WilkinsonEyre and Zeidler’s Eaton Centre Bridge installed in Toronto

The Cadillac Fairview (CF) Toronto Eaton Centre Bridge, a roughly 35m long footbridge weighing approx. 200t, has been lifted into its final position. Located at third-floor level, it spans over Queen Street West between the Hudson’s Bay building and CF Toronto Eaton Centre (CF TEC). The new CF TEC Bridge replaces an older footbridge and fits in with the bridges system of the city centre.

Visually, its design creates a smooth transition between the two buildings. The initially twisted brass portal frames on the historic Hudson’s Bay building side resolve into a stricter glass design language that blends in with the modern architecture of the CF TEC building.

CF held an international design competition and ultimately selected architects WilkinsonEyre based on its design (design pedigree) and relevant experience. Featuring glass and etched bronze cladding panels, the structure will provide memorable vantage points for both users looking outward and street-level pedestrians looking up at the new bridge. The effect is one of creating a feeling of engagement between levels and the two retail destinations.

“We designed the bridge’s form to connect together the two inherent geometries of each building, transforming from the historical, circular arches of the Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue building to the modern rectangular geometry of CF Toronto Eaton Centre. This union of the two buildings is further reinforced by the use of bronze and glass cladding, inspired by the materials used on both buildings, which flow, wave-like in opposite directions across the bridge,” according to Dominic Bettison, designer of the bridge and Director at WilkinsonEyre. “This meeting and blending of the two building’s form and materials becomes a beautiful and metaphorical ‘handshake’ extending out over Queen Street.”

Working closely with WilkinsonEyre is local Architect and longstanding property partner, Zeidler Partnership Architect, who designed the original bridge and CF Toronto Eaton Centre (in association with B+H).  Other partners involved in the bridge redevelopment include: Construction Manager, PCL Construction; Electrical & Lighting Engineer Mulvey & Banani International Inc.; Structural Engineer; Read Jones Christoffersen Consulting Engineers; and Mechanical Engineer, Mitchell Partnership Inc.

One particular challenge of this project was the demanding erection procedure on Toronto’s most important shopping street. The old bridge between the two buildings had to be removed and the new bridge installed within an exactly defined time-slot. The new CF TEC Bridge was completely pre-assembled just around the corner in James Street. That entailed delivering the primary and secondary steel structure, glass, brass plates and all further components to James Street for assembly there on temporary staging. Afterwards, the bridge was raised hydraulically with the help of a modular vehicle and transported to its final position on Queen Street West ready for lifting into position. And that involved closing this busy street on two weekends.

Installation work on the bridge in its final position above the street is ongoing and will continue until Fall 2017.