Toronto's constantly changing cityscape has seen the comings and goings of many landmarks in the recent past. Over the past few years the countless high-profile developments we have seen come to fruition throughout the downtown core have often overshadowed the less-visible projects involving infrastructure upgrades, renovations or adaptive re-use. These projects see much less exposure on the UT Forum, simply because they are carried out in environments not easily viewed by photographers or members of the public, such as underground (TTC Spadina Subway Extension) or behind closed doors (Imperial Plaza Condos). In one unique situation, a heritage building on Yonge Street was sheathed in tarpaulins during the course of an extensive preservation project to keep construction workers protected from adverse weather. The curtain was lowered last year, revealing the 116 year-old Dineen Building, beautifully restored down to the last detail. Adaptive re-use projects like these are integral in preserving Toronto’s complicated urban mosaic, maintaining the juxtaposition of old and new architectural aesthetics while modernizing aging properties to meet the stringent standards and expectations of today's tenants.

Dineen Building George Robb Architect Empire Restoration Commercial Realty GroupOriginal artist's sketch of the Dineen Building

Located at the corner of Yonge and Temperance, the Dineen Building was originally built in 1897 for use as the office, showroom and workshop of the W.&F. Dineen Company, well known at the time for their fur and hat business. After generations of neglect and a series of unwarranted and detrimental building modifications, architect F.H. Herbert’s classic Dineen Building has been reborn via the efforts of the Commercial Realty Group, along with George Robb Architect and Empire Restoration. We stopped by the newly-restored Dineen Building in late 2012 for the re-opening of the historic structure, and were lucky enough to be provided with an extensive tour of the building, including a look at iQ Office Suites’ innovative boutique office space.

Dineen Building George Robb Architect Empire Restoration Commercial Realty GroupRestored Dineen Building, image by Atlantis

Since our last visit, work has proceeded on a rooftop addition rising from above the building's copper-adorned cornice. Though the new black-glass fifth floor has proven to be controversial among UT members, its inclusion was a necessary element in keeping the project profitable, seen by many as an acceptable trade-off for having the neglected building restored to its former glory. The additional floor will be home to one of the two recently-announced restaurants planned for the Dineen Building.  

Dineen Building George Robb Architect Empire Restoration Commercial Realty GroupRestored Dineen Building, image by Atlantis

The Chase, a collaboration between Steven Salm and Executive Chef Michael Steh, will serve North American cuisine with Italian and French influences, from their panoramic top floor space. Sister restaurant The Chase Fish and Oyster, under the same management, will operate out of the western end of the building's ground floor. The restaurants are expected to seat 100-150 patrons each, filling a void left in the Financial District by the recent closure and demolition of nearby restaurant, South of Temperance, which was cleared to make way for the Bay Adelaide Centre’s new east tower.

Dineen Building George Robb Architect Empire Restoration Commercial Realty GroupRestored Dineen Building, image by Atlantis

Looking for more information? Additional renderings and facts regarding the Dineen Building can be found at the project’s associated dataBase page, linked below. To get involved in the discussion, please visit the related forum thread here, or voice your opinion in the comments section below.