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.