Today I got my first look at the strikingly modern new pedestrian bridge recently opened to the public reconnecting the Cadillac Fairview’s Eaton Centre to the Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue flagship location in downtown Toronto. Designed by WilkinsonEyre Architects and Zeidler Partnership Architects, the bridge hovers over Queen Street West replacing the original and outdated 1977 skywalk.
Great thought led to the compelling morph design that took into consideration the more modern, square north entry way from the Eaton Centre to the older, traditional rounded window south side entry located in the Hudson’s Bay. The architects cleverly designed the ‘ribs’ of the bridges structure to morph from the square into the circle, creating an inviting visual pattern that gently twists into the either side of the of the bridge.
The open air feel and lightness is enhanced through the choice of materials – 200 etched bronze panels and 355 slumped glass panels form a gradual transition between the two buildings [source]. Removing the doors on each entry and carpeted floors of the old bridge is as much a great improvement on aesthetics as it is with accessibility (Yorkdale are you listening?). Rushed shoppers as well as disabled patrons will have an effortless transition from one location to the other while protected from the elements.
Another nice detail is the attention paid to the underside of the bridge as seen in the final photo. Etched bronze panels adorn a circular puzzle pattern that offer a subtle but appreciative touch to soften the look of the geometric sharp edges of the exterior. Seeing how people crossing Queen Street West at street level will see this instead of some bland and boring, flat panels is a welcome treat to an already well thought and stunning design.
Here’s hoping the overall positive attention will encourage other bridges and walkways across the city to up their game and offer something more compelling for us all to enjoy (I’m looking at you Yorkdale!).