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ERA Architects

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8 King Street East

8 King Street East

Following the Great Fire of 1904, the intersection of King and Yonge streets became the site of Toronto’s first modern skyscraper ensemble – a collection of buildings which inalterably changed the skyline and image of the city.  With the CPR building (south-east corner) completed 1913, and the Dominion Building (south-west corner) completed 1914, the Royal Bank of Canada (north-east corner) became the last – and tallest – of the ensemble to be completed in 1915, by Architects Ross & McDonald of Montreal.

When completed in 1915 by Architects Ross & McDonald, the Royal Bank building at 8 King Street East became the tallest in the British Empire, with skyscrapers of similar height not appearing in Montreal until 1928.

The design of the building follows a classical ‘Beaux-Arts’ format. At the base, a series of limestone Corinthian columns divide 2-storey arcaded bays, and support a decorative terra cotta entablature. This motif at the base is mirrored at the crown, where terra cotta piers lie between three-storey ornamental cast iron bays following the rhythm of the columns below. The building is capped by a highly ornamental projecting copper cornice, originally intended as an observation promenade accessed by the penthouse above.
With over a century since construction, the exterior of the Royal Bank building has suffered deterioration by the elements and has also been subjected to previous unsympathetic repairs which have either exacerbated its condition, or impacted the clarity of its original design and materials. The windows were also found in various states, with previous repairs proving ineffective and limiting the building’s thermal performance.

Led by RJC Engineers in partnership with ERA Architects, the conservation project has not only restored the appearance of the building, but also implements significant performance improvements to ensure lasting durability and tenant comfort.
A masonry restoration program was undertaken on the principal facades, where careful repairs and replacements to the stone and terra cotta are complemented by a thorough masonry cleaning sequence to remove embedded staining and restore the original colour of the building. To address the windows, extensive replacement was implemented on all faces of the building, where new high-performing double-glazed windows were installed in styles matching the historic originals; In the case of the bronze-clad windows found at the south and west, the new replacements have been entirely custom designed and built to meet exacting City heritage standards and performance criteria.
The ornamental copper cornice received extensive repair work, including the fabrication of custom replacement components, and to complete the copper work at the top of the building, the existing asphalt roof at the building’s penthouse, as well as the elevator shaft roof, was replaced with new copper standing seam roofing to match the original design, including the addition of a modern waterproofing assembly.

Overall, the conservation approach has not only restored the appearance of 8 King Street East, but improved its performance into the future.

The scale and scope of the conservation project at 8 King Street East is commensurate with the impact this meticulously restored Edwardian skyscraper once again brings to the intersection of King and Yonge.  This landmark structure, which has remained steadfast for over a century while its surroundings have changed, will carry a new vibrancy and resiliency into the coming decades as it continues to stand guard at the centre of the growing city.

Location
Toronto
Client
Kingsett Capital / BentallGreenOak
Partner
RJC Engineers
Consultants
Roof Tile Management Inc.
Date
2017–2020
Expertise
Sector
Staff
Daniel Lewis/Noah McGillivray/Andrew Pruss

Awards

  • ACO Heritage Awards: Peter Stokes Restoration Award: Large-Scale/Team/Corporate, 2022

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