Toronto has a fraught relationship with tall buildings. The general consensus is that we need more of them, but when it’s time to talk specifics—location, height, design—the discussion tends to go off the rails. NIMBYism, stringent city planning, and developer parsimony have saddled downtown with more than a few near-identical glass boxes. The architects shoot for Mies van der Rohe; Toronto ends up with the architectural equivalent of James Van Der Beek.
Though it’s important to approach any new architectural renderings with skepticism, we’re cautiously optimistic about this 54-storey office tower, proposed for 156 Front Street West by developer Cadillac Fairview and designed by Chicago’s Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Its curved, slightly bulging profile sets it apart from some of the more rectangular buildings in that part of town. Those enormous, mouth-like openings in the facade add some welcome variety. And the podium incorporates a century-old heritage building, which should give the project some political cover.
If all goes as planned, the glittering tower would be a welcome addition to the north edge of the growing “south core” area, a district of new high-end offices that is steadily luring firms away from the more-established financial district to the north. The building still has a long approvals process ahead of it, and so there’s no telling how much the final project will resemble the rendering above. We can hope.