PCL tops off 47-storey tower with curved steel beams

Cadillac Fairview’s building will add some unique shape to Toronto’s skyline.

Key Takeaways:

  • Walters Group supplied and erected approximately 12,000 tons of structural steel and 1.07 million square feet of metal deck for the main tower and podium.
  • The building offers a total floor area of approximately 1.25 million square feet, 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.
  • Construction completion is set for December 2023.

The Whole Story:

PCL just topped off a 47 storey project in downtown Toronto.

But this building has a twist. The design of Cadillac Fairview’s 160 Front Street West commercial office tower called for a curved steel beam to create a new and iconic addition to the city’s skyline.

“Constructing a steel office tower is unique in the Toronto market and we’re proud to have reached the top as we build Cadillac Fairview’s vision for their newest landmark building in Toronto, along with our talented construction and design partners.” said Monique Buckberger, vice president and district manager, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. “Placing the final steel beam is a significant milestone for all those involved. Thank you to the hundreds of men and women who have contributed to building this project with safety and quality top of mind.”

Unique Steel Structure

PCL explained that 160 Front Street West’s curved profile applies both form and function, offering a distinctive shape to the city’s skyline and functionality for wind resistance. Structural steel was used in conjunction with a concrete core to help evenly distribute the weight throughout the building, maximizing floor space. PCL noted that in addition to its durability, the use of structural steel allowed the tower to be built efficiently within the confines of a busy urban environment.

“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’ve 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.”

Ironworkers pose with the final steel beam of Cadillac Fairview’s 160 Front Street West commercial office tower. – PCL

Concrete Beginnings

Following groundbreaking in 2019, the team demolished part of an existing six-story heritage building on site, while keeping its façade intact to incorporate into the new structure. A self-climbing formwork system was utilized to construct the tower’s concrete core, consisting of a top and bottom deck, two trailing decks and two levels that wrapped around the exterior of the core, enabling it to climb up the core as one unit. Completion of the above-grade concrete structure enabled the structural steel partners to move forward in completing the tower’s iconic crown.

To make sure that trade partners who were integral to the core completion were honored before leaving the project, PCL’s 160 Front Street West project team hosted a team barbecue in August, 2022. To commemorate this milestone, all workers received a photobook capturing the progress of the build.

“Our trade partners have been paramount in reaching this significant milestone,” said Ed Sceviour, PCL General Superintendent at the time. “As the concrete core phase of construction wrapped up, a large portion of the crew moved on to other projects, so the celebration was our small way of showing the team our gratitude for getting us to that point.”

With the steel structure topped off, the next steps for the build include finalizing the structure, removing the tower crane from the building that was primarily used for the structure, completing the building envelope, followed by interior finishes.

Construction completion is set for December 2023.

Topping-Off Tradition

PCL explained that topping-off is typically celebrated when a building reaches its maximum height. In the case of a steel structure, celebrating the placement of the last beam is considered a major milestone for ironworkers, the construction team, and owners involved erecting the building.

Traditionally, the final beam is signed by ironworkers and adorned with a small evergreen tree which is symbolic of the structure safely reaching the sky, along with good luck and prosperity for the new tenants of the building. The beam is also accompanied by a flag or banner representative of the workforce.

Beam Signing

Earlier in March, the beam was signed during an event hosted by Cadillac Fairview for future tenants TD Bank and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Representatives from PCL, Walters Group and consultants key to the steel program also signed the beam prior to placement.

“As long-standing collaborative team with PCL, we’re proud to mark this significant construction milestone of our newest landmark building in Toronto,” said Wayne Barwise, executive vice president, development, Cadillac Fairview. “This milestone brings us closer to opening this brand-new building that will further connect the downtown core and we’re proud to see this project come to life.”


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