Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thursday Doors

Linking up at Norm's Thursday Doors.

July 2017 - Toronto ON

I worked next door to this building on Adelaide West for years and it was just a nondescript office building, rather frumpy in appearance, in comparison to the modern towers around her. There was an old-fashioned greasy spoon on the ground floor for years. Eventually it got a Tim Horton's.

I was walking up Bay St. this week and was looking up when a building with vibrant colours caught my eye.

I turned onto Adelaide, across from FCP, and behold a magnificent jewel or so I thought.
The silver tower reaches a height of 40 storeys, the Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed EY Tower catches the eye as the distinctively crystalline roof joins the Financial District skyline.

It happens to be a replicated heritage facade that fronts the tower's southeast corner at Adelaide and Sheppard. Long home to the 1928-built Concourse Building, the corner of Adelaide and Sheppard is now fronted by a conspicuously new replica of the former building. Featuring prominent murals and mosaics by Group of Seven member JEH MacDonald, elements of the Art Deco building—demolished in 2013—have been incorporated into the new facade.

According to Historic Toronto's website:

It was truly one of the city’s best examples of Art Deco structures from the 1920s. Even though it is designated a Heritage Site, the building was demolished, except for two of its facades—the south facade on Adelaide Street and the east facade facing Sheppard Street. They were dismantled, cleaned, and reconstructed. It is small consolation that these two facades will remain.  The interior of the Concourse Building will be lost to future generations. A 40-storey modern tower of glass replaces it.

The Concourse Building was designed by the architects Martin Baldwin and Greene in 1928, the year prior to the great stock market crash. Its rich decorative detailing was created by J. E. H. MacDonald (1873-1932). A plaque on the Concourse Building states that “MacDonald was best known as a painter and was a moving spirit in the Group of Seven.”

“The Concourse Building introduces colour for the first time in downtown Toronto,” a newspaper ad boldly proclaimed in March 1929. “The austerity of eternal gray which pervades our streets is relieved in this building with a lovely warmth of gold. An office in this building will be more than an office.”

Replication/reconstruction/reassembly or not it is stunning.

The entranceway on Adelaide Street is two storeys in height, topped by an impressive Roman arch. Inserted into the arch is a mosaic panel that displays a large planet, symbolically depicting the elements of air, fire, earth and water. MacDonald said that he felt this was appropriate as the name Concourse suggested a gathering together. He extended this theme to the smaller panels on the underside of the arch, placing designs that represented Canada’s industries (steam shovels, plough, wheat sheaf, airplane, furnaces, sailing ships, electric power, plough), as well as the wildlife of Canada. All the designs possess brilliant colours against solid backgrounds.

MacDonald placed his initials and year—1928 in the left-hand corner.

In the lobby are photos of the original building.

the EY Tower's heritage preservation entailed a meticulous survey of the Concourse Building in advance of demolition. The search uncovered a number of original murals and mosaics, as well as ornate architectural features that were hidden beneath mid-to-late 20th century renovations.

This panel soars between the doors.

One more look as we exit the doors.
A bike messenger asked if I wanted a photo of me in front of the doors, I declined and we chatted about the architecture in Toronto and he said it was a favourite part of his job getting to see the interiors.



  1. What a magnificent find! How wonderful, that so much beauty was salvaged/reconstructed! :)

  2. It's a shame they had to tear down the original. Yet another glass monstrosity isn't a good thing.

  3. Love your first view of the high rises, Jacky - stunning! Glad they could renovate - the white door with the embossed grapes on it, is my favorite!

  4. Beautiful details and a fabulous door! I really like the feel of looking up into space that you caught in that first shot.


  5. Too bad about the rest of the building but those are some gorgeous doors! I don't know why but there's not much surviving art-deco architecture around here either.

  6. Excellent selection of photographs. :)

  7. This really was a "WOW" moment. Great shots of the building and the doors are magnificent.


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