Architecture columnist Lisa Rochon choose five buildings that give back to the city. The Massey Tower makes the list…


Massey Tower. Hariri Pontarini Architects; MOD Developments.

The Massey Tower near Queen and Yonge is one of the most elegant juxtapositions of contemporary lightness and heritage gravitas to be proposed for Toronto. Until Gary Switzer came along with his newly launched development company, nobody wanted to touch the Canadian Bank of Commerce Building (designed by Darling & Pearson in 1905), which has been abandoned since 1987 and considered one of the city’s most at-risk heritage buildings.

The 60-storey clear glass tower with gently curved balconies is inserted behind the Beaux-Arts relic on a diminutive site. The bank itself will get a $2-million restoration that will transform its first three storeys, and the development will provide the land for an expansion of Massey Hall just behind it. The project is set to break ground this fall.