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Toronto - Dominion Centre

Toronto, Canada
1 of 11Wikimedia Commons

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, or T-D Centre, is a clus­ter of buil­dings in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, owned by Cadillac Fairview, and con­sis­ting of six towers and a pa­vi­lion co­vered in bronze-tinted glass and black pain­ted steel. It ser­ves as the glo­bal head­quar­ters of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, as well as pro­vi­ding of­fice and re­tail space for many other busi­nes­ses. Some 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, and the Fairview Corporation as the de­ve­l­oper. The towers were com­ple­ted bet­ween 1967 and 1991, with one ad­di­tio­nal buil­ding built outs­ide the cam­pus and purcha­sed in 1998. Part of the com­plex, de­scri­bed by Philip Johnson as »the lar­gest Mies in the world«, was de­si­gna­ted under the Ontario He­ri­tage Act in 2003, and re­cei­ved an Ontario He­ri­tage Trust plaque in 2005.


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

Site and governing order

As with the Seagram Building, and a num­ber of Mies's sub­se­quent pro­jects, 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 (16 sq ft) grid. Ori­gi­nally, three struc­tu­res were con­cei­ved: a low 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 nor­thwest 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 or­ga­nize 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, later 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; 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.

More struc­tu­res were added over the en­suing de­ca­des, outs­ide the pe­ri­phery of the ori­gi­nal site – as they were not part of Mies's mas­ter plan for the TD Centre – but 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's two towers is pro­por­tio­ned to its width and depth, 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; the mo­du­les of this cur­tain wall are 1.5 m (4.9 ft) by 2.7 m (8.9 ft), 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. On the level below is a re­stau­rant on the south side, and the Toronto-Dominion Bank cor­po­rate of­fices and boardroom are on the north. The in­te­ri­ors of these spaces were also de­si­gned by Mies and in­clu­ded his si­gna­ture broad pla­nes of rich, un­ador­ned 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. Ad­ja­cent to the main boardroom at the nor­theast cor­ner of the floor plate and the Thomp­son Room at the nor­thwest cor­ner, ser­vice areas are con­cea­led wi­t­hin the wood pa­nel­led walls be­hind se­cret pa­nels.

66 Wellington Street West