The design of the 60-storey Massey Tower condominium makes inventive use of its small, constrained site containing the historic Canadian Bank of Commerce building. Vacant since the 1980s, the heritage bank restoration has refreshed the façade and preserved the interior’s plaster mouldings and circular mosaic floor. The available site for the project was decreased by the donation of land to legendary concert venue (and namesake of the development) Massey Hall, located at the northeastern edge. Ideal for a residential development, the project is located steps from the Queen subway station, across the street from the Eaton Centre shopping mall, and close to the Financial District and Ryerson University. As part of this project, the owner undertook a multi-million dollar restoration of the exterior and interior Bank building — resolutely intent on preserving its former beauty and grandeur. In the former banking hall, the iconic circular mosaic floor was air-lifted off the site during construction and relocated into the building as part of the residential lobby. A grand marble staircase closed up for over 50 years was fully rebuilt using the same marble as in the original building. Ornate woodwork found throughout was also saved and refinished. Intricate mosaic floors were restored. While many viewed the old bank as a liability, the current owner viewed it as an asset and integrated the front portion of the building into the development to serve as a striking entrance to the complex. The fritted glass and sculpted ribbon balconies of the new development’s point tower serve as a backdrop to the architecturally significant 1905 bank building. Deviating from a typical box-like design, the tower’s upper floors are angled to accommodate the helicopter flight path of nearby St. Michael’s Hospital. Because of the site constraints, parking is accommodated aboveground behind a frit-glass screen. The parking levels save space by using a vehicle elevator instead of ramps. An airy glass retail pavilion animates the street and gives open space to the public realm through its narrow footprint and setback from the sidewalk. The project received four 2013 BILD awards including Project of the Year – High-Rise and Best High-Rise Building Design and in 2021 received an Award of Merit from the Toronto Urban Design Awards and the Adaptive Reuse Award from the Heritage Toronto Awards. The Massey Tower has breathed new life into the historic “Theatre Block”. Gone are the days of the site being boarded up and abandoned, and through its almost surgical insertion into the site, while respecting the surrounding heritage buildings, the block has been revitalized with new residents, a restored historic landmark, and most importantly, Massey Hall’s imminent return to the forefront of Toronto’s cultural life.
Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA) is a full-service Canadian firm devoted to producing work of lasting value. Siamak Hariri and David Pontarini founded the Toronto office in 1994 motivated by a shared commitment to design quality. Today the 140-person practice offers their clients in-depth Partner involvement through all stages of design and the technical expertise to oversee construction. Over the past 25+ years, HPA has garnered over 80 national and international awards, including the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s (RAIC) 2013 Architectural Firm Award, four Canadian Architect Awards of Excellence, three Governor General’s Medals in Architecture, and the RAIC 2019 International Prize. Every project in HPA’s diversely scaled portfolio reflects a mission to craft architectural and urban solutions that exceed expectations, without excess.
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