Ivanhoé Cambridge – CIBC SQUARE

Ivanhoe CambridgeIvanhoé Cambridge begins construction on CIBC SQUARE, a project that will leave a lasting impression on Toronto. 

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

Ivanhoé Cambridge, together with its partner Hines, will set a new international standard for office building construction with the completion of CIBC SQUARE in Toronto, a project that far surpasses those of previous development eras. “With three million square feet of AAA office space, world-class architecture, a direct connection to Union Station, Toronto’s transit hub and a one-acre elevated park, CIBC SQUARE will be a stunning addition to Toronto’s skyline,” says Arthur Lloyd, chief development officer, office, North America, and vice chairman.

“Ivanhoé Cambridge is committed to creating working and living spaces that foster the well-being of people and communities, while reducing its environmental footprint,” he continues.

Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge develops and invests in high-quality real estate properties, projects and companies that are shaping the urban fabric in dynamic cities around the world. Through subsidiaries and partnerships, Ivanhoé Cambridge holds interests in more than 1,000 buildings in the residential, office, retail, industrial and logistics real estate sectors. 

The company is a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, one of Canada’s leading institutional fund managers. Ivanhoé Cambridge held more than $60 billion in assets as of December 31, 2017, and has $5 billion in ongoing development projects.


Ivanhoé Cambridge’s CIBC SQUARE project is more than 10 years in the making. The company began to assemble land for the project in 2007, acquiring first a single site southeast of Union Station before adding a second site to the north and gaining the air rights over the railway tracks in between. 

The work has been underway for about one year, with the construction of the south tower starting first and expected to be completed in July 2020. “In order to access the site for the second tower, the existing Go Transit station on the north side of the tracks needs to be relocated into the new transit terminal we are building, that is connected to the south tower,” explains Jonathan Pearce, executive vice president, leasing, office and industrial, North America.Ivanhoe Cambridge box

Both towers will feature 49 floors and 1.5 million square feet of state-of-the-art offices and collaborative spaces with expansive views of Lake Ontario and Toronto’s skyline. CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) is the anchor tenant with 1.75 million square feet leased across both buildings. 

“Starting in July 2019, we will be turning the first building over to CIBC, which has leased the bottom 34 floors,” Pearce says. “The building officially opens July 1, 2020, and we are on schedule.” 

Construction of the second tower will begin in May 2020, with a slightly longer schedule because it has a portion cantilevered over the rail corridor. First occupancy in the second tower is expected to be in November 2023. 

“As the CIBC employees are presently housed in a collection of real estate in a variety of locations and qualities, the goal was to bring everyone together, because like all of us, CIBC is competing for talent and to be an employer of choice,” Pearce says.

“We were able to offer CIBC a true urban campus, strategically located in the heart of the financial district and with a direct connection to Union Station, the region’s single multi-modal hub,” he adds. “There is not another site like it in Toronto.”

Ivanhoé Cambridge is also creating green space between the two buildings, developing an elevated one-acre park over the rail corridor.

“To have an acre of green space within a city-centre real estate project is unheard of,” Pearce notes. “In order to show CIBC how we could build over the railway tracks, we arranged for them to visit River Point in Chicago, a similar type of construction that we completed in 2016 with the same partner, Hines. This was literally proof of concept.”

Sophisticated Skyline Addition

UK-based WilkinsonEyre Architects, in collaboration with Adamson Associates, designed CIBC SQUARE. Lloyd says he expects it will be a new Toronto landmark. 

“CIBC SQUARE is an ambitious, forward-thinking undertaking that is set to redefine the Toronto skyline and the entire downtown experience,” he says. “It will undoubtedly become an iconic architectural landmark and one of the city’s premier business addresses.” 

The towers are characterized by an elegant curtain wall of diamond-shaped extrusions that Pearce says will create interesting light reflection. “We held a global architectural competition, because it’s not a commodity box-type building,” he adds. “These towers will stand out not just in size and scale, but also because its views will be preserved as it is built abutting the rail corridor.” 

CIBC SQUARE is engineered to LEED Platinum and WELL environmental performance standards. It was designed not just for resource efficiency, but also with its users’ health, wellness and quality of life uppermost in mind. The HVAC is designed to handle 100 square feet per person on a typical office floor and 75 square feet per person on a podium floor. 

In addition to the park, CIBC SQUARE will offer a high-end fitness facility, secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities to accommodate active lifestyles. The complex will also offer a food court with casual and fine-dining restaurant options. 

Ivanhoé Cambridge has partnered with Hines both as development manager and 50/50 equity partner and with EllisDon to oversee the construction of CIBC SQUARE. 

“We have top-quality people accustomed to working in demanding conditions in different markets,” Pearce says. “As investors, we feel confident we have the right team on the job and we have very high ethical, accountability and safety standards.” 

Excellence in Leasing

Just one year after construction began, the south tower of CIBC SQUARE is more than 80 percent leased. Although CIBC has preleased approximately half of the second tower, Pearce expects the leasing window for the remaining space to be from 2019 to 2022 because smaller tenants aren’t looking as far ahead to lease space. 

CIBC SQUARE received the Office Lease of the Year award at the 2018 Real Estate Excellence (REX) Awards held by the Commercial Real Estate Development Association of Greater Toronto (NAIOP). The competition recognizes and celebrates the achievements of the office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate industry in the Greater Toronto Area. 

“As the leasing guy, I have to say I am most proud of the rent roll,” Pearce says. “We signed one of the largest leases in Canadian history at 1.75 million square feet, and we did it in a relatively short time. In addition, we are going to leave a lasting imprint on the Toronto skyline that we are immensely proud of. City building is very important to us, and it’s our responsibility to create a lasting legacy.”

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