Vertical Access Documents Toronto’s Heritage

In the heart of the Toronto financial district is 1 King Street West, a hotel and residential tower that exemplifies both Toronto’s architectural heritage as well as the city’s more recent building boom.  The current building on the eastern portion of the site was built in 1914 as the headquarters of The Dominion Bank.  The 14-story masonry building has a granite base and terra cotta at the upper floors, with neo-classical ornament fitting for a bank building of the period.  In 2005, a 51-story residential tower was appended to the historic building, making it one of the tallest residential buildings in Toronto.

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Vertical Access was retained by Halsall Associates to perform a comprehensive investigation of the exterior facades of the historic portion of 1 King Street.  VA technicians Kelly Streeter, Mike Gilbert, Kevin Dalton and Evan Kopelson spent the weekend and Canadian Thanksgiving documenting conditions at the exterior masonry.  The work was scheduled for the long holiday weekend to minimize public exposure while working in the busy downtown area.  Even with reduced pedestrian traffic, a subway entrance and trolly stop on one side of the building, the Yonge Street thoroughfare on another, and the main hotel entrance and parking garage entrance on the third side necessitated a full-time groundsperson to maintain hazard zone closures at the sidewalk.

Another challenge of the project was to recalibrate our thinking to metric units.  Although we used a metric version of the TPAS block libraries, some quantities such as sizes of spalls and width of cracks are not automatically calculated within TPAS and require direct measurement.

VA’s survey proceeded smoothy over the three days of field work.  One reason the project went well as the nearly ideal weather, with temperatures in the 20’s (celsius) and calm winds.  Rigging for the rope access drops was facilitated by the presence of engineered davit bases and tie-back anchors installed in 2006 for window cleaning scaffolds.  And finally, since we stayed at the 1 King West hotel, our commute each day consisted of taking the elevator from the 8th floor to the 15th floor of the building.

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