TD Centre

When the Toronto skyline got its jolt of modernism

At the outset of the 1960s, Toronto's skyline was positively Buffalo-esque. While marked by majestic old structures like the Royal York Hotel and the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building, approaching the city by boat, one would have also noticed a preponderance what we would now consider low-rise buildings and more than one church steeple that had yet to be obscured by the intense development of the city's downtown core that was about to get underway.

In more ways than one, this process started with the rise of the first and tallest of the buildings that would eventually compose the Mies van der Rohe-designed TD Centre. At 56-storeys, it's monolithic black steel body rose above the tired skyline with a modernist minimalism that was almost completely foreign at the time.

The future may have arrived in Toronto a couple of years earlier with the construction of new City Hall, but from the standpoint of the skyline, the importance of the TD Centre would only be rivalled by that of the CN Tower, which was completed nine years later and has remained the city's most iconic structure to this day.

Although it may not strike the casual observer in such a way today, Mies' masterpiece — composed of two towers and the banking pavilion at King and Bay streets — was about as bold as Toronto architecture got. The stark black aesthetics, its metal construction, and the expansive site upon which it was built (the complex encompasses four standard city blocks) demonstrated a type of vision that Toronto was unaccustomed to heading into the 1960s. Thank you Allen and Phyllis Lambert.

The city has since grown around Mies' towers, lessening their dramatic mark on the skyline, but they nevertheless remain some of Toronto's most elegant buildings.

PHOTOS

TD Centre

The final beam...

TD Centre Toronto

1965

Toronto Dominion Centre

The Bank of Toronto Building would eventually be demolished for the TD Centre

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Rising above the skyline in 1966

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The original Mies complex

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At night in 1966

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Late 1960s aerial

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1967

TD Centre 1970s

Skyline 1970s

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The skyline from the Island in the 1970s

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Office of the Vice President, 1960s

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Inside the Pavillon shortly after opening

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Topping off in 1966

Photos from the Toronto Archives (marked at bottom), the Toronto Port Authority, Chuckman's Nostalgia, and from the source material of Mean City.


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