The SFC Bridge, A public art and infrastructural collaboration with Marman and Borins. Toronto, ON 2015. Aluminum panels and curtain wall on steel structure, with painted mural interior. demonstrates how creative collaborations can bring playful and unprecedented experiences to urban infrastructure. Officially completed in February, 2015, the project combines public art and architecture to transform a pedestrian access point into a striking landmark.
A folded ribbon of black metal panels crosses above Lower Simcoe Street in Toronto, weaving and binding the Delta Hotel with the Metro Convention Centre and the PATH network. It presented us with an opportunity to connect Toronto’s PATH network, which is mostly underground, to the city. We asked whether this bridge could be both a path and a place.
Due to site circumstances, the bridge takes a 120-degree turn and has a five-percent slope. These geometries were mandated in the project brief and we saw potential in their non-orthogonality. The black ribbons are connected to the intrinsic form of the bridge, binding its bend, sloping floors and trusses into a holistic design solution that embodies tension, movement, and transition.
The truss, a material fact of this project, drives its expression. But not in a modernist manner — in which structure is not expressed self-referentially as structure — here, it is an abstract generator of spatial experiences. The truss’s form generates the ribbons, which frame a collection of triangular openings that episodically present key views of the city. The windows bathe the truss and the shifting geometric forms of the interior with triangulations of light, bringing a new kind of spatial experience to the PATH network. Running through this zigzagging scheme are light metallic panels moving in linear incremental measures.
The patterning inside of the bridge complements and challenges its exterior. Diagonal forms traverse and dance with the inner logic of the structure. This dazzling pattern tilts and twists the rational truss form, enhancing the pointed turn the bridge takes. The dazzling energy of the interior pattern, which expands one’s spatial experience when crossing the bridge, is bound firmly in place by the super-structural black bands of the bridge’s envelope.
Cohesively, as we walk along the bridge, we are told a story of engineered suspension, architecture in multiple orientations, and art in all the bridge’s components. From point A to point B, we highlight the major themes of the Delta tower and add a landmark to its site.
The SFC Bridge demonstrates how creative collaborations can bring playful and unprecedented experiences to urban infrastructure. Officially completed in 2015, the project combines public art and architecture to transform an access point into a striking landmark.
As cities collaborate with private developments to install pedestrian-friendly access in areas that are dominated by industrial and transportation infrastructure, how to make human-scale access inviting, sustainable, and vibrant is a typical problem. We answered the challenge presented by the developers of Toronto’s Southcore Financial Center with a design that energetic addition to the emerging district. The team won the commission through an international competition in 2012, and developed the project with architects of record Page + Steele / IBI Group Architects and structural engineers C2M Hill.
The SFC bridge is part of Toronto’s underground PATH network, which recently expanded above ground to create year-round pedestrian walkways over and through elevated rail lines and expressways. Connecting the new Delta Hotel to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the bridge offers a unique pedestrian experience to the south edge of the financial district. Sloping upwards from the Delta Hotel, the bridge takes a 120-degree turn to connect with the existing Convention Center SkyWalk (built in 1989). Its distinctive, diagonal form echoes the older Skywalk, which takes a similar angled turn.
Dark aluminum panels wrap the bridge’s exterior, following its structural trusses, to bind its integral slopes and bends. The kinetic, material interplay of wrapping and binding reflects the bridge’s role in connecting disparate realms of the city. Between the bands, triangular windows cast graphic shapes of light and shadow on the bridge’s interior. Stimulating the curiosity of passersby, they frame views of the urban backdrop, offering pedestrians a dynamic visual experience while crossing the bridge.
As a contemporary spin on dazzle camouflage, a digital mural treatment that extends across its walls and ceiling echoes the trapezoids, diagonals, and triangles in the bridge’s structure to produce a kinetic, multi-perspectival experience.
The SFC Bridge provides an imaginative solution to pedestrian mobility by offering an experience of architecture as art to daily visitors in Toronto’s Southcore Financial District. Supported by a partnership between the City of Toronto and the PATH Network, the SFC Bridge demonstrates the innovative and transformative potential of using everyday infrastructure to showcase cutting–edge art and design.
Project name: SFC Bridge
Location: 75 Lower Simcoe St, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3L9, Canada
Coordinates: 43.643160, -79.384219
Type: Street / Road / Highways / Bridges
Completion Year: February, 2015
Client / Owner / Developer: Southcore Financial Centre
- Architects: FIRM AD – New York, United States
- Artist: Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins – Toronto, Canada
Project Architect: Jonathan Berg
Executive Architects: Page + Steele/ IBI Group Toronto
Principal: Mansoor Kazerouni
Structural Engineers: CH2M Hill
Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: Hidi Rae
Lighting Consultants: Mulvey & Banani Lighting Design
Text Description: © Courtesy of FIRM AD
Images: © FIRM AD, Andrew Rowatt