In this PCL Canada 150 profile,
PCL Constructors Canada Inc. (Toronto) looks back on building Scotia Plaza, an
icon of Canada’s financial core.
Highest Record-Setting Tower
In the spring of 2016, PCL—in partnership
with current owners of Scotia Plaza, Dream Office REIT and KingSett Capital -
embarked upon a major revitalization and modernization of the iconic Red
Napoleon granite tower. With construction totaling approximately 60,000 square
feet, the project modernized most of the building’s interior. It was a fitting
upgrade, completed just in time for the celebration of Scotia Plaza’s 25th
birthday this year, which also signifies its
25-year relationship with PCL as its original builder.
The construction of Scotia Plaza
was an ambitious project from the start. Excavation for the tower extended 85
feet, the deepest for a building in Canada’s history at the time.
After reaching substantial completion in 1992, it stood as the second-tallest
building in Canada. It has since been designated as Canada’s third-tallest
building and North America’s 22nd tallest.
Construction of Scotia Plaza
The tower consists of 68 storeys above
ground, and six storeys below. The famed red granite used for its exterior was
quarried in Sweden, cut and polished in Italy, and imported to Canada. The tower itself incorporates the heritage Beaux-Arts Bank of Nova
Scotia building, which is connected to Scotia Plaza by a 14-storey glass atrium
that features a 40-metre metal structure, referred to as the Circle of the Provinces. Home to 40 retail stores and with a
structure that accommodates up to 12 corner offices per floor, Scotia Plaza has
long been regarded as some of Toronto’s most coveted office space.
The construction of such a colossal Canadian icon came with a
wide variety of complications. Located in what would become the financial
district of Toronto’s downtown core, the project site was very tightly
constrained owing to its close proximity to a
heritage building. Additionally,
with construction starting in the midst of Toronto’s building boom,
workers were hard to come by.
Corporation, owner of the development at the time, called for an extremely fast
schedule, further complicating the already challenging task standing before
The sheer scale of a project like Scotia Plaza
requires intense planning and cooperative synchrony between all project
partners. PCL and WZMH Architects, the design consultants for the original Scotia
Plaza and its 2016 revitalization, worked tirelessly with consultants and
trades to overcome these challenges. This highly demanding project required the
best of the best, from site superintendents to construction managers, in order
to construct Toronto’s second-tallest tower.
(Left to right) assistant superintendent Dave Smith,
low-rise superintendent Brian Delichte, and tower
superintendent Barry Reynolds.
To make up for the site constraints, PCL rented a parking lot across the
street from the site. It was used not only to store materials but also to pump
concrete beneath the street and up into the building. This saved on crane time,
and made it possible for the team to build two storeys per week. Using
self-jacking steel formwork minimized crane time even further. Workers were
employed day and night throughout the project, and were able to get it to the
finish line with time to spare.
“Each and every obstacle we encountered was
overcome through teamwork and innovation,” said Brian Delichte, who took an active
part on the project as its low-rise superintendent.
Eight years and $200
million after its 1984 start, Scotia Plaza emerged and reshaped the Toronto
skyline. In the quarter-century since its completion, PCL—in collaboration with
long-standing project partner WZMH, has been involved in every significant
improvement that has taken place within those red granite walls. The journey of
the building’s creation and its revitalization have led to new and strengthened
relationships with partners such as current owners KingSett Capital and Dream
Relationships such as these are a reflection of our company’s dedication
to every building that PCL has raised throughout Canada, and a testimony to the
valued partnerships gained along the way.