It was a nerve-racking night as gusts of wind nearly derailed years of planning by architects, engineers and builders to lift a SkyBridge up 28 floors.
But 14 hours later, the latest addition to Toronto's downtown skyline was successfully locked in place, linking two Concord Adex highrises, the Parade towers.
"Safety was a huge priority that night," said project manager Jeff Wilkinson, recalling the tense hoist process that began at 9 p.m. on June 25 – a date picked because winds were supposed to be calm.
"Although we had all the best contractors and a design we were really happy with, the winds were pretty strong that day … we had a maximum wind speed that we could hoist in [30 km/h] and we came close to it," said Mr. Wilkinson, a civil engineer.
"The wind died down though as the night went on, but we weren't too sure whether we were going to have to cancel it," he added.
As residents of the condo community of CityPlace turned out to watch, the SkyBridge was hoisted in place. When complete, its first floor will contain a common amenity bar/lounge that will feature glass floor panels, offering a straight-down view that is "scarier than the CN Tower," Mr. Wilkinson says.
Two multi-million-dollar condos will split the second floor, giving their living areas unobstructed views south to Lake Ontario. (The condos' private spaces will be housed in the towers.)
"I'm not aware of anything else like it in North America – a residence on a bridge," Mr. Wilkinson adds.
The Parade towers themselves were used as cranes to hoist the bridge. Before each was sealed off, beams were installed at the top. When it came time for the hoist, the beams were pushed out and cables attached.
"How we were going to lift the bridge had a big impact on how we designed the towers," Mr. Wilkinson said. The bridge could not be part of the original construction because the buildings were erected at different times.
This month final connections will be made, and the SkyBridge's concrete floors will be poured.
"We're pretty proud of what we accomplished," Mr. Wilkinson said.
SkyBridge length: About 40 metres.
Height: About seven metres, or two floors.
Parade towers height: 38 and 49 stories.
Connection point: 28-29-30th stories.
SkyBridge occupancy limit: 100 people.
Completion date: February, 2013.
Design architects: KPF Architects, New York.
Working drawings architect: Page & Steele / IBI Group, Toronto.
Construction company: PCL Constructors Inc.
Steel trusses: Walters Inc.
Glass/soffit/roofing: Flynn Canada Ltd.
Hoist: Western Mechanical.
Concord CityPlace condo development: 20 towers with seven more to be built between the Gardiner Expressway and Front Street West.