As the front gates to the city’s luxurious Mink Mile shopping district, the midtown Toronto intersection of Bloor and Yonge has seen a dramatic shift over the years. With the upscale shopping strip continuing to transform, owner KingSett Capital saw it fitting to convert commercial tower 2 Bloor Street West’s office lobby into a modernized retail space.

In collaboration with an expert team of consultants and trade partners, PCL revitalized 32,000 square feet of space in the 34-storey office building’s lobby to welcome anchor retailers. The first three floors of the building’s base sport a sleek, new glass curtain wall, a remodeled lobby, two new elevators and shell spaces for the anchor tenants. The team was also tasked with connecting the existing subway station concourse to the tower’s lobby with two new escalators, all while working within the confines of the building’s active operations.

PCL has extensive experience successfully working in fully operational facilities. However, to deliver this complex revitalization project on time, the team was challenged to come up with some truly innovative solutions. 

The biggest challenge for the team was working around the unknowns of the existing building conditions — a common challenge for any building revitalization project. With the Class A tower originally built in 1972, the team prepared to face the effects of 52 years of wear and tear.

In-depth planning during the preconstruction phase of the project was essential to mitigate as many obstacles as possible. As part of PCL’s scope to provide design assistance to the client, the team was able to bring expert trade partners to the table early in the planning process. As a result, the trade partners had the opportunity to conduct site investigations and provide valuable input on the design based on the building’s existing conditions.

“While the investigations were an important first step in overcoming initial challenges, finding some hidden unknowns were still inevitable,” says Nina Huang, project manager, of PCL Toronto. “When met with unexpected soil conditions during the demolition and excavation phase of the project, the team received immediate support from the client and consultants and were able to pivot to find a new solution. Gaining quick and efficient reviews and approvals made a significant impact on how we handled these obstacles.”

While working in a fully operational building, strong relationships between the property management team and tenants are key to ensuring minimal disruption to the building’s day-to-day activities. This was no exception for the 2 Bloor team.

PCL prioritized close coordination with the property management team throughout construction. The team held regular meetings to ensure all planned work was communicated diligently and any specific requests from the property management team were addressed promptly.

“We also planned portions of our demolition scope of work to be completed during off-shifts to accommodate the building tenants,” explains Huang. “We needed to ensure that the vibrations from the demolition were not impacting the tenant’s operations.”

Additionally, prior to construction start-up, the construction plan specifically outlined phased hoardings to limit disruptions as much as possible. 

“From preconstruction planning to early procurement and creative sequencing, the team thought outside the box to create and execute an efficient construction plan,” Huang says.

The first step in pushing the project forward was ensuring that all trade partners were contracted at the beginning of the project. With 90% of the scope of work tendered already, procurement was easy to complete in time for the start of the project.

While typical construction schedules follow a linear flow, the 2 Bloor team took a different approach. Instead of completing one task before moving on to the next, the team was able to complete multiple scopes of work at the same time. With weather walls installed around the entire perimeter of the site, interior finishes were able to start well in advance.

“This project represents more than a renovation. It is a rejuvenation of the city’s marquee intersection,” says Marc Pascoli, senior vice president and district manager of PCL Toronto. “Congratulations to KingSett Capital, the PCL team and all of the partners involved in completing this complex revitalization project on time and making a notable difference to the defining corner of Bloor and Yonge.”