ONE YONGE STREET: A CONVERSATION
The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit has been very lucky to be able to continue welcoming guests during the COVID-19 crisis, while adhering to the necessary social distancing measures. One of the reasons it’s been able to do that is thanks to the building housing the exhibit, the historical Toronto Star building at One Yonge Street. The building provides a great space to immerse visitors in the visual and sonic experience of the exhibit, as well as more than enough space to keep them safe at the same time. So we reached out to Pinnacle International, the company that owns One Yonge Street, and in an interview with Anson Kwok (their VP of sales), talked about what makes the space unique, how the relationship with the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit came to be, and the company’s future plans for the building. Don’t miss your chance to experience this unique exhibition space, there are still a few tickets left to the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in July, and more dates available in August and September (click here to purchase your tickets).
How did Pinnacle International become involved with One Yonge Street?
Anson Kwok — We took over this building in July 2012, and it’s an interesting building because some people consider it historic and some people don’t. But the actual building was built in the 1970’s, so for most people it’s actually not a heritage building in that sense. But the uniqueness of the print-press area can’t be found anywhere else, it’s a hidden gem — we didn’t really know about it until we bought the building. We’ve been working in this area for a while now — we built the four buildings across the street — and have owned the land here since 2003, so it’s interesting that we didn’t even know what was in there.
We always knew it was a unique space, had lots of private special events there like weddings and different corporate events. We needed someone that had a vision to make use of an amazing and unique space in such a great location. It has the aesthetic of a warehouse space in downtown Toronto that’s pretty unheard of. It really was for us a great partnership between Lighthouse Immersive and Pinnacle International to have this exhibit, the location is so convenient that I think people don’t typically expect such a big space.
How did the relationship between Pinnacle International and Lighthouse Immersive come to be?
I think they found us, actually. We’ve been doing a lot of showings and there had been a lot of different events in that space. If you want to offer such a great art exhibit, you want it to be as accessible as possible, and obviously the location ticks that box. Though the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit found us, we’ve really enjoyed working with them and made sure that during this COVID-19 time, we can lend a hand in making the logistics work. It just happened at the right time.
We’re excited that the exhibit got going during a very unique time, and we’re happy that they’ve been able to be so adaptive and creative. We enjoy working with them to work through this landscape. It’s such a unique exhibit to start with, and this space just adds an extra dimension to how unique it is, because we’ve also had to work with it during social distancing. The best way to launch is to make it the new place to be and how this experience to be viewed. It’s been pretty busy, a lot of people having been coming through. This is a great concept and something that I think people are going to be excited and energized to see. It’s not like any other museum or art gallery, it gets all your senses in there.
What does the future look like for this historic building?
We have a pretty extensive development plan, we’ve owned the land since 2012, so we’ve actually been working on the redevelopment of this entire site — including the parking lot to the north. We’re under construction right now for our 65-storey building and we’re just about to break ground for our 95-storey building (which is the tallest building in Canada), and then we have a third 80-storey building on the north side.
Where you see the exhibit now will eventually be taken down, along with the podium of the Toronto Star building. Then we’ll start redeveloping new office space, we have about 1.5 million square-feet of office and hotel space slated for where the exhibit lands are located. We’ll keep the main part of the building and then kind of modernize the exterior. It’s a pretty extensive community, in this location, so we’re going to end up with about 2500 residential units, there’s a 50,000 square-feet community centre that we’re building right now with a six-lane pool and a gymnasium as well. We have a hotel in the 95-storey building, and we have a second hotel coming in the office block as well. That’s all in one community.