As Canada’s largest city, Toronto is known for its diverse culture, buzzing nightlife, towering skyscrapers, and an iconic waterfront skyline. The city is home to some of the tallest buildings in Canada, including the famed CN tower.
And though skyscrapers certainly aren’t new to Toronto, a recent construction boom is drastically changing the already impressive skyline, making the city one of the biggest construction sites in all of North America.
To date, Toronto has 100 high-rises in construction, 300 proposed high-rises, and 220 construction cranes—more than any other city on the continent. Soon enough, Toronto will overtake Chicago (and fall just behind New York City) for the city with the most skyscrapers in the U.S. and Canada.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what’s driving this construction boom, then imagine the future of skyscrapers in Toronto. But first, watch the video to learn how Toronto’s skyline is changing:
As with most cities, the catalyst for Toronto’s construction boom is multi-faceted. Increased housing demand, immigration, and investment have led to an explosion in building across the city. Evolving city policies have also put skyscraper construction into overdrive.
Let’s dive deeper into the factors contributing to Toronto’s race to the sky:
According to 2021 census data, the population of downtown Toronto grew 16.1% from 2016 to 2021. This exponential population growth pattern isn’t slowing down anytime soon, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a mass exodus from cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City.
The city has struggled to keep up with the existing housing demand, and as the population continues to grow, the housing shortage is expected to get worse. To combat the problem, Ontario will need to build one million new homes to accommodate the surge in residents.
It’s not just Toronto’s downtown area that’s growing. 100,000 people are pouring into the greater Toronto area every year, with much of the growth driven by immigration. In fact, Canada’s population increased 5.2% from 2016-2021, and 80% of new residents came from other countries.
Immigrants from Saudi Arabia, Australia, South Africa, and Turkey make up the majority of the population growth, and 90% of these immigrants settled in urban centers like Toronto. Overall, this surge in immigration has led to an almost 10% growth of Toronto’s distant suburbs.
As Toronto politicians grapple with the challenges of a rapid population increase, they’re creating new policies to curb the growing pains. One of the most important changes is to make Toronto’s city footprint grow up rather than outward.
Whereas Manhattan became America’s skyscraper capital due to lack of space, Toronto certainly isn’t lacking in that department. Yet only a small segment of the city is zoned for high-rise buildings, and a massive 75% of buildable land in Toronto is zoned for low-rise development only.
The shortage of zoned land has led to a dramatic increase in land value downtown. Consequently, Toronto is building upward due to rising land value, zoning laws, and a desire for walkability.
Investors are taking note of the city’s housing shortage, meaning an astounding 90% of the new towers under construction in Toronto are residential (or will contain residential units).
At the heart of the residential building boom in downtown Toronto lies The One—a skyscraper that will rise 308.6 meters (1,012 feet) above the city, making it Canada’s tallest apartment building and first supertall skyscraper.
Upon completion, The One will offer apartments, commercial space, and a hotel. Because the innovative skyscraper sits on the corner of the bustling Yonge and Bloor streets, engineers pushed the limits to maximize the size and volume of the space.
To make the most of the space inside the building, weight is transferred to giant exterior columns that stretch the height of the tower. Floors are hung on this frame by the building’s distinctive diagonal beams, and cutaways are added to the mechanical floors to accommodate the city’s strong gusts of wind.
The end result is a skyscraper that sets a new standard for new construction in downtown Toronto and signifies the rebirth of urbanism in Canada.
Whether designing Canada's tallest building or a more humble tower, there are many challenges that go into any type of skyscraper construction. Fortunately, Autodesk can help solve design headaches across a varied range of disciplines.
Autodesk Build is cloud-based technology that offers a single coordination and project management platform. Anyone working on the project can access the latest, most up-to-date information—whenever they need it, wherever they are.
From creating a 3D model of a ground floor office to topping off a building 300 meters in the air, Autodesk Build allows everyone to stay in the loop and seamlessly share documents.
Want to dig deeper into Toronto’s flourishing construction scene? Check out our B1M video feature to learn more about the changing skyline in Canada’s most famed city.
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