Great Gulf teams with Ryerson to bring curb appeal to construction sites

The ubiquitous “post-no-bills” plywood scaffolding familiar to pedestrians in every growing city has been given an overhaul by Great Gulf and Ryerson University. The developer and university are working with New York-based Urban Umbrella to cover sidewalks at their construction sites with gracefully arching steel frames and translucent panels, adding a chic design element to an essential safety function.

Urban Umbrella’s functional, safe and stylized scaffolding will be used for the first time in Canada by Great Gulf at its 75-story luxury condominium One Bloor on the southeast corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets, and by Ryerson University for the construction of the Student Learning Centre at Yonge and Gould Streets.

“This is unlike anything you have ever seen,” said Alan Vihant, Senior Vice President of High Rise Development for Great Gulf. “Urban Umbrella is a functional sculpture that invites pedestrians and enhances storefronts. You’ve got to see it to fully appreciate it.”

Urban Umbrella started to gain notice after winning an international design competition sponsored by the NYC Department of Buildings. The company’s designs were embraced by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and began being adopted for some building projects in that city.

“With construction pushing Toronto to the height and density of a metropolis like New York, Toronto now faces the same problem that New York faces,” said Sarrah Khan, the Canadian engineer of Urban Umbrella. “Buildings must go up and come down, but we must protect the life of the city during this process. Urban Umbrella, with its graceful arcs and natural light transmission, allow people to enjoy and experience the city during construction.

“We live in a growing and transforming city that is welcoming thousands of new residents every year. Construction is inevitable – it is also the first step in building communities. This project demonstrates that we can commit ourselves to a liveable, safe and beautiful community from day one,” said Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose ward includes the development areas.

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