Calatrava's intervention in the heart of Toronto covers Heritage Square with a soaring roof and creates a block-long arcade, connecting various buildings and streets. It gives form and meaning to spaces that otherwise would have become isolated by a general lack of co-ordination. Unlike the traditional glazed and vaulted arcades of 19th century Europe, with their purpose-built interior facades, this gallery has been conceived as a free-standing element between existing buildings. It appears as a new typology for weather-protected precincts. It is also a focal point for entry into central Toronto's subterranean pedestrian network.
A space defining function has thus been created that imposes a new point of orientation upon otherwise disparate structures. Along each side of the main linear passage, inwardly inclined dendritic supports branch out in a single plane to create a colonnade, which supports the lofty parabolic vaults that rhythmically span the space. Although made of welded steel, these tight vaults resemble the timber structures that Calatrava had used for the barrel roof of Wohlen High School in Switzerland (1983—1988). The continuous roof structure gives sequential direction to the arcade, which is 130-meter long (426 feet), 14-meter wide (46 feet) and 27-meter high (89 feet). The arcade connects Heritage Square, the Canada Trust Tower lobby, the relocated classicist Clarkson Gordon Building, Garden Court and Bay Street.
The five-story gallery structure also continues out into the streetscape, where it establishes a presence for BCE Place diagonally opposite Mies van der Rohe's Toronto Dominion Center. The original scheme also included an entrace from Garden Court and Front Street to Toronto's subterranean underground pedestrian network, with access beneath a mechanized, closing roof. However, access is now gained via escalators aligned along the main gallery's central axis. The transition from Galleria to Heritage Square is marked by two large, rotating glass panels. These 'wings', which substitute for the more intricate folding mechanism originally proposed, are set into the upper, intermediate space of the existing arch structure.
This arch is one of the series of masonry-clad concrete facade frames that define the regular plan of the square (30 x 30 meters or 98 x 98 feet). Again, a dendritic structure rises to support the glazed translucent roof of nine intersecting barrel vaults. The centre piece of the covered square, also designed by Calatrava, is a circular fountain of steel tubes, which open like a flower.
1987 - 1992
Brookfield Place, 181 Bay St
Toronto, ON M5J 2T3
- City of Toronto Urban Design Award for the BCE Place Galleria