Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Courtyard filled with Interesting Things at Simcoe Place

Simcoe Place is an office tower located to the east of the CBC building which I blogged about last Tuesday.  Between these two towers and immediately to the south of a new tower under construction - the Ritz Carleton - is a wonderful courtyard with 3 major pieces of public art.  To see an aerial map of CBC and Simcoe Place showing the courtyard, which is called Simcoe Place Park, go here.

Built in 1995, it was the only major office tower built in Toronto during the mid-1990s, a period between the early decade real estate bubble and the building boom of the 21st century.  Designed by architects Carlos A Ott and NORR, it stands 148 metres (486 feet) and houses 33 floors consisting of (750,000) square feet of office space, 48,000 square feet of retail space, including a 650 seat food court, a three level underground parking garage, and a daycare.  BOMA Canada has awarded Simcoe Place with the 2008 Office Building of the Year.

Historically the site which Simcoe Place sits on has figured prominently.  It was the location of the seat of the Parliament of Upper Canada from 1829 to 1841.   Simcoe Place is named for John Graves Simcoe who was the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and the founding father of Toronto (then York). It was his surveyors who cleared the road leading north to Lake Simcoe - Yonge Street.

Campsite Founding

Adjacent to the office tower is Simcoe Park. The Park situated on one acre of land contains a number of public art pieces that acknowledge the historic stature of the site while adding a new dimension of interest to Simcoe Place. The memorial pieces commemorate the contributions of the Governor General John Graves Simcoe, and his wife Elizabeth to the founding of the City of Toronto.

Following are some pictures I took of the multi-component installation which sits within the courtyard.  It is titled Campsite Founding and was created by Brad Golden and Lynne Eichenberg in 1994 to provide a visual and text based historical narrative.    I found a City of Toronto Brochure describing some 22 peices of street art located in the downtown area, and from it I found:

The coverered portion refers to the canvas house, also depicted and described on a plaque, which served as a base from which the Simcoes embarked upon their forays into the surrounding environs.
There is survey equipment, maps and charts as one might have seen in a surveyors campsite during the time of Governor Simcoe.  See here for more details - It is identified as #7. 

WSIB Simcoe Park Workers Monument

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is the major tenant of Simcoe Place and it is fitting that a memorial to individuals who have lost their lives in construction accidents occupies a prominent street side place in the courtyard.   The WSIB Simcoe Park Workers Monument  consists of 2 pieces.  The first, titled 100 Workers, by John Scott, consists of a series of 100 bronze plaques topping a granite wall. Each plaque represents a year between 1901 and 2000. The first 99 are each engraved with the name and cause of death of one worker who died that year.

John Scott received the first Governor General Award for Visual Arts in April 2000.

Anonymity of Prevention by Derek Lo and Lana Winkler is a life-size sculpture that depicts a construction worker chiseling a message on the granite wall: “Remembering our past…building a safe future.”

The WSIB's Board of Directors commissioned the memorial as a millennium project for Simcoe Park to serve as a daily reminder to everyone of our commitment to the prevention of workplace injury and illness

There is one other piece of art located in Simcoe Park which has nothing to do with John Graves Simcoe or Workman's Health and Safety.  It is a work by British artist Anish Kapoor.  It is a water-jet cut aluminium sculpture and it is untitled.  Looks like a mountain, doesn't it?  A nice place to sit and contemplate the world on a sunny afternoon during lunch break. 

Areal map of CBC and Simcoe Place


  1. The construction memorials will help to make people aware of construction safety. It is sad that so many lives are lost in the construction industry every year.

  2. Hello, Michael - nice to see you visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I appreciate that. I agree, I work nearly across the street from the memorial and during summer there are always lots of folks looking at all the names and I think many are surprised to see how many lives have been lost. Of course, there is a bit more awareness now given the terrible construction accident in Toronto at the end of last year, though I suspect many Torontonians think that was a very isolated incident.


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