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About Sickkids
About SickKids

July 30, 2010

The Big Dig

Construction of SickKids’ new Research & Learning Tower is well under way at the corner of Bay and Elm streets. The groundbreaking ceremony took place May 4 at 11 a.m., and digging started just hours later. According to schedule, the new home for scientists and educators at SickKids will be ready for occupancy in August, 2013.

The 21-storey tower is one of the single largest capital projects dedicated to child health research in the world. It is also the tallest building to date funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Our design team was led by Diamond + Schmitt Architects, highly acclaimed for their work on public sector buildings. Clad in custom-made, blue-tone glass, the Tower will be a spectacular landmark at the eastern gateway to Toronto’s Discovery District. With its openness and visibility, the Tower will help to demystify the nature of research activity, says principal architect, Donald Schmitt.

The Tower will be a pillar of the SickKids campus, facilitating interaction among researchers who will be collaborating in seven multi-storey research neighbourhoods that focus on:

    • Molecules, Therapies & Infectious Diseases
    • Cancer, Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
    • Genetics & Genomics in Child Health
    • Patients, Populations & Policy
    • Organ Systems & Disease
    • Brain & Behaviour
    • Clinical Research

Established in 1954, SickKids Research Institute is one of North America’s largest hospital-based research institutes. It is an integral part of SickKids, employing more than 2,000 of SickKids’ approximately 8,000 staff. The new building will bring all research staff under one roof, while conferences, training and other activities of the SickKids Learning Institute will take place in the Learning Concourse on the first two floors of the building.

Day by day, the activity at the building site is increasing. Trucks are coming and going with concrete, supplies and granular material, and hoardings around the site have been erected, displaying architects’ renderings of the new building as well as questions from children with answers by SickKids scientists. Currently there are about 100 people on site; the number will grow to more than 400 by next August when the site will be at its busiest with trades people employed inside and outside.

In July the first of two large cranes went up. They will stay until the exterior structure is completed and an elevator built in the summer of 2012. In coming months, contractors will excavate soil to a depth of 13 metres. While 39,000 cubic metres of soil will be removed, a total of 45,000 cubic metres of concrete will poured for the entire project. In other words, says SickKids project director Flemming Galberg, you could fill the entire basement – three levels of underground parking garage – with the concrete that will be needed for the building. The below-the-ground construction will be completed by year end.

The project is aiming to meet the requirements necessary for LEEDR Gold certification – the international Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program that promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. To meet LEED standards, SickKids has hired a full-time consultant who will be on site during the entire project to verify that construction follows guidelines – for example, that garbage from the building site is free of toxins.

There are several ways to stay informed about the construction project.