Toronto Downtown Towers Going Green

Office buildings have been conspicuously absent from the Toronto construction boom; it has until now been condo driven, as companies flee to lower taxes in the suburbs. Chris Hume in the Star writes that this is changing, as three new towers are built, all to LEED silver specifications.

"It's a very powerful story," says Toronto architect Dermot Sweeny of Sweeny, Sterling, Finlayson, who's working on both the RBC and Telus projects. "This is the future. The fundamentals haven't changed since the mid-1960s. Nothing got much better architecturally than the Toronto-Dominion Centre; the only way to advance the model is to concentrate on the environment inside, which is key to attracting and retaining knowledge workers."

As Sweeny explains it: "It's pretty hard to justify three new towers in a market that has more than a nine-per-cent vacancy rate. Between the three, there are 3 million square feet of space. But these guys are confident that by building a better building, driven by tenant need, they'll all be fully occupied. It's pretty exciting stuff, and the tenants are really into it. These measures will give them a tremendous competitive edge."

Then, of course, there's the critical issue of location: all three are in the downtown core, easily accessible by public transit. This is especially intriguing because, don't forget, for two decades or so corporations have been fleeing the city for the 'burbs.

But it turns out that the knowledge workers the companies are after, who represent their future, are young and increasingly urban. They're the people who live in the condos now popping up at a fast and furious rate. For them, transit is not an abstract concept; it's a daily need. They don't want the commuter's life, driving to and from an oversized house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Vaughan.

"What these new towers say," Sweeny continues, "is, `We are resourceful. We are a place where young people are comfortable working. We're forward thinking. We're caring and we're building a better environment and a better place to be.' Christopher Hume in ::The Star

Tags: Toronto