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Toronto City Hall Competition

Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

As Pei’s office was already working in Canada on Place Ville Marie in Montreal (designed by Pei’s partner, Henry Cobb), it was decided to join the international design competition for Toronto City Hall. The entry was submitted in April 1958, barely a month after Pei left Zeckendorf to establish his own firm (March 24). The building has a service core in each of its four corners, specialized fenestration for important interior spaces, and four upper levels of offices, all organized around a large central courtyard. Inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, the scheme was distinguished mostly for its compound vaulted roof structure with monumental 50-foot spans and its great public forecourt with dense bosques of trees. Among the 508 entries submitted in competition, Pei advanced as one of eight finalists, but ultimately lost to a more expressive, less formal design.

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Principal
I. M. Pei & Associates