Breathtaking new Toronto office tower opens space dedicated to Indigenous history
Banking giant CIBC revealed a stunning new space in its global headquarters at CIBC Square in downtown Toronto on Wednesday, just in time for the Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
In a press release, CIBC states that this Legacy Space in the glittering new office tower "honours the shared history of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as the importance of economic reconciliation in promoting Indigenous prosperity."
"CIBC is committed to advancing the economic prosperity of Indigenous peoples and we look forward to using the Legacy Space to foster open dialogue among Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples," said Victor Dodig, President and CEO, CIBC.
"While we continue to take steps towards reconciliation, there is still much work to be done. CIBC is guided by our Reconciliation Framework and remains committed to making meaningful changes and supporting Indigenous communities and leaders to build a more inclusive future."
Created in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's Call to Action 92 and CIBC's pledge for "clear and measurable actions to promote reconciliation," the Legacy Space was designed with the help of local First Nations leaders and Indigenous team members, in partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund through their Legacy Spaces program.
Though CIBC Square's south tower only opened in 2021, the Legacy Space's planning has been ongoing since consultation began back in 2018, building on a previous Legacy Space housed within the banking titan's former headquarters at Commerce Court West in the Financial District.
Sarah Midanik, President & CEO of the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund, explains that "Legacy Spaces provide the opportunity for companies and organizations to make reconciliation a priority in the workplace."
The space's design comes from the Indigenous Design Studio, a specialty practice at Brook McIlroy.
"The Legacy Space is an opportunity to become immersed in an experience centered around Indigenous design, materials, and histories. The wood feature enclosure serves as a unifying presence, referencing Indigenous structures of the region, and providing warmth and connection to the natural," said Ryan Gorrie, Principal, Brook McIlroy.
"Limestone from Manitoulin Island anchors the room at either end providing a visual richness. A place for gathering, ceremony, meeting or contemplation, the Legacy Space is didactic for those who want to know more, its materials and finishes are carefully selected with the intent of inspiring conversation, learning and relationship building."
The space features a striking vaulted ceiling of solid carved oak and wood-veneer ribbing, inspired by the Anishinaabe teaching lodges and the longhouses of Wendat and Haudenosaunee villages.
Other features include design patterns that represent natural features, graphics on glass walls naming the signatories of the Toronto Purchase, which marked the sale of land by the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation to Britain, and animal pictographs.
And there's even more to the design, some of it not even visible on the surface, like an engineered HVAC system to support traditional ceremonies such as smudging, safely accommodating the buring tradition in an office-tower setting.
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