A green phoenix rises at Exhibition Place, with the opening of Canada’s newest and greenest convention centre.
When it opened to the public in 1929, the Automotive Building was considered a modern marvel: eighty years later, restored, refurbished, rebuilt and renamed the Allstream Centre, the building combines state-of-the art technology and cutting edge design with environmental responsibility and sustainability. The exterior of the building has been restored to its 1929 classical glory and many art deco heritage features in the interior showcase its illustrious past. Restored in record time of 19 months and at a cost of $46 million, the Centre’s pivotal location inside the Princes’ Gates provides a magisterial entrance to Exhibition Place in downtown Toronto.
The greenest and most energy-efficient conference facility in Canada, Allstream Centre’s 160,000 sq. ft. will serve as a flagship meeting and convention destination centre and as a go-to venue for galas and special events. Among the highlights are the largest ballroom in Toronto, in which 3,000 guests may be comfortably seated for breakfast, lunch or dinner and 20 second floor meeting rooms accommodating between 50 and 750 delegates who can enjoy natural light through large windows providing excellent vistas onto the city and the waterfront. An underground walkway links the Centre to underground parking and Direct Energy Centre. The Centre is wheelchair accessible.
In officially opening the Centre today, His Worship Mayor David Miller stated “The preservation of this important building serves as a vital link between past and present. This is a true celebration of our 175th birthday when we both honor our past and look towards the future. I hope all Toronto citizens will accept our invitation to visit the Centre on Sunday, October 25 from 1pm – 3pm to enjoy and take pride in this spectacular building.”
Also participating in the official ceremonies, Chairman of Exhibition Place, Councillor Joe Pantalone stated “On behalf of the Board of Governors of Exhibition Place, I am particularly proud that Allstream Centre showcases in such a dramatic manner the best of our city. As a vital part of Exhibition Place and a key element in tourism, Allstream Centre will contribute significantly to the economic and cultural fabric of our city.”
“FCM’s Green Municipal fund offers a range of resources and services that specifically address the sustainable community development needs of municipal governments,” said Federation of Canadian Municipalities President, and mayor of Summerside, P.E.I., Basil Stewart. “FCM is very proud to support the development of communities that are more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable by approving $2.3 million in financing for the Allstream Centre’s LEED certification efforts.”
The Architectural Challenge
The existing exhibition hall was transformed into a class A conference centre serving the exacting demands of the modern meetings and convention industry for ballrooms, prefunction and meeting rooms; at the same time all spaces meet the environmental goals of Exhibition Place and respect the 1929 heritage.
At the core of the building is the 43,900 sq. ft., column free ballroom which can be divided into two rooms and is served by pre-function rooms, a 8.000 sq. ft. kitchen, and spacious lounges and lobbies. The second floor meeting rooms allow multiple meeting configurations for guests and feature minimal sound transmission, a spacious sun filled corridor with lakeviews and five lounges.
Environmental Sustainability and Responsibility
Targeting to be the first LEED silver certified conference building in Canada, Allstream Centre serves as a model in its 100% green power policies. Numerous elements of the Centre reinforce the commitment to energy conservation in all aspects of building construction and ongoing operations. Highlights include the innovative white reflective roof, the improved indoor air quality through CO2 sensors and the use of low VOC paints, carpets and adhesives. Food service will include locally grown food and a perishable food donation program. Demolished materials and construction waste were diverted from landfill to recycling facilities, in accordance with LEED criteria.
Respect for the building’s historical integrity is evident in the restoration and retention of heritage aspects, including the recapturing of the dramatic arrival experience in both the north and south lobbies. The Terrazzo floored lobbies, restoration of flooring, walls and ceilings to their original appearance and colors, restoration of the original iron stair railings, refurbishment of the tulip shaped Art Deco lighting fixtures: all add to the luminous atmosphere of the Centre. New contemporary design elements also complement the old; these include the 40 ft. high travertine relief wall, the heritage iron railing in the main hall and the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design in the ceiling in the ballroom.
Heritage Panels welcome visitors in the north lobby, providing vivid memories of the building’s past, and documenting its transformation.
The Design and Construction team for Allstream Centre includes:
- Owner: board of Governors of Exhibition Place
- Architect: NORR Limited
- Contractor: VanBots Construction, a division of Carillion Construction Inc.
- LEED Energy Efficiency and Building Energy Monitoring Consultant: Enermodal Engineering
- Heritage Architect: E.R.A.
105 Princes’ Blvd,
Exhibition Place, Toronto M6K 3C3
Tel 416 263-3000
Fax 416 263-3029
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For further media information, contact:
Tel (416) 977-2576
Cell (647) 284-7428
For sales and marketing information contact:
Allstream Centre/ Exhibition Place