Toronto-Dominion Centre: Wikis


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Toronto-Dominion Centre
Toronto Dominion Centre logo.png
General information
Location King and Wellington Streets
Toronto, Ontario
Coordinates Coordinates: 43°38′52.50″N 79°22′51″W / 43.647917°N 79.38083°W / 43.647917; -79.38083
Status Complete
Constructed 1967-1969
Use Office
Roof 223 m
Technical details
Floor count 56
Companies involved
Architect(s) Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, John B. Parkin and Associates, Bregman + Hamann Architects
Developer Cadillac Fairview

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, or T-D Centre, is a cluster of buildings in downtown Toronto, Ontario, consisting of six towers and a pavilion covered in bronze-tinted glass and black painted steel, and serving as the global headquarters of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, as well as providing office and retail space for many other businesses. 21,000 people work in the complex, making it the largest in Canada.

The project was the inspiration of Allen Lambert, former President and Chairman of the Board of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, with Phyllis Lambert recommending Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as design consultant to the architects, John B. Parkin and Associates and Bregman + Hamann,[1] and the Fairview Corporation as the developer.[2] The towers were completed at different times between 1967 and 1991, with one additional building originally built outside the campus and purchased in 1998. Part of the complex, described by Philip Johnson as "the largest Mies in the world,"[3] was designated as an Ontario heritage site in 2005.



Three of the Toronto-Dominion Centre's five towers, (left to right) the Ernst & Young Tower, the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower, and the Royal Trust Tower.
The Toronto-Dominion Centre as seen from King and Bay Streets, with the banking pavilion in the centre foreground.

As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe had been given "virtually a free hand to create the Toronto-Dominion Centre,"[4] the complex, as a whole and in its details, is a classic example of his unique take on the International style,[5] and represents the end the evolution of Mies' North American period, which began with his 1957 Seagram Building in New York City.[6]


Site and governing order

As with that the Seagram Building, and a number of the Mies' subsequent projects, the Toronto-Dominion Centre follows the theme of the darkly coloured, rigidly ordered, steel and glass edifice set in an open plaza, itself surrounded by a dense and erratic, pre-existing urban fabric. The T-D Centre, however, comprises a collection of structures spread across a granite plinth, all regulated, in three dimensions, and from the largest scale to the smallest, by a mathematically ordered, 1.5 m² (5 ft²) grid.[7] Originally, three structures were conceived: a banking pavilion anchoring the site at the corner of King and Bay Streets, the main tower in the centre of the site, and another tower in the north west corner, each building offset to the adjacent by one bay of the governing grid, allowing views to "slide" open or closed as an observer moves across the court. The rectilinear pattern of Saint-Jean granite pavers follows the grid, serving to organise and unify the complex, and the plaza's surface material extends through the glass lobbies of the towers and the banking pavilion, blurring the distinction between interior and exterior space. The remaining voids between the buildings create space for both a formal plaza to the north (named Oscar Peterson Square in 2004), containing Al McWilliam's Bronze Arc, and an expanse of lawn to the south, featuring Joe Fafard's sculpture The Pasture;[8] these were the first examples of large-scale public outdoor spaces within the urban core of Toronto.

Phyllis Lambert wrote of the centre and the arrangement of its elements within the site:

With the Toronto-Dominion Centre, Mies realized an architecture of movement, and yet at the same time, through proportional relations among parts and whole, and through the restrained use of fine materials, this is also an architecture of repose. The light as it moves across the building surfaces, playing the mullions like stringed instruments, and the orchestration of the various buildings are together paradigmatically symphonic.[9]

Further structures were added over the ensuing decades, put up outside the periphery of the original site – as they were not part of Mies' master plan for the T-D Centre – but they are still located close enough, and in such locations, as to visually impact the sense of space within areas of the centre, forming Miesian western and southern walls to the lawn, and a tall eastern flank to the plaza.


The height of each of Mies' two towers is proportioned to its width and depth,[7] though they, as well as those based on his style, are of different heights. All, save for 95 Wellington Street West, are of a similar construction and appearance: The frame is of structural steel, including the core (containing elevators, stairs, washrooms, and other service spaces), and floor plates are of concrete poured on steel deck. The lobby is a double height space on the ground floor, articulated by large sheets of plate glass held back from the exterior column line, providing for an overhang around the perimeter of the building, behind which the travertine-clad elevator cores are the only elements to touch the ground plane. Above the lobby, the building envelope is curtain wall made of bronze coloured glass in a matte-black painted steel frame, with exposed I-sections attached to the vertical mullions and structural columns;[2] the modules of this curtain wall are 1.5 m by 2.7 m (5'-0" by 9'-0"), thereby conforming to the overall site template.

On the topmost accessible floor of the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower was a large indoor observation platform, which, as the tower was the tallest in the city, once allowed uninterrupted views of the then quickly developing downtown core and of Lake Ontario to the south; this floor has since been converted to leased office space. One level below is a restaurant on the south side, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank corporate offices and boardroom on the north, the interiors of which were also designed by Mies, and included his signature broad planes of unadorned but rich wood panelling, freestanding cabinets as partitions, wood slab desks, and some of his furniture pieces, such as the Barcelona chair, Barcelona ottoman, and Brno chair. Within the main board room, at the northeast corner of the floor plate, service areas are concealed within the wood panelled walls behind secret panels.

Pavilion and shopping concourse

A view of the underground concourse, with the black aluminum signs mandated by Mies.

The banking pavilion is a double height structure, 15 modules (22.9 m or 75'-0") square,[7] that houses the main branch of the Toronto-Dominion Bank within a single interior space, with smaller areas inside the pavilion cordoned off using counters and cabinets, all built with the typical rich materials of Mies' palette – marble, English oak, and granite.[6] The roof of the building is comprised of deep steel I-sections, each beam supported on only one steel I-section column at each end, all combined to create a waffle-grid ceiling resting on a row of corresponding, equally spaced columns around the periphery. This structure was a further development on the post office pavilion of the Federal Center in Chicago, which has less expressed columns and a second level balcony, and a precursor to the Neue Nationalgalerie completed in Berlin in 1968, which had a similar roof supported on only eight large steel columns. The T-D Centre pavilion was described by the The Globe and Mail newspaper as "among the best spaces Mies ever made."[10]

Incorporated into the lower levels of the project is a large underground shopping mall, fitted in the same black aluminum and travertine as the main lobbies above, which was the genesis of Toronto's PATH system.[8] Also extending to this area was Mies' strict design sense; to maintain the clean-lined and ordered aesthetic of the environment, Mies stipulated, with the backing of both Phyllis and Alan Lambert, that the store fronts must consist only of the glass panels and black aluminum that he specified. Even signage graphics were restricted to only white backlit letters within a black aluminum panel, and only in the specific font that Mies had designed for the T-D Centre. A 690-seat Famous Players movie theatre was originally included within this underground mall, but, though the space still exists, it was closed in 1978 due to redundancy after newer theatres opened throughout the city.[11]

Building statistics

Structure Date
Height Floors Address Architects
Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower 1967 222.86 m
56 66 Wellington Street West Bregman + Hamann Architects and John B. Parkin Associates in consultation with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Royal Trust Tower 1969 46 77 King Street West Bregman + Hamann Architects and John B. Parkin Associates in consultation with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Canadian Pacific Tower
(formerly Commercial Union Tower)
1974 32 100 Wellington Street West Bregman + Hamann Architects
TD Waterhouse Tower
(formerly Aetna Tower, IBM Tower, and Maritime Life Tower)
1985 36 79 Wellington Street West Bregman + Hamann Architects
Ernst & Young Tower 1991 31 222 Bay Street Bregman + Hamann Architects and Scott Tan de Bibiana
95 Wellington Street West 1986 22 95 Wellington Street West



After the 1955 merger of the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank solidified in 1962, the Toronto-Dominion bank directors decided to commission a new headquarters to demonstrate the bank's emergence as a reputable national institution.[2] Allen Lambert, past President and Chairman of the Board of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, secured a cooperative partnership in the late 1950s with the Bronfman owned Fairview Corporation (now Cadillac Fairview) in order to build a new headquarters for the Toronto-Dominion Bank;[12] this marked a first for the development process in Canada, in that a bank, rather than creating its head office alone, had aligned itself with real estate interests and the city to influence urban space.[13] The partnership was established as a 50-50 one, with the bank having the final say on the design of the complex, and Phyllis Lambert – sister-in-law to Allen Lambert, and a member of the Bronfman family – was called in as an advisor on the T-D Centre competition. Gordon Bunshaft, then chief designer of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, was originally hired by the consortium;[2] his proposal called for exterior structural supports for the main office tower, which then necessitated piston-like slip joints at the roof level to deal with weather related expansion and contraction of the structure. Phyllis Lambert objected to this submission, seeing it as too radical, and later stating in an interview that it "was a ridiculous proposal on many levels... Even in a milder climate, it would have been problematic."[14] Bunshaft, due to his refusal to redesign, was relieved of his commission.[2]

This departure left John Parkin, the local architect who would have worked with the American Bunshaft, to design the Toronto-Dominion Centre. His firm put forward a model showing a 100 storey all-concrete tower – to be the largest in the Commonwealth of Nations – standing over a plaza with a sunken courtyard containing a circular banking pavilion.[15] It was at this point that Phyllis Lambert insisted that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (whom she knew from having been the director of planning on his Seagram Building) be called in for an interview.[2] Mies was unimpressed by Parkin's concept designs, wondering why one would design a building to be entered through its basement; with this, the Parkin proposal was scrapped,[15] and Allen Lambert was convinced to bring Mies on board. Though he was technically commissioned as the design consultant to the local architects, John B. Parkin and Associates and Bregman + Hamann Architects, the project was essentially Mies' design in its entirety, demonstrating all the key characteristics of the architect's unique style.[6]

Bank of Toronto head office, demolished to allow for the construction of the Toronto-Dominion Centre.

The choice of Mies, and his new design, followed precedent set by the previous incarnation of the Toronto-Dominion Bank: the Bank of Toronto's 1862 office at Wellington and Church Streets had been designed by William Kauffman, and its 1913 Beaux-Arts headquarters were conceived by Carrère and Hastings, both firms having been the most renouned and respected architects in the world at the time;[4] and gave the project the added significance of being a symbol of Toronto's emergence as a major city,[6][16] and influenced the design of all of Toronto's subsequent skyscrapers.[16] It also marked Mies' last major work before his death in 1969.[2]


The development of the T-D Centre required Fairview to acquire a full city block of downtown Toronto, which it did save for some frontages on Bay Street and at the corner of King and York Streets.[12] Amongst notable losses from the subsequent demolition were the Rossin House Hotel, which dated back to the 1850s and was once one of the city's preeminent hotels. The aforementioned Carrère and Hastings Bank of Toronto headquarters, at the south west corner of King and Bay Streets, was also pulled down, despite some protest at the idea; to questions about whether or not the Beaux-Arts building could be incorporated into the new centre, Fairview officials simply said that it "did not fit in."[12] Elements of the old edifice can still be found as relics in the gardens of the Guild Inn, in Scarborough, Ontario.

The first structure completed was the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower in 1967. Though the rest of the complex remained unfinished, the official opening still took place on July 1 of that year, in order to coincide with the Canadian Centennial celebrations, and was presided over by Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, accompanied by her husband, Sir Angus Ogilvy.[17] At 222.8 metres tall, the Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower was at the time the tallest building in Canada, and remains the fifth-largest building in Toronto. The completion of the banking pavilion and the Royal Trust Tower followed, the former in 1968 and the latter in 1969. The Commercial Union Tower (now the Canadian Pacific Tower), was added in 1974, and was the first on the site not to have been conceived by Mies in his original plan, followed by the IBM Tower (now the TD Waterhouse Tower), built across Wellington Street from the original campus in 1985. With little available space left on or near the block, in 1992 the final building, the Ernst & Young Tower, went up over top of the existing 1930s Toronto Stock Exchange; as the new edifice enveloped the Art Deco facade of the older building within its own, the architect deviated from the strict Miesian aesthetic of all the previous towers. 95 Wellington Street was acquired and added to the Toronto-Dominion Centre in 1998.[2]

A working complex

Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, along with former Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander, unveil a Ontario Heritage Trust plaque in front of the Toronto Dominion Centre, 2006.

Renovations to the underground mall, beginning in the late 1990s, have caused some controversy within the Toronto architectural community as the building management, under pressure from their tenants who wish to have greater visibility to increase business, have let the strict design guidelines slip and more and more individual signage has appeared throughout the mall. As well, ceilings have been renovated from the original flat drywall planes with recessed pot-lights to coffered ceilings.

The building made headlines around the world in 1993 when Garry Hoy, a 39-year-old lawyer, fell 24 floors to his death while demonstrating the strength of the windows to a group of visiting law students by charging into the glass.

The original three buildings and the plazas of the Toronto-Dominion Centre were together designated as a part of Ontario's built heritage in 2006, when the attendant Ontario Heritage Trust plaque was unveiled by Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and his wife, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, along with former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Lincoln Alexander.[5][2]


The Consulate-General of Japan in Toronto is in Suite 3300 of the Royal Trust Tower.[18]


  1. ^ "Bregman + Hamann Architects > Portfolio > Commercial > Toronto-Dominion Centre". Bregman + Hamann Architects. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i (PDF) Toronto-Dominion Centre. Ontario Heritage Foundation. 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  3. ^ Stoffman, Daniel (2004). The Cadillac Fairview Story. Toronto: Cadillac Fairview Corporation. pp. 35. ISBN 0973453206.  
  4. ^ a b Dendy, William; William Kilbourn (1986). Toronto Observed: Its Architecture, Patrons and History. Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 277. ISBN 0195405080.  
  5. ^ a b "Ontario Heritage Trust > News and Events > HRH The Earl of Wessex unveils provincial plaque celebrating the Toronto-Dominion Centre". Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  6. ^ a b c d Hume, Christopher (28 May), "When Mies's towers scraped the sky", Toronto Star,  
  7. ^ a b c Kalman, Harold (1994). A History of Canadian Architecture. 2. Toronto: Oxford University Press. pp. 802. ISBN 0195406966.  
  8. ^ a b "Toronto-Dominion Centre > Tourist Information". Cadillac Fairview. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  9. ^ Lambert, Phyllis (2001). Mies in America. Montréal, New York: Canadian Centre for Architecture, Whitney Museum of American Art: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers. pp. 419. ISBN 0810967286.  
  10. ^ Globe and Mail; 4 November 2002
  11. ^ "Cinema Treasures > Theater Guide > Location > Canada > Ontario > Toronto > The Cinema At The Toronto Dominion Centre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  12. ^ a b c Sewell, John (1993). The Shape of the City: Toronto Struggles with Modern Planning. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 080207409X.  
  13. ^ Hall, Roger; Westfall, William; MacDowell, Laurel Sefton (1988). Patterns of the Past: Interpreting Ontario's History: a Collection of Historical Articles Published on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Ontario Historical Society. Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd.,. ISBN 155002034X.  
  14. ^ Stoffman; p. 34
  15. ^ a b "Galinsky > Toronto-Dominion Centre, Toronto". galinsky. Retrieved 2008-12-10.  
  16. ^ a b Bell, Bruce; Penn, Elan (2006). Toronto: A Pictorial Celebration. Toronto: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.. ISBN 140272389X.  
  17. ^ Kolber, Leo; MacDonald, L. Ian (2003). Leo: A Life. Montreal: McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 077352634X.  
  18. ^ "Embassy Addresses North America." Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved on August 19, 2009.

External links

Preceded by
Commerce Court North
Tallest Building in Toronto
Succeeded by
Commerce Court West
Preceded by
Tour de la Bourse
Tallest Building in Canada
Succeeded by
Commerce Court West


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