and excavation has commenced. Full-scale excavation will begin in the new year once the shoring is finished, Mr. DiMartino said.

Below are several illustrations of the FIVE Condos project, provided courtesy of Hariri Pontarini ArchitectsThe post previous to this one features photos of site demolition and pre-construction activity on the FIVE Condos site between April and today. (If some of the images seem familiar, it’s because they have appeared in my previous blog posts about FIVE Condos, including June 2 2011, May 12 2011, and April 28 2011).


FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph Street rendering

This illustration suggests how the 19th Century heritage buildings at 606 to 618 Yonge Street will look once the project has been completed


FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph Street rendering

This illustration shows the facade of the Rawlinson Cartage Company warehouse building at 5 St Joseph Street  incorporated into the condo complex


FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph Street

This rendering shows how the west side of the FIVE Condos complex will appear along St Nicholas Street once the heritage building facades have been rebuilt


FIVE Condos at 5 St Joseph Street

This drawing depicts a view of the FIVE Condos complex from the northeast



From NHL hockey shrine to food-lovers’ paradise: Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store poised to open

Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

November 20 2011: Crews prepare to install a Loblaws sign on the south side of Maple Leaf Gardens at the corner of Church Street…


Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

… a similar sign had earlier been installed just around the corner on the building’s east facade along Church Street …


Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

… while yet another sign listing all the new tenants of the renovated heritage building sits on a flatbed truck, awaiting installation at the Gardens’ northeast corner at Church and Wood Streets


Month-end opening: The public will get its first peek inside the revitalized Maple Leaf Gardens on November 30 — the day the new flagship Loblaws grocery store will officially open its doors for business.

Scores of construction crews have been buzzing around the inside and outside of the building this week, hurrying to finish the store in time for its much-anticipated and months-overdue opening. Today, crews were installing Loblaws signage atop a new canopy at the southeast corner of the Gardens, where the grocery store entrance is situated, as well as working on the underground parking garage entrance at the southwest corner of the building. Work also is continuing on the new Maple Leaf Gardens marquee along Carlton Street, and inside the upper levels of the Gardens, where the new Ryerson University Athletics Centre is being built. (Unlike the grocery store, the sports & recreation complex is not scheduled for completion until next spring.)


8 a.m. opening on November 30

In a press release issued today, Loblaw Companies Limited said “Toronto’s new crown jewel of food stores” will open at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, November 30.  Although the company is keeping most details about the new store under wraps for now, it did drop “some delectable tidbits about the food experiences that will be found on Food’s Greatest Stageunder the legendary roof located at 60 Carlton Street.” The media release said some of the store’s highlights include a complete ACE Artisan Bakery, an 18-foot-tall “Amazing Wall of Cheese” boasting more than 400 varieties of cheese from around the world, a patisserie featuring handcrafted chocolate and a huge assortment of pastries baked in-store, a tea emporium, an omelet station, a sushi Bar, and an open kitchen preparing take-home breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.

From what I’ve heard, the Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws will be the most impressive grocery store in downtown Toronto, providing an unrivalled shopping environment that will dazzle and delight foodies who have been starved for alternatives to the congested and dumpy-looking food stores currently serving the fast-growing condo and apartment neighbourhood. Last week, I spoke to several newly-hired Loblaws employees who had just received their first tour of the historic building where they soon will be working. Since the site is still a construction zone, with crews putting finishing touches on the building’s interior and exterior, they had to wear hard hats and safety boots throughout their orientation tour. But they said the store basically looks set to open, with all shelves already fully stocked with merchandise. Describing the Loblaws as easily “the nicest grocery store” they’ve seen “in all of downtown,” they said customers will be amazed by both the look and feel of the interior as well as the extensive product line-ups that will tempt their tastebuds and pocketbooks.

According to the Ryerson University website, the architectural team for the Gardens transformation includes Turner Fleischer Architects Inc. for the “base building” and BBB Architects Inc. for the “Ryerson fit up.” Heritage consultant is E.R.A. Architects Inc.

Below are more photos I took outside Maple Leaf Gardens this afternoon. Photos of earlier construction activity at the iconic hockey shrine can be viewed in my posts on November 3, June 14, April 14, March 29 and February 2.


Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

November 20 2011: Crews working outside the parking garage entrance at the southwest corner of the Gardens on Carlton Street


Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

November 20 2011: Workers on a portable crane attend to details on the wall above the underground parking garage entrance.


Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaws store Toronto

November 20 2011 There is one level of parking underneath the grocery store


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: Work continues on the Carlton Street marquee. The entrance to the Ryerson University Athletics Centre will be here.


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: Sign installation above the Loblaws entrance


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: The new canopy above the Gardens’ southeast corner


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: Workers prepare to erect a vertical sign on the northeast corner of the building, at Church & Wood streets. A Joe Fresh clothing shop, an LCBO liquor outlet and a medical clinic will also be opening soon in the Gardens.


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: The Gardens’ northeast corner, at Church & Wood Streets


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: Construction cranes and elevators along Wood Street


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: A crew prepares to install a vertical sign at the northeast corner of the building


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: The slender sign is set in place


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 20 2011: The service entrance on the north side of the Gardens, along Wood Street, was punched into the brick wall of the historic building.


Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto

November 17 2011: Construction activity on the north and east sides of Maple Leaf Gardens. On weekdays, the building is constantly surrounded by cranes, equipment supply vehicles, and concrete delivery trucks and pumpers.