Restoration Proposed to Return Canadian Pacific Building to Gilded Age Glory

One of Old Toronto’s most historically significant buildings is about to undergo a loving restoration and modernization that pays tribute to its historic elements while bringing coveted density to the city’s financial core.

An official plan change, rezoning application and site plan permit has been resubmitted to the city on behalf of H&R REIT for the redevelopment of 69-71 Yonge Street and 1-3 King Street East, the site of the Canadian Pacific Building.

Completed in 1913 and originally designed by architects Darling and Pearson, the building was once Canada’s tallest and was the corporate headquarters of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, however, it’s the site of underutilized prime office space and a Shoppers Drug Mart; The proposal will be an opportunity to bring it back to its former golden age glory along with a new residential purpose, says the lead architect.

“The site is 108 years old and it’s funny because at the beginning of the Golden Age, after World War I, there was an incredible competition for the tallest building in downtown Toronto; You had technological changes and you have these buildings in this row [that] really represent one of those great eras in urban design,” says Alex Josephson, co-founder of PARTISANS, who will design the site in collaboration with ERA.

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Much like at the turn of the century, downtown Toronto is now facing a new revolution, he adds – that of a post-pandemic reality. This becomes particularly clear in the listed office area; while beautiful, historic buildings may not offer the same level of modern infrastructure as the many triple and double-A lots currently approved across the city.

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Canadian Pacific Building
Rendering of the proposed Canadian Pacific Building: PARTISANS in collaboration with ERA

“So what do you do with these buildings that end up [can’t] compete to provide good workspaces? So there are real concerns about the future viability of these buildings and the quality of the tenants and work environment that they can truly provide,” Josephson notes.

Enter what will be a painstakingly thorough residential conversion of the Canadian Pacific Building. The proposal calls for the conversion of the existing office space on levels two through 15 into condominiums, bringing a total of 127 apartments to the neighborhood. The overall height will be increased by a further five floors set back from the original historical part, reaching a height of 83.4 m and a total area of ​​699 m² with a proposed total gross floor area of ​​12,928.3 m². The plans will retain the existing 962 sqm of retail space on the ground floor and will also include a restaurant space in the building’s currently unused basement.

Canadian Pacific Building
Rendering of the proposed Canadian Pacific Building: PARTISANS in collaboration with ERA

The new five-story addition will feature white precast cladding and modern curtain wall glazing to blend seamlessly with the existing historical features of the original building, including arched shapes and cove widths. Units come in a variety of types, including 40 one-bedrooms, 25 one-plus-dens, 27 two-beds, and 21 three-beds. Levels three through 14 will each have eight residential units, facing Yonge, King and east, with the addition of Juliette balconies for the southeast portion of the building. Penthouses are located on levels 15 and 16.

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While the type of amenities is yet to be confirmed, they will total 437 square feet of interior space, located above the mezzanine on level two. And although the building will not contain vehicle parking, 130 bicycle parking spaces will be added, 116 of which are earmarked for long-term use.

In addition to the residential conversion, the proposal would rehabilitate many of the building’s existing historic features, such as: These include the original masonry windows, historic Stanstead granite and Indiana limestone cladding, and numerous porticoes, dorc pillars and cornices. Canadian Pacific metal signage will also be reinstalled on the facade.

Matt Kingston, Executive Vice President, Development and Construction at H&R REIT, told STOREYS that the project is a special building and requires a unique approach. The challenges, he says, are that the floorplate is relatively small compared to new office buildings (about 25% at 5,000 square feet) and that the existing mechanical, electrical, and infrastructure are outdated.

“69 Yonge was the tallest building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1914 and has been in use as an office for over 100 years, but the problems outlined above led us to question whether its current use would be viable for another 100 years. ” he says. “However, we also felt strongly that as part of our work, such an important and beautiful building must be preserved, improved and enhanced. The result is a boutique heritage collection [of] Homes that respect and highlight the historical aspects of the building while adding a distinctive and complementary addition to the side and top of the building.”

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Josephson adds, “I think if you want to do anything in the downtown core of the city, adjacent to, on top of, or even as a substitute for architecture in that context, you have to think about the relevance of the architecture you’re using. Is it objectively, from a technical and canonical point of view, a relevant discourse of the context in which you are building?

To build somewhere downtown in that area of ​​the city that represents our values ​​as a country, physically – replacing adjacent or above because we have those conditions where we do a lot of that in Toronto. There is a deep sense of responsibility and I think that’s an important message to the city. All you have to do is say yes to the dress.”

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