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New downtown Toronto building razes the roof to add new floors
The Globe and Mail | October 25, 2022
The architects and builders redeveloping Cambridge Suites Hotel at the edge of Toronto’s financial district say their plan is going to take construction techniques in the city to a whole new level. It looks like they’re not exaggerating.
The development proposal for the 21-storey property on Richmond Street East near the city’s soaring bank towers starts with the removal of the 1990 postmodern building’s peaked roof.
In its place will be an additional 50 storeys, bringing the new project to a height of 757 feet (230.85 metres), head-to-head with neighbours such as the Toronto-Dominion Centre (731 feet).
It’s a complicated project that will require a 10-metre-high bridge structure to be built atop the existing hotel where the roof is removed. The bridge will help bear the weight of the new tower, explains Len Abelman, principal at Toronto’s WZMH Architects, the firm designing the redevelopment for the property’s owner, Centennial Hotels Ltd.
“It’s not a common technique, it’s challenging. We worked with a firm called RJC Engineers to do simulations of the massing and loading of weight and the lateral forces the building will face, to make sure it will work,” Mr. Abelman says.
“Other projects in Toronto have added floors before, but it’s usually done with a big exoskeleton that goes over the entire building. This one uses technology that transfers some of the weight to the columns and the floors of the existing structure below,” he says.
The site’s hotel, which currently offers 231 suites for business travellers, will be turned into 565 residential units with retail and commercial businesses at ground level; 42 per cent of the units will be two- or three-bedroom units to meet the city’s requirement for more family-sized downtown accommodation.