The Right Call

Building a corporate headquarters on an old parking lot near once-abandoned rail lands in the core of a major city says a lot about the company’s ethos. It says they want to be citizens, by putting dead space to use and giving it back to the city and its people. It says the company sees how things can and should be better when it comes to civic space, through superior design and a commitment to architectural sustainability. It says many things, as does the new Telus House Tower at 25 York Street in downtown Toronto.

The 30-storey headquarters for the telecommunications company, designed by the two Toronto-based firms of Adamson Associates Architects together with Sweeny Sterling Finlayson &Co Architects, projects a delicate quality that makes the building less imposing on the skyline, especially against a backdrop of heavily massed office towers to the north.

A glass skin extends beyond the building volume, dissolving its edges, and accentuating the building’s overall lightness. The extended fins at either end and on top of the building exemplify the illusion that the glazed faade is independent of the frame. A horizontal orthogonal volume, sheathed in ebony glass, creates tension with the airiness of the transparent masses of the tower above it, and the atrium below it at grade level. This atrium features a fully contiguous 30-foot clear-height space astride the newly created Union Square, which serves as an important knuckle in the the 780,000-sq.-ft. tower’s connection between the Air Canada Centre galleria and Union Station.

The tower’s respect for the city and its citizens starts with its occupants. While providing a striking visual impact, the exterior skin also serves as an important sustainable design feature for this building, in addition to sheathing what is a technology showcase. Inside is an advanced heating and cooling system delivered by a raised-floor distribution network, floor-to-ceiling crystal-clear glazing for greater natural light penetration, high-performance windows nd high-efficiency lighting systems, all of which cut energy use by 25 to 30 per cent compared to a similar-sized building. With additional features such as a rainwater cistern for grey-water use and a minimum of 50 per cent construction waste diversion, Telus House Tower is expected to meet LEED-CS (core and shell) Gold standards (the project was also recently awarded Office Development of the Year from the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association).

The where is as important as the what, and Telus decided not to build on a suburban greenfield site, but instead on a site that started its life as waterfront rail lands and eventually become a heavily-used parking lot. Historically, much of Toronto’s waterfront was constructed by in-filling it with materials considered contaminated by current standards, and sites like these have been found to have up to 25 per cent soil contamination including salt (typical of parking lots), hydro carbons and timber (during excavation remains of wooden piers were discovered). Despite the necessary clean-up costs, Telus committed to a project that gives Toronto’s rail corridor a much-needed boost in pushing forward the evolution of an emergent business district south of Union Station.

Telus House Tower

Owners: Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), Menkes Developments and Alcion Partners

Constructors: Menkes Construction Limited

Broker: Cushman & Wakefield

BaseBuilding Design Architects: Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects Inc.,Adamson Associates Architects

Base Building Production Architect: Adamson Associates Architects

Green Building Sciences Consultant: Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects Inc.

Interior Design: Sweeny Sterling Finlayson & Co Architects, Kasian, Burdifilek

Structural: Stephenson Engineering Ltd.

Mechanical: The Mitchell Partnership

Electrical: Mulvey & Banani International Inc.

Landscape: MBTW Landscape Architects

LEED: Enermodal Engineering

Visit www.building.cafor an expanded slideshow of the Telus House Tower.

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