Cadillac Fairview’s 160 Front Street West is bold, distinctive and tailored for a next-generation workplace. The Front Street and Simcoe Street intersection is home to the 775-foot-high commercial office tower, the seventh tallest building in Toronto. Adjacent to Union Station, the city’s transportation hub, the 47-storey commercial building features 1.2 million square feet of office space.

Breaking ground in 2019, PCL was tasked with finding creative solutions to build one of the most complex tall towers it has ever built. From Cadillac Fairview’s unique vision to the workforce that built it, every aspect of the skyscraper was planned and executed with intention to fit into the fabric of the city’s skyline and community. Together, the team successfully completed major construction activities on the newest addition to Toronto’s iconic skyline. 

Integrating history with modern architecture, 160 Front Street West features a historical façade restored from a 119-year-old, six-storey heritage building. Cadillac Fairview was keen on maintaining the original structure’s history and revitalizing the façade for its new use.

An eye-catching feature of the tower, 160 Front Street West’s curved profile applies both form and function. The shape of the building offers functionality for wind resistance. The building widens as it rises and tapers towards the top to minimize the force of the wind, creating broader and spacious sidewalks.

While atypical for downtown Toronto, structural steel was the ideal material to execute such a complex design in a logistically challenging location for construction. Structural steel was used in conjunction with a concrete core to help evenly distribute the weight throughout the building, maximizing floor space and allowing the tower to be built efficiently within the confines of a busy urban environment.

Sending everyone home safely at the end of each day is always PCL’s first priority. With a large workforce on-site, maintaining constant communication and a strong safety culture on a project of this magnitude was key. Whether it be the trade partners or the Joint Health and Safety Committee members, everyone took on the responsibility of communicating expectations and relaying any safety concerns. A direct result of its commitment to safety, the 160 Front Street West project team achieved two million worker hours without a lost-time injury.

A large aspect of the safety program at 160 Front Street West was aligned with the project’s self-climbing core formwork system (M-Tech) used to construct the tower’s concrete core. The system consists of a top deck, bottom deck, two trailing decks and two levels that wrap around and climb the exterior of the core as one unit, while vertical concrete construction progresses. A unique construction technique, the M-Tech system also requires a specific safety program.

“Initially, we assessed the system to see how effective and safe it was and what kind of environment it would produce,” explains Ed Sceviour, PCL Toronto general superintendent. “We prioritized creating an environment where the workers would feel safe whether they were on the fourth floor or the 40th floor. We needed to ensure we could react to any type of emergency response if required.”

Since the system had its own emergency response plan, the team developed an orientation program specific to the M-Tech system. Only workers who were directly involved in the M-Tech system and concrete core construction would receive the orientation and work within the system. The team also engaged with paramedic and fire services to plan ahead in the event of an emergency.

“The team ensured a consistent and safe environment for the workers. It added to our overall culture on the project and the confidence they had in the system itself,” Sceviour says.

The workforce is the most important piece of the puzzle of any project, especially one of this calibre. With an average of over 500 workers on site, the team at 160 Front Street West played a large role in supporting the community and those living and working in them. This included participating in the Hammer Heads Program. 

The Hammer Heads Program was created by the Central Ontario Building Trades (COBT) in 2009 to support at-risk youth. A 12-week skill- and employment-based training program, the course offers exposure to a variety of construction trades and hands-on training. Addressing the needs of under-resourced youth in our communities, the program links young tradespeople to a registered apprenticeship opportunity in the construction industry that might otherwise be difficult for them to access.

Cadillac Fairview partnered with COBT to implement apprenticeships on its construction projects in Toronto. PCL Toronto was proud to support Cadillac Fairview's partnership with COBT and welcome graduates to the 160 Front Street West project, helping them begin successful careers in the trades while adding valuable tradespeople to the construction industry.

“Delivering a project of this incredible calibre would not have been possible without the collaboration of all of our partners and their dedication to delivering excellence at every step of the way,” says Monique Buckberger, vice president and district manager at PCL Toronto. “Congratulations to everyone involved on achieving this important milestone and leaving your mark on Toronto’s iconic skyline for years to come.”