Toronto's CN Tower Could Be Cluttered With Clip-On Cross-Laminated Condos

©. Quadrangle Architects

Toronto's Quadrangle Architects, known to TreeHugger for its proposal to cover the city's elevated highway with an even more elevated linear park, is at it again with another creative adaptive reuse- they want to cover the CN Tower, formerly the world's tallest free-standing structure, with condominiums.


© Quadrangle Architects

The tower was built in the seventies as a giant TV broadcasting antenna, but is now little more than a tourist attraction. The architects explain in Dezeen:

Quadrangle saw an opportunity to reinvigorate the tower with desirable market condominiums, in an excellent location with unparalleled views, while maintaining the building's existing and successful functions.
CN tower apartment detail

© Quadrangle Architects

They propose building the condo boxes out of TreeHugger's favorite material, Cross-Laminated Timber or CLT. The architects are quoted in Dezeen:

CLT's combined lightness and strength ensures that the units can be 'hung' between the wind-shielding 'wings' of the CN Tower. Since CLT buildings are designed in panels that are made in factories, and snapped into place onsite, the construction will be quick and safe, having no negative impact on tourist traffic.
units view

© Quadrangle Architects

TreeHugger loves CLT, and we know that this project is just conceptual, but its use here makes no sense at all, other than the stuff is really trendy. It is lighter than concrete but still weighs half a tonne per cubic meter, or about 12 pounds per square foot in four inch thickness and still needs insulation and cladding.


Wikipedia/CC BY 2.0

The CN tower could certainly do with some adaptive reuse; it was completed in 1976, designed by John Andrews Architects and what was then the firm of Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden; the late Roger DuToit was project architect. I was studying architecture at the University of Toronto at the time; the entire school was out on the roof, watching the Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter assemble the giant antenna. It is an historic structure. After 40 years of curing, that concrete is going to be very strong and no doubt could take the added load, although cutting it full of holes for access to the elevators and stairs might not be fun. A parasitic adaptation like this might make a lot of sense. But please, lose the CLT.

garden on gardiner

© Quadrangle Architects

And you do have to admire Quadrangle's bold vision for the city; imagine looking down on their garden on the Gardiner.