Wondering what makes Toronto tick?
As one of the perfect examples of a modern city, Toronto has some incredible buildings and structures that appeal to not only Canadians but also people all over the world.
Toronto is one of the most developed and diverse cities you can find. Whether you are a tourist on vacation, a student trying to get into the University of Toronto, or you have just landed a job in one of the companies there, you will find that Toronto has a lot to offer!
Without further ado, let’s look at the most famous buildings and structures you can find in Toronto!
Most Important Buildings and Structures in Toronto
The Allen Lambert Galleria
The Allen Lambert Galleria is an atrium that connects Sam Pollock Square with Bay Street. It is six-story high and has eight free-standing supports on each side that branch out to form a forest-like canopy. This parabolic arched roof is a popular backdrop for many photographers.
You will be mesmerized by the centerpiece in this structure – a circular fountain of steel tubes opening like a flower. It is undoubtedly one of the fascinating architectural designs you will ever see!
The atrium is 14 meters wide, 130 meters long, and 27 meters high.
Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum is the largest museum in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Architects Daniel Libeskind, Frank Darling, and John A. Pearson designed it over a hundred years ago.
It attracts a whopping one million visitors (approximately) each year. But that should come as no surprise, seeing that it is one of the leading museums of world cultures and natural history.
A visit to this museum should take three to four hours on average. There are over 40 galleries and six million items for you to see!
Talking about its architecture, you will be in awe of its striking glass and aluminum structure with zero visible right angles.
Centreville Amusement Park
Centreville Amusement Park is located on the Centre Island, offshore of Toronto. It is a children’s amusement park with over 30 rides and attractions, along with 14 food joints. If you have a young child, it is the perfect summer destination for your family.
It is surrounded by 600 acres of lush greenery. We especially liked how fun it is to get to the park – you have to take a ferry from the harbor to get there!
The park opened in 1967 after replacing the Sunnyside Amusement Park, which closed in 1955. Each building in the park features a village theme in line with 20th-century architecture.
Canadian National Tower
The CN Tower was the tallest building in the world for 34 years before the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was built. It was built in 1976 by architects Roger Du Toit and John Andrews. Standing at 553.2 meters (1,815 feet) high, the CN Tower is visible from every part of Toronto.
The CN Tower was included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. That explains why it gets more than two million visitors every year.
This architectural masterpiece is much more than a telecommunications hub. You can visit the 360 Restaurant or go to the LookOut, Glass Floor, and SkyPod levels to get panoramic views of the city. Or try EdgeWalk to experience an adrenaline rush!
Bata Shoe Museum
The Bata Shoe Museum, as the name suggests, is a footwear museum located in downtown Toronto. It is of immense importance as it is the only museum in North America that is dedicated to footwear and nothing else!
The museum is well-known for collecting, preserving, researching, and exhibiting footwear from all over the world. You can see more than 13,500 items and artifacts related to footwear in this museum.
Raymond Moriyama designed the building in 1995. Its architecture makes it look like an opening shoe box. The Bata Shoe Museum offers exhibitions, performances, lectures, and family events.
Aga Khan Museum
The Aga Khan Museum showcases over 1,000 rare objects of Muslim culture, Iranian art, and Islamic art. Architects Fumihiko Maki, Vladimir Djurovic, and Charles Correa designed it.
The architectural prowess of this structure will leave you awestruck! It is almost like a sundial, in the sense that all of its sides are exposed to sunlight. There is a constant play of light and shadows on the white Brazilian granite surface of this museum.
Inside the building, you will find a courtyard with glass walls having double-layered printed patterns. These walls create a 3D effect.
The museum has classrooms, galleries, exhibition spaces, an auditorium, a restaurant, and a reference library.
Scotia Plaza is Canada’s third tallest skyscraper, standing 275 meters tall. It is a commercial tower located in the center of the city’s financial district. With 68 stories and its posh location, the Scotia Plaza is unmissable in Toronto’s skyline.
The tower boasts of approximately 190,000 square meters of office space and has 40 retail stores as well. The architectural design of this tower features a parallelogram floor plan and six stories below the ground.
The north and south facades of this tower follow a step profile, which has provided corner office spaces on several floors.
Casa Loma is the Spanish translation of “Hill House.” It is a majestic castle that was constructed in 1914 by architect E. J. Lennox. With five acres of gardens and an underground tunnel that connects the castle to the stables and the Hunting Lodge, Casa Loma will surely impress you.
It has a garage and carriage room that features an exhibition of vintage vehicles from the early 1900s. The castle has many rooms and suites, of which the Oak Room and the Conservatory deserve a special mention! The architecture follows a Gothic style overall, making it a unique structure.
It is one of the most popular venues in Toronto for weddings, filming, and several other events.
MaRS Discovery District
The MaRS Discovery District consists of four buildings, with a combined area of approximately 1.5 million square feet in downtown Toronto. The architectural design is beautiful, to say the least!
As a launchpad for startups, MaRS has supported more than 1,200 companies in Canada. It is the largest urban innovation hub in North America. The buildings connect directly to Toronto General Hospital and Queen’s Park subway station.
The MaRS Discovery District was constructed in two phases, with the West Tower (Phase II) completing in 2016. The first phase saw the construction of the Heritage Building, the Atrium, the South Tower, and the Toronto Medical Discovery Tower.
Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario is spread over 45,000 square miles, making it one of the most extensive North American galleries. It houses an array of more than 95,000 works for you to see, including the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this gallery is the Galleria Italia, which is a glass and wood facade that spans over 180 meters across Dundas Street.
The gallery was opened to the public way back in 1900. Major renovations were done more than once after 2000. You will be mesmerized by the sculptural spiral stairwell in Walker Court.
Globe & Mail Centre
The Globe & Mail Centre is a 17-story building in Toronto that serves as headquarters for the Globe & Mail newspaper, one of Canada’s leading news organizations. But it isn’t just an office building, as it provides various catering and rental services.
It is an IACC Certified Venue and is LEED Gold Certified. You will fall in love with its flexible indoor-outdoor spaces that can accommodate up to 400 guests for private celebrations, award shows, receptions, and more.
The Event Hall and Lounge on the topmost floor and its green roof are two of the many highlights of this building. Also, it offers panoramic views of the city!
Toronto City Hall
The Toronto City Hall is one of the most famous landmarks in the city. Architects Viljo Revell and Richard Strong designed it in 1965. The aerial view of this structure looks like a large, open eye.
There is a domed building in between two asymmetrical semi-circular towers. The east tower is 99.5 meters tall, while the west tower is 79.4 meters tall.
The Nathan Phillips Square enhances the beauty of this building in front of it, which has a reflective pool and a fountain. There have been several renovations and additions to this structure, but it still retains most of its original design elements.
The Opera House
The Opera House was one of the first entertainment venues that opened in Toronto. It opened in 1909 and was called the La Plaza Theatre back then. Although it is over a hundred years old, the Opera House remains to be one of the most important performance venues in the city.
It is spread over an area of 12,000 square feet and offers spectacular views from its balcony. You can book it for comedy acts, film shoots, corporate events, television and commercial productions, and fundraising events.
The Opera House has witnessed some legendary shows and artists in the past, including Nirvana and Eminem.
Ernst & Young Tower
The new Ernst & Young (EY) Tower in Toronto is an architectural marvel! It is the perfect blend of old and new, with the Concourse Building (1928) at its base and a modern tower on top of it. The EY Tower has a LEED Platinum certification, which proves it to be a sustainable structure.
With a total area of 84,000 square meters, the EY Tower has 42 floors and measures 188 meters tall. It was designed in 2017 by WZMH Architects and Kohn Pedersen Fox.
We especially liked the 5,000 square-foot outdoor terraces on the 14th floor of this tower.
Canada’s National Ballet School
Canada’s National Ballet School is located on Jarvis Street in Toronto. It opened in 1959 in a smaller space on Maitland Street (which serves as the school’s dining hall now) and subsequently moved to its current location in 2005.
The school underwent a significant expansion in 2007 that cost around 100 million dollars. What makes it special? It is the only ballet school in North America that provides elite training, academic instructions, and residential care under the same roof.
The architects who designed the National Ballet School have won 11 awards for it.
20 Prince Arthur
Prince Arthur Towers is located at 20 Prince Arthur Avenue, near the eastern end of the Annex. The Annex neighborhood is one of the most popular residential communities in Toronto, and many students and artists from the University of Toronto live in the area.
Uno Prii designed the 22-story tower in 1968. It features a large private garden and water-jet fountain. You will find this tower on the list of Toronto’s Inventory of Heritage Properties.
The balconies in the apartments in this building offer panoramic views of the city. It is very close to St. George subway, providing excellent connectivity and commute options.
The Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence
Although you won’t find the entire York University campus to be as impressive as that of the University of Toronto, the Bergeron Centre stands out! It looks nothing like a conventional engineering school, thanks to its unique and innovative architecture.
It was designed by ZAS Architects and officially opened in 2016. The student-centric philosophy behind its design makes it a modern hub for creativity, entrepreneurship, and collaboration. The structure spans across a massive area of 16,000 square meters.
The campus is called the Bergeron Centre in honor of Doug Bergeron, an alumnus of the York University who donated ten million to it.
The L Tower is a 208-meter tall residential skyscraper consisting of 58 floors. The L stands for Libeskind, as Daniel Libeskind designed it. It was made for luxurious living and features top-notch amenities like a library, lounge, private cinema, spa facilities, a 24-hour concierge, and catering kitchens.
It will be challenging to find another residential building that looks as beautiful as the L Tower. Its glass and steel facade gives it an elegant and modern look, which is only enhanced with night lights.
The L Tower is an iconic landmark that can give you several design ideas and inspirations.
Bridgepoint Active Healthcare
Bridgepoint Active Healthcare is an internationally-recognized complex care and rehabilitation hospital in Toronto. The 464-bed structure is affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a member of Sinai Health System.
What makes Bridgepoint so unique, you may ask? It is the only and largest hospital in Canada that focuses on complex health conditions. The campus remains the top-ranked referral site in the GTA.
The hospital underwent a massive renovation and expansion in 2003 when over $200 million were sanctioned to modernize it. The 10-story structure is connected to the old Don Jail by a glass walkway.
Union Station is one of the most must-see places in Toronto. While it was initially a transportation hub, it is fast becoming an engaging civic destination. Even today, it gets more than 300,000 daily visitors to commute through buses, GO trains, the TTC subway system, and the UP Express.
It is the third Union Station of Toronto and is a National Historic Site. People consider it to be one of the most excellent examples of Beaux-Arts architecture style. There are over 30 retailers in the Station, and various events are hosted throughout the year.
If you are looking for a residential tower that offers the best of modern architecture and amenities, few others come close to the Clear Spirit in Toronto. It is located in the Distillery District, a vibrantly restored historic site that spans across 13 acres and consists of several tourist attractions.
The tower has 40 floors and offers more than 350 residential units. Taking inspiration from its neighbor, the Gooderham Building, it features an entire glass and steel structure with wrap-around balconies. It is one of the most energy-efficient and amenity-packed residential towers in Toronto.
The Royal York
The Royal York is one of the largest historic luxury hotels in Toronto. It was designed by Ross and Macdonald, with help from Sproatt and Rolph. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts currently manage it, and some people call it the Fairmont Royal York.
The building consists of 28 floors and measures 124 meters high. It has undergone multiple extensive renovations over the years since it first opened in 1929. There is an underground walkway that connects the hotel to the Union Station and the Royal Bank Plaza.
We especially liked the Concert Hall and the Ballroom, which features exquisite architectural design.
St. James Cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. James is possibly the oldest in the city, with the first parish dating back to 1797. It is located in Downtown Toronto and was designed by Frederick William Cumberland. Being designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, this church building has a ton of historical heritage to boast of!
The tower and spire measure 305 feet high, making it one of the tallest bell towers in the world. The Bells of Old York is a unique set of 12-piece change-ringed bells, one of its kind in North America.
How can we talk about the most famous buildings and structures in Toronto without mentioning the University of Toronto, especially its Convocation Hall! It was constructed by the architecture firm Pearson and Darling in 1907.
The domed rotunda consists of radially planned interiors and curved entablature. The large glass oculus lets sun rays in through the roof to light the large hall. It has a seating capacity of 1,731 and comprises of four stories, which includes two main seating floors.
Although initially built to host annual convocation ceremonies, it is available throughout the year for various academic and social functions.
Scarborough Civic Centre
The Scarborough Civic Centre was designed by Raymond Moriyama and inaugurated in 1973. It is located adjacent to the Albert Campbell Square, which has a reflecting pool with a waterfall. The pool is used as a skating rink in winters.
You will find the unique juxtaposition of two triangular towers around a central open area. The east wing has five floors, while the west wing has four.
The building is used as a recreation center, and you can rent it for charitable and non-profit events and activities.
Canada’s Wonderland is a huge theme park located just 25 miles north of Downtown Toronto. Spreading over a massive area of 134 hectares, it is Canada’s largest theme park. It is also the most visited seasonal amusement park in the whole of North America.
It contains Splash Works, which is a water park spread over eight hectares. The park’s entry area is called International Street and is lined with several shops and restaurants.
If you are an adrenaline junkie, you will be impressed by the number of roller coasters in Canada’s Wonderland. It has 17 roller coasters! The park also hosts various events and festivals that visitors can enjoy throughout the year.
The Gooderham Building
Perhaps one of the most iconic structures in Toronto, the Gooderham Building is an architectural masterpiece. It is also known as the Flatiron Building or “Toronto’s Flat Iron.” David Roberts Jr. designed this triangle-shaped building in 1882.
It is famous for its out-of-the-box shape and the painted mural on its back wall. The mural was painted in 1980 by Derek Besant. The painting gives the illusion of fluttering edges.
In 1975, the Gooderham Building was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.
You probably know the Rogers Centre as the SkyDome, which was its name till 2005. The multi-purpose stadium is primarily used as a sports venue for baseball, basketball, soccer, and more. But it is also hosting other events like concerts, conventions, carnivals, trade fairs, and monster truck shows!
It was one of the first stadiums in the world to have a fully functioning retractable roof. Toronto Blue Jays have been calling it their home since 1989. Its premises also include the Renaissance Hotel, which has 70 rooms overlooking the field.
Some of the most noted attendance records of the Rogers Centre include the Billy Graham Mission Ontario Youth Rally, UFC 129, Canadian Football League, and WWF Wrestlemania X8.
Roy Thomson Hall
The Roy Thomson Hall opened in 1982 in the entertainment district of downtown Toronto. This concert hall is home to the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
What sets the Roy Thomson Hall apart from the majority of nearby structures is its circular architecture. The glass exterior has a curvilinear slope, which gives it a uniquely elegant look.
Arthur Erickson and Mathers and Haldenby designed the structure. It has a capacity of seating 2,630 guests. The most significant renovation to the construction was carried out over six months in 2002 to improve the acoustic quality.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Aquariums are some of the most intriguing structures you can find. And that’s an understatement for the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which holds almost 1.5 million gallons of water. You can expect to see more than 16,000 freshwater and sea specimens from over 450 species.
The aquarium is divided into ten galleries, each having several habitats. You can indulge in unique experiences at this aquarium, like snorkeling with stingrays, scuba diving near sharks, and sleepovers in the Dangerous Lagoon tunnel.
Its roof is the highlight of its architectural design – it will give you the illusion of the earth’s crust peeling off to reveal the aquatic world.
Commerce Court North
The Commerce Court North is one of the leading commercial buildings located in the heart of the Financial District of Toronto. It is the oldest building in the Commerce Court complex, with its construction dating back to 1931. It was designed by Pearson and Darling, with some help from York and Sawyer.
The North Tower is a treasured structure with a rich heritage in Toronto’s financial hub. It features the classic Art-Deco style of design along with a vaulted gold-coffered ceiling that looks stunning. The building is always bustling with activities and events.
Summing It Up
The One is an under-construction skyscraper in Toronto that deserves a special mention. Its construction started in 2017, and it is well on its way to becoming the tallest building in Canada, standing 309 meters tall.
We have tried our best to cover the most important buildings and structures in Toronto you should be knowing, as you can imagine, building in Toronto is no easy feet.
Till next time!