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After years of planning, Concord Adex, PCL complete sophisticated engineering feat

Preparing the 40-metre-long SkyBridge for lift. Built of steel, glass and aluminum, the two-floor structure was built to connect two Toronto highrises 28 stories up.

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Connection points on the two Parade towers at CityPlace, the new downtown condo neighbourhood developed by Concord Adex. Beams jut out atop the 38- and 49-storey towers. Installed before the buildings were sealed off, they were pushed out when time came to hoist the SkyBridge.

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The towers themselves were used as cranes. The 14-hour hoist process began at 9 p.m. on June 25. The date was picked from historical data because the winds were supposed to be calm.

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But that night, strong wind gusts almost cancelled the lift. “We had a maximum wind speed that we could hoist in [30 km/h] and we came close to it,” project manager Jeff Wilkinson says. As the process went on, the winds died down.

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The SkyBridge reaches its final destination the next day at the 28th, 29th and 30th stories. “How we were going to lift the bridge had a big impact on how we designed the towers,” Mr. Wilkinson says.

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Hoist expert Western Mechanical put four cranes on duty the night of the lift to provide stability against the wind. In the end, the lift process “went pretty smooth, right on schedule,” Mr. Wilkinson said.

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The SkyBridge in place – the result of about three years of planning by architects, engineers and builders. The PCL construction team included glass experts Flynn Canada Ltd. and steel experts Walters Inc. “because we needed to get a lot of practical sub-contractor input,” Mr. Wilkinson added.

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Once complete, two luxury condo suites will split the top floor of the SkyBridge. “I’m not aware of anything like it in North America – a residence on a bridge,” Mr. Wilkinson says. The multi-million-dollar residences will be almost 4,000 square feet each.

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Living spaces and kitchens on the bridge will offer views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario. Private spaces will be contained in the towers.

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An interior connection point between a tower and the SkyBridge. Over-engineered to be stable, the SkyBridge will have a 100-person limit.

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Glass floor cutouts offer a view down 28 floors from the first floor of the SkyBridge – home to a common amenity bar/lounge for the Parade towers. “It’s almost scarier than the CN Tower … it looks straight down at the pedestrian mews, a parkway and retail on either side,” Mr. Wilkinson says.

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The SkyBridge at night. Final connections are being made this month. Concrete floors will be poured and the interior completed, with opening scheduled for February, 2013.

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