Crowning 160 Front Street West

Since 2018, Walters has worked closely with PCL Construction and Cadillac Fairview to construct 160 Front Street West in Toronto’s Financial District. This 47-storey structural steel-framed commercial office tower will house two primary tenants, TD Bank, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board – which will be relocating its current North York head office to the new Toronto tower.

160 front Courtesy of PCL Construction

160 Front Courtesy of PCL Construction   

160 Front Street, with a unique, asymmetrical shape, was designed to reflect the surrounding cityscape. Wrapped in a combination of glass and steel, the building delivers a sleek and modern appearance. The curved profile of the tower applies both form and function, offering a distinctive shape to the city’s skyline and functionality for wind resistance. Lateral loads are oriented to the building’s central axis, resulting in a design tapered at the top and the bottom while supporting the structure for optimal wind resistance and creating spaces with unobstructed corner views. The building offers a total gross floor area of approximately 1.2 million square feet (1.63M sq), over 12,000 square feet of retail space, a four-storey summit platform, and four levels of below-grade parking for 324 cars and bike storage for 507 bikes.

Street view of 160 front courtesy of Cadillac Fairview

The interior of 160 Front Street is just as impressive as the exterior. When complete, the building will contain several amenities, including a fitness center, a cafe, and a conference center. One of the most notable design features of 160 Front Street is its sky atrium, which will contain a large, open-air space to provide stunning views of the city, surrounded by several smaller gardens and trees. The sky atrium allows employees to relax and recharge during the workday. The building is also pursuing LEED Platinum and WELL Certified certifications meeting strict energy efficiency and sustainability standards.

PCL selected Walters as the design-assist and build partner on this project. The scope of work involved the supply and erection of approximately 12,000 tons of structural steel and 1.07M square feet of metal deck for the main tower and podium. This project required creative solutions to a challenging logistical environment in the heart of downtown, directly across from Union Station. Extremely strong and durable, structural steel is ideal for use in the construction of tall buildings such as 160 Front Street.

Structural steel is a very efficient material that is well-suited for skyscrapers. In this project, structural steel was used in conjunction with the concrete core to help evenly distribute the weight throughout the building, maximizing floor space. However, due to the unique geometry of the steel structure, special post-tensioning details along with structural pin connections were incorporated to ensure the interface between the two build materials worked together. On the ground level, sloping columns and temporary shoring were used to keep the building stable during erection and to protect the heritage façade.

160 front ground level lobby

160 Front ground level lobby – temporary shoring

Other structural aspects considered were the building’s corners which were designed without columns, leaving the corner office views unobstructed.

Future corner offices with unobstructed views
Future corner offices with unobstructed views. 

Another unique design aspect is the gradual installation of the arced metal frame that overlaps the building’s lower southeast corner. The two curves define the transition between the preserved heritage brick façades and the modern glass curtain wall system above.

Several changes occurred during this project to accommodate tenant requirements, including adding open staircases between floors and a fitness centre. Walters Group quickly responded to these design changes and incorporated the new requirements into the structure without impacting the site delivery and installation schedule.

Floor load requirements increased around new stair openings.

Floor load requirements increased around new stair openings.  

At the top of the crown, the white curved architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) steel pipes allow the building structure to accommodate the amenity space, also known as the sky atrium. The crown reaches its impressive height at 46 floors while still being able to withstand the external forces of nature. The AESS curved pipes were connected using custom-made steel castings from our local partner Cast Connex.

AESS steel pipe installation at the summit (future sky atrium)
AESS steel pipe installation (future sky atrium)

Our fabrication teams customized the pipes, fabricated in unique jigs for each piece, completed the necessary welds then finished to achieve the AESS levels required. Our in-house paint shop applied three-coat epoxy and polyurethane finishes. Once bolt-up was completed, the site crews filled the remaining groove welds to achieve the structural strength and architectural requirements for a seamless appearance. Walters will complete the installation of the main summit steel by March 2023.

The use of structural steel in the construction of 160 Front Street allowed the tower to be built efficiently and quickly within the confines of a congested urban environment. It is a testament to the versatility and strength of this material and its importance in the construction of tall buildings like 160 Front Street.

“We are proud to be a part of such an iconic project,” said Tim Verhey, Executive Vice President, Engineering & Operations Walters Group. “Being brought into this Team as a Design-Assist Partner at the very early stages of the project was an incredibly rewarding experience. Having all stakeholders present to work through tough design challenges resulted in practical, cost-effective solutions that did not sacrifice architectural intent. Now that we have safely topped off, we extend our congratulations to CF, PCL and everyone involved in this project, and most importantly to the dedicated men and women ironworkers for safely reaching this milestone.”

Courtesy of PCL Construction

Overall, 160 Front Street West is a striking and impressive architectural achievement that is already an iconic part of the Toronto skyline. It demonstrates the talent and innovation of its architects, engineers and builders and is sure to be enjoyed by residents and visitors for many years.

For more information

PCL Construction Press Release

Cynthia Emili
Marketing and Communications Manager


Editorial piece published by Aleksandra Bis on LinkedIn

160 front street crowning

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