Thursday, March 10, 2016

Imperial Still - 111 St. Clair Ave West

I stopped by 111 St. Clair Avenue West earlier in the week.  It is still named Imperial, now it is Imperial Plaza.  I worked for Imperial Oil from 1985-1995 and this was its head office.

The building recently opened as a condominium rather than an office tower.  This would be my third workplace that has been converted into residences.

This is no ordinary building conversion, though. It was built to withstand a nuclear blast, and to serve as a hospital.  It was originally proposed as Toronto's City Hall.  
The architectural model for this building was the original design for the Toronto City HallNathan Phillips, Toronto's mayor in 1955, rejected the Mathers and Haldenby design for city hall and opened the commission to an international competition that was eventually won by Finnish architect Viljo Revell. Imperial Oil, in search of a design for their Toronto head office, bought the design from Mathers and Haldenby.  
The building sits atop a high escarpment with a commanding view to the south, and before the construction of the downtown banking towers in the late 1960s, the top floor observation deck was, at almost 800 feet (244 metres) above sea level, the highest point in Toronto; on a clear day visitors could see the rising spray from Niagara Falls across Lake Ontario.  I remember these wonderful views - we watched the construction of the Skydome which opened in 1989.

You can see the mural is still there:  The ground floor lobby features a famous mural, "The Story of Oil", executed by York Wilson in 1957.  It now overlooks the Longo store.

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