Brookfield Place: Calatrava’s Atrium of Light

1992

Bay St. and Front St. W.

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The great Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has created in Brookfield Place an architectural marvel, a modernist atrium of light that also manages to preserve the past. Calatrava’s soaring Galleria integrates a $1.2 billion development that occupies an entire city block. It includes the 51-storey TD Canada Trust Tower, 47-storey Bay-Wellington Tower and several historically designated buildings.

The Heritage Building when it was located at 13-15 Wellington Street (from Toronto – No Mean City, by Eric Arthur).

The Allen Lambert Galleria comprises 16 freestanding steel supports, which branch out into parabolic shapes reminiscent of a forest canopy, typical of Calatrava’s “biomorphic” style. In Heritage Square, in the east section, another 16 supports branch out in a similar fashion. 

The Clarkson Gordon Building, also known as the Heritage Building, originally built in 1844 on Wellington Street just north of where the property rests today, was disassembled stone-by-stone, restored and incorporated as part of the Galleria. This structure has been home to several financial institutions including the Commercial Bank of the Midland District and Merchants Bank.

Calatrava’s belief in the power of architecture to define a place, such as the onion domes of Saint Petersburg or the minarets of Istanbul, is beautifully exemplified by his award-winning Galleria at Brookfield Place.

By James Marsh

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Calatrava's soaring atrium incorporates the historical Commercial Bank of 1844 (photo © by James Marsh). View the image gallery