The CF Eaton Centre Bridge revitalises a connection between two shopping malls in downtown Toronto by providing an attractive, landmark pedestrian crossing above the street. The brief required a new enclosed bridge to replace an outdated and inefficient span between two important shopping destinations. The design had to resolve a disparity between the architecture of the historic Hudson’s Bay Centre and the 1970s Eaton Centre. The springing points for the bridge were predefined – emerging from the existing arches of the older building on one side, and on the other, taking the opportunity to move the landing point at the Eaton Centre from a hidden position into the more prominent main atrium.
The benefit would be three-fold; efficiency of movement, a more enjoyable experience for visitors, and minimising the gradient of the crossing. The form of the bridge and choice of materials now create a metaphorical “handshake” between the two buildings at first floor level. The architectural response is a graded shift, through geometry, from a traditional arch in the façade of the Hudson Bay building to a modern rectangular opening in the Eaton centre; the twisting, warping form accommodating two very different architectures.
The bridge enclosure – graded strips contrasting bronze cladding and clear glass – also marks the change from the solid architecture of the traditional building to the all glass Eaton Centre. Lining the cladding are extruded aluminium profiles which follow the twisting geometry of the bridge as it spans across the street. These profiles contain heat traced cables which reduce the risk of ice building up in winter and falling off onto the sidewalk below.
The new bridge interior suitably reflects the quality retail environments of both malls. The glazing provides excellent views along Queen Street and promotes natural daylighting. Providing a light and spacious crossing between the two buildings, the bridge is a functional and beautiful addition to the public realm, and a new civic landmark.