Photos: James Bombales
Toronto has its fair share of noteworthy buildings designed by prominent Canadian architects. Its rich architectural heritage is evident in the various styles found throughout the city, from the Victorian-era industrial buildings in the Distillery District, the classic Beaux Arts-style of Union Station and the landmark CN Tower that defines the city skyline. And while many of these buildings were envisioned by talented Canadian architects -- Frank Gehry’s dramatic transformation of the Art Gallery of Ontario comes to mind -- Toronto is also home to a diverse collection of works by international talents.
We’ve rounded up a selection the most famous Toronto buildings that were designed by international architects. Check out our photo tour below.
Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, extension to Royal Ontario Museum
Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Named for businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee Chin for his $30 million donation, the stunning crystal-like addition to the Royal Ontario Museum was designed by Polish-born, American starchitect Daniel Libeskind.
L Tower and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Located at the southeast end of the downtown core, Daniel Libeskind’s second Toronto area project introduced a bold new design to the city’s booming condominium scene.
Architect: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
German-born Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a master of minimalism and a pioneer of the modernist architectural style. His ‘skin and bones’ design philosophy which emphasized the use of steel structures and glass enclosures proved that simple and uncluttered could be bold and beautiful.
CIBC Commerce Court West
Architect: I.M. Pei
While the world renowned Louvre Pyramid may be his most famous project, Chinese-born Pritzker Prize-winning architect Ieoh Ming Pei’s shiny glass skyscraper in Toronto is a major component of the city’s downtown core.
Sharp Centre for Design, Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD)
Architect: Will Alsop
Designing an addition to an educational institution dedicated to art and design can be a challenge. Stick with the status quo and risk being called boring, or stray from the norm and risk being controversial.
Allen Lambert Galleria
Architect: Santiago Calatrava
Although it’s not exactly a building, there’s no denying that the Allen Lambert Galleria is a bonafide Toronto landmark -- just search ‘brookfieldplace’ on Instagram.
University of Toronto Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Architect: Norman Foster
Home to beautiful examples of Romanesque and Gothic Revival styles, the University of Toronto’s downtown campus is filled with notable examples of architecture. Mixed in with the 19th and early 20th century era buildings is the school’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.
Toronto City Hall
Architect: Viljo Revell
Named in honour of Toronto’s 52nd mayor, Nathan Phillips Square is the city’s central gathering spot for major events and celebrations. The 12 acre site includes a permanent concert stage, a reflecting pool/skating rink, and the two City Hall towers designed by Finnish architect Viljo Revell. Comprised of a 27 storey east tower, 20 storey west tower, and a central Council Chamber, the futuristic, curved concrete design was chosen as the winner of an international competition held in 1957 by then Mayor Nathan Phillips.
Absolute World Mississauga
Architect: Yansong Ma
While the Absolute World towers are actually located 30 minutes west of Toronto in the neighbouring city of Mississauga, we just had to include them in our list. They were, after all, voted best international residence building by ArchDaily readers in 2012 and recognized as the ‘Best Tall Building in the Americas’ by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).
First Canadian Place
Architect: Edward Durrell Stone
Built in 1975 by American architect Edward Durell Stone, the 72-storey, white marble-clad office building is the country’s tallest tower -- outside of the CN Tower -- and remains a fixture in Toronto’s skyline.
Aga Khan Museum
Architect: Fumihiko Maki
Japanese Pritzker Prize-winning Fumihiko Maki’s Aga Khan Museum is one of Toronto’s newest architectural gem. Completed in 2014, the Brazilian granite-clad museum was built to house a permanent collection of over 1,000 objects and artefacts of Muslim history and culture.
Outside, the building’s soft white facade is accented by manicured lawns designed by landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic featuring rows of serviceberry trees and black reflecting pools that mirror its elegant shapes and lines.