Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Queen Street West; out with the old, in with the new bridge

Update: On November 2, 2017 the new Skybridge was opened to the public. You can see more photos of the finished structure on my post here.
Update: The bridge is up in the air and they are working at completing the connections and the interior
Update: The new bridge is being put in place over Queen Street West during the July 8-9, 2017 weekend.
Pedestrians crossing between two of Toronto’s best known shopping centres who don’t like to use the street (or the underground PATH system) will have to wait until the fall for the pedestrian bridge to be replaced. The original structure, which sees about 2 million crossings per year, was designed in 1978 by Zeidler and with the overall upgrade of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the addition of the new Saks Fifth Avenue store they decided to construct a new pedestrian bridge to replace the almost 40 year old original. The successful designers from Cadillac Fairview’s competition were WilkinsonEyre Architects and Zeidler Partnerships Architects who proposed a design using glass and bronze panels covering a steel bridge. Of course if it was being built by the Province of Ontario it would be a toll pedestrian bridge!
During the Victoria Day 2017 holiday weekend contractors removed the existing bridge that spanned between the two buildings over Queen Street West. The street was closed between Friday, May 19 and Monday, May 22. Streetcars have been removed from Queen Street and replaced with buses as the overhead electric supply lines had to be removed for the removal and installation work.
The new pedestrian bridge is being built by PCL Construction who are assembling the structure on James Street, right beside the Toronto Eaton Centre. Cranes recently showed up to put down plywood and thick steel sheets to spread the weight of the bridge safely over the roadway and to provide support structures to assemble the bridge from April 24 to August 31, 2017. Now the metal exoskeleton is being placed on the new bridge. It is amazing that the fees to be paid to the City of Toronto by the contractor, just to use the roadway for construction staging for four months, is an estimated $425,000. Once the build is completed they will crane the bridge over to its new home across Queen Street.
From the Zeidler website: The new bridge, encased in floor-to-ceiling glass panels with multiple spiraling angles, will be a high quality example of contemporary bridge architecture. Its dynamic sculptural form will create a new civic landmark for the City and enhance the urban realm experience for both passersby and bridge users. The transformational geometry of the bridge form is further emphasized by the use of bronze panels, which extend, wave-like, from the Hudson Bay end and gradually transition to glass nearer to the Eaton Centre. The glass will wrap around and below the walkway level, making people using the bridge more visible, and increasing engagement with street life below. The internal experience will be of walking within a sculptural artwork. Feature lighting will enhance the bridge’s role as a landmark. The bridge’s supporting beam is designed to maximize clearance over Queen Street while staying within the desired accessible gradient. Zeidler is working with the City of Toronto, Toronto Transit Commission, and Fire Prevention Services to protect the integrity of the bridge’s design while responding to numerous practical requirements.”

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