New Masterpiece Replaces Old


66 Wellington St. W.

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Up on the 54th floor, inside what was once the inner sanctum of TD Bank's Chairman and Board, a white carpet still rests on the travertine marble floor inside the reception area, just as the building’s legendary architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, wanted it. On that carpet rests the now antique modern chairs Mies designed, a small reception desk whose wood matches the English oak panels on the walls and a glass table. And on that table, as Mies preferred, are yellow flowers in a glass bowl. Immaculate, the TD Centre's 54th floor is perhaps Canada' s best preserved example of mid-century modern commercial architecture and interior design.

Renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe brought his innovative approaches to design when creating the TD Bank building. He endeavored to create “architecture for a technological society” (courtesy Life magazine).

After several proposals for a new headquarters for the Toronto-Dominion Bank were rejected, project advisor Phyllis Lambert brought in architectural legend Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with whom she had worked on the Seagram Building in New York. His plan for the Toronto-Dominion Centre consisted of three black steel structures built around a granite pedestrian plaza: the Toronto-Dominion Tower (56 storeys, opened 1967), the Banking Pavilion (one storey, opened 1968) and Royal Trust Tower (46 storeys, opened 1969). As Lambert later noted, Mies achieved in the complex “an architecture of movement, and yet at the same time, through proportional relations among parts and whole, and through the restrained use of fine materials, this is also an architecture of repose. The light as it moves across the building surfaces, playing the mullions like stringed instruments, and the orchestration of the various buildings are together paradigmatically symphonic.”

Mies’ conception of a consistent, clean design extended to the storefronts of the complex’s underground shopping mall, which were required to consist of glass panels and signage restricted to white lettering on a black aluminum panel. By the 1990s, retailers rebelled and the unity of the mall’s design has largely been lost.

By Jamie Bradburn

Visit The Canadian Encyclopedia for more on TD Bank.

Entrance to the TD Centre in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, 2012 (photo © by James Marsh). View the image gallery