Concourse Building – One of Toronto Most Magnificent Entryways

1928 - The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St
1928 – The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 3)

The Concourse Building, part of the EY Tower, is located at 100 Adelaide St W (at Sheppard St on the northwest corner) in the Financial District of downtown Toronto. While today’s Concourse Building is a replica of the 1928 structure, it features several elements from the original gem.

The 1928 Concourse Building

Henry Falk commissioned architects Baldwin and Greene to design the initial 16-storey structure. Concourse, which means “a gathering together,” was an elegant Art Deco-style office building.

J.E.H. MacDonald, whose artwork depicted Canadian wildlife and industry, created the building’s decorations. This included the stunning Romanesque entryway.

2021 - The mosaic and panels over the arched entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower - designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, they represent Canadian wildlife and industry
2021 – The mosaic and panels over the arched entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower – designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, they represent Canadian wildlife and industry

Over the arched entrance is a mosaic representing the gathering of the elements, including air, earth, fire, and water. The symbolism is continued in the soffit panels and includes an airplane, ship, dove, plough with wheatsheaf, deer with birds, steam shovel and electric power. The archway also features detailed stonework.

A founding member of The Group of Seven, J.E.H. MacDonald, adorned the exterior of the building with Art Deco decorations. The building’s clean lines drew the eye upward to the gleaming parapets on the south and east sides. They were crowned with brightly hued shades of gold, scarlet, blue, green and white patterned tiles in geometric forms alongside decorative stone details. And, soaring high on the west side, were two eagles and a sunburst made of glazed masonry.

The Canadian motifs were extended into the lobby. The ceilings featured beautiful murals with geese, ducks and deer.

1928 - The elevator lobby in the original Concourse Building - notice the quotes by Canadian poets inscribed into the marble walls along with the ceiling artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald
1928 – The elevator lobby in the original Concourse Building – notice the quotes by Canadian poets inscribed into the marble walls along with the ceiling artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 4)

Quotes by Canadian Poets

While businesspeople waited for an elevator in the main lobby, they could read eight quotes by eight Canadian poets inscribed into the upper portion of the marble walls. The verses were meant to relieve stress. Some of the quotes included:

  • Charles GD Roberts wrote “Life is good and love is eager. In the playground of the Sun.”
  • Katherine Hale wrote “I wish that some quaint miracle Might happen even today, Whereby the universe should speak And men kneel down and pray.”
  • Duncan Campbell Scott wrote “Peoples are reaped and garnered as the grain, And that alone prevails which is the truth.”
  • Theodore H Rand wrote “The years are wise though the days are foolish.”
  • Bliss Carman wrote “The eternal slaves of beauty Are masters of the world.”

1929 Concourse Building Newspaper Ads

“Here, at the hub of the “new skyline” zone, the CONCOURSE is close to all downtown business but dodges traffic congestion. Ultra-modern offices in luxurious surroundings. Daylight suites, 400 to 5,300 sq ft on a floor, now renting at terms representing exceptional values.”

“The austerity of eternal gray which pervades our streets is relieved in this building with a lovely warmth of gold. An office in this building will be more than an office.”

2021 - The artwork of J.E.H. MacDonald that once adorned the ceiling of the original Concourse Building, now decorates the vestibule ceiling of EY Tower
2021 – The artwork of J.E.H. MacDonald that once adorned the ceiling of the original Concourse Building, now decorates the vestibule ceiling of EY Tower

Throughout the Decades

The Concourse Building underwent renovations over the years. Pieces, including the inscribed verses in the elevator lobby, were removed, and for decades the decorative ceilings were covered up. The Concourse Building received heritage status in 1973.

In the late 1990s, Oxford Properties Group purchased the heritage site. After talk of demolishing the building, much discussion and a heritage study, in 2013, the ageing Concourse Building was dismantled. J.E.H. MacDonald’s original mosaics, stonework, ceilings, patterned tiles and brick art were retained as well as the building’s three-storey base and green spandrels.

Construction on the Concourse Building’s replica facades and the EY Tower soon began. WZMH Architects designed the tower in association with the New York City-based architectural firm of Kohn Pederson Fox. ERA Architects and GBCA Architects, heritage perseveration companies, oversaw various restoration stages.

2021 - Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St towards the new Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 – Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St towards the new Concourse Building at EY Tower

The Rise of EY Tower

In 2017, the EY Tower (Ernst & Young), a 40-storey glass and steel structure that stands behind and over the replica facades of the Concourse Building was completed. Also known as “facadism,” the new Concourse Building’s south and east facades were reconstructed to match Baldwin and Greene’s original design and building height; however, it has 13 floors instead of 16 to increase the floor to ceiling heights.

Conserved off-site, J.E.H. MacDonald’s historical elements were restored then reassembled into the new Concourse Building. Many pieces were replaced in their original location except for the eagles and sunset brickwork and the interior ceilings. Now on the north side exterior of the EY Tower, the eagles and sunburst were relocated to the ground floor. The ceilings are on display as art installations inside the limestone-clad lobby, while one featuring ducks winging their way across the sky adorns the vestibule ceiling.

Did You Know?

  • In 1929, the sophistocated Concourse Building had its grand opening. That same year, the stock market crashed, and The Great Depression was soon to begin.
  • Facadism or facadomy is the process of preserving the façade of an older building while constructing a new building behind, above or inside it.

Concourse Building Photos

1928 - The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St
1928 – The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 3)
2021 - Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St towards the new Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 – Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St towards the new Concourse Building at EY Tower
2020 - The magnificent metalwork, mosaics and stone detail of the arched entryway at the Concourse Building, part of EY Tower
2020 – The magnificent metalwork, mosaics and stone detail of the arched entryway at the Concourse Building, part of EY Tower
2021 - The mosaic over the entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower was designed by J.E.H. MacDonald - it represents the gathering of the elements: air, earth, fire and water
2021 – The mosaic over the entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower was designed by J.E.H. MacDonald – it represents the gathering of the elements: air, earth, fire and water
2021 - The mosaic panels in the soffit of the arched entryway of the Concourse Building at EY Tower - designed by J.E.H. MacDonald they depict: airplane, ship, dove, plough with wheatsheaf, deer with birds, steam shovel and electric power
2021 – The mosaic panels in the soffit of the arched entryway of the Concourse Building at EY Tower – designed by J.E.H. MacDonald they depict: airplane, ship, dove, plough with wheatsheaf, deer with birds, steam shovel and electric power
2021 - Looking towards the vestibule and arched entryway of EY Tower
2021 – Looking towards the vestibule and arched entryway of EY Tower
2021 - The artwork of J.E.H. MacDonald that once adorned the ceiling of the original Concourse Building, now decorates the vestibule ceiling of EY Tower
2021 – The artwork of J.E.H. MacDonald that once adorned the ceiling of the original Concourse Building, now decorates the vestibule ceiling of EY Tower
2021 - The minimalist design of the lobby at EY Tower - artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald, that was once on the ceiling of the original Concourse Building is on display
2021 – The minimalist design of the lobby at EY Tower – artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald, that was once on the ceiling of the original Concourse Building is on display
1928 - The elevator lobby in the original Concourse Building - notice the quotes by Canadian poets inscribed into the marble walls along with the ceiling artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald
1928 – The elevator lobby in the original Concourse Building – notice the quotes by Canadian poets inscribed into the marble walls along with the ceiling artwork by J.E.H. MacDonald (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 4)
2021 - Designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, a Group of Seven artist, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building - it's on display as an art installation in the lobby of EY Tower
2021 – Designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, a Group of Seven artist, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building – it’s on display as an art installation in the lobby of EY Tower
2021 - Now on display as an art installation at EY Tower, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building - it was designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, a Group of Seven artist
2021 – Now on display as an art installation at EY Tower, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building – it was designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, a Group of Seven artist
2021 - Now on display as an art installation at EY Tower, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building - it was designed by The Group of Seven artist, J.E.H. MacDonald
2021 – Now on display as an art installation at EY Tower, this is a part of the ceiling that once hung in the lobby of the original Concourse Building – it was designed by The Group of Seven artist, J.E.H. MacDonald
1980s/90s - The sunburst and eagle glazed masonry on the west side of the original Concourse Building
1980s/90s – The sunburst and eagle glazed masonry on the west side of the original Concourse Building (City of Toronto Archives, Ontario Historical Board Fonds, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 38)
2021 - The glazed masonry eagles and sunburst, now located on the ground floor at the north side of the building - they were once located on the original Concourse Building's upper west facade
2021 – The glazed masonry eagles and sunburst, now located on the ground floor at the north side of the building – they were once located on the original Concourse Building’s upper west facade
2021 - One of two glazed masonry eagles which are now located on the north side of the EY Tower, on the ground floor - they were once located on the upper west facade of the original Concourse Building
2021 – One of two glazed masonry eagles which are now located on the north side of the EY Tower, on the ground floor – they were once located on the upper west facade of the original Concourse Building
2021 - The glazed masonry sunburst, now located on the ground floor at the north side of the EY Tower, was once located on the upper west facade of the original Concourse Building
2021 – The glazed masonry sunburst, now located on the ground floor at the north side of the EY Tower, was once located on the upper west facade of the original Concourse Building
2021 - The walkway on the north side of the EY Tower - notice the glazed masonry eagles and sunburst which were once located on the original Concourse Building's upper west facade
2021 – The walkway on the north side of the EY Tower – notice the glazed masonry eagles and sunburst which were once located on the original Concourse Building’s upper west facade
1980s/90s - The upper south facade of the original Concourse Building - notice the tile patterning and stonework decoration
1980s/90s – The upper south facade of the original Concourse Building – notice the tile patterning and stonework decoration (City of Toronto Archives, Ontario Historical Board Fonds, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 12)
2021 - A view of the upper portion of the new Concourse Building - notice the original tiles and their Art Deco, geometric patterning along with the original colouring of the spandrel panels between the floors
2021 – A view of the upper portion of the new Concourse Building – notice the original tiles and their Art Deco, geometric patterning along with the original colouring of the spandrel panels between the floors
2021 - The restored tile and elements on the parapets from the original Concourse Building, designed by The Group of Seven artist, J.E.H. MacDonald
2021 – The restored tile and elements on the parapets from the original Concourse Building, designed by The Group of Seven artist, J.E.H. MacDonald
1928 - An aerial view looking northeast towards the Concourse Building located at 100 Adelaide St W
1928 – An aerial view looking northeast towards the Concourse Building located at 100 Adelaide St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 2)
2021 - Looking north towards the Concourse Building and EY Tower at Adelaide St W and Sheppard St, northwest corner
2021 – Looking north towards the Concourse Building and EY Tower at Adelaide St W and Sheppard St, northwest corner
1980s/90s- The Concourse Building, looking northeast from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 1)
1980s/90s- The Concourse Building, looking northeast from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Ontario Historical Board Fonds, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 1)
2020 - The Concourse Building incorporated into the EY (Ernst & Young) Tower, looking northeast from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St
2020 – The Concourse Building incorporated into the EY (Ernst & Young) Tower, looking northeast from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St
1945 - Looking east along Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St - the Concourse Building is on the left
1945 – Looking east along Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St – the Concourse Building is on the left (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 1)
1972 - The corner of the Concourse Building at Adelaide St W and Sheppard St
1972 – The corner of the Concourse Building at Adelaide St W and Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 841, File 10, Item 30)
1980s/90s - The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St
1980s/90s – The original Concourse Building, looking northwest from Adelaide St W towards Sheppard St (City of Toronto Archives, Ontario Historical Board Fonds, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 5)
1928 - The Romanesque entryway of the Concourse Building
1928 – The Romanesque entryway of the Concourse Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 444, Item 15)
1980s/90s - The entrance of the original Concourse Building at 100 Adelaide St W
1980s/90s – The entrance of the original Concourse Building at 100 Adelaide St W (City of Toronto Archives, Ontario Historical Board Fonds, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 7, Item 8)
2021 - The stunning arched entryway of the new Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 – The stunning arched entryway of the new Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 - The beautiful stone detail around the arched entryway of the Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 – The beautiful stone detail around the arched entryway of the Concourse Building at EY Tower
2021 - The mosaic and panels over the arched entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower - designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, they represent Canadian wildlife and industry
2021 – The mosaic and panels over the arched entrance of the Concourse Building at EY Tower – designed by J.E.H. MacDonald, they represent Canadian wildlife and industry
2015 - Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St during the construction of EY Tower (Google Maps)
2015 – Looking northwest from Adelaide St W and Sheppard St during the construction of EY Tower (Google Maps)
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