Toronto Architecture

Downtown Toronto Architecture Highlights

Toronto architecture ranges from historic and quaint to modern and fantastic.

01 of 10

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

Art Gallery of Ontario

 TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski

Internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry designed the renovation to the Art Gallery of Ontario (the AGO). The AGO transformation is widely acclaimed as an understated Gehry masterpiece.
Chock full of Gehry's favorite materials and visual elements, the AGO features sculptural staircases (one that emerges strikingly from the blue titanium rear facade) and a focal-point Douglas fir and glass promenade that is reminiscent of that Canadian archetype, the canoe.

02 of 10

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

The Royal Ontario Museum

 TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski

With hardly a right angle in sight, the Royal Ontario Museum's aluminum and glass clad walls jut and soar, creating a dramatic interior and unique perspectives for visitors. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the "Crystal" is an addition to the original more austere and traditional buildings, which have been incorporated inventively into the new design.

03 of 10

Distillery District

Distillery District

 TripSavvy / Kristjan Veski

Located in downtown Toronto, the Distillery District boasts the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. A distillery, flour mills, storehouses and other buildings comprise the Distillery District, which is today a pedestrian only neighborhood dedicated to promoting arts, culture, and entertainment and features an array of shops, galleries, and restaurants.​

04 of 10

Toronto City Hall

Courtesy City of Toronto

Architect Viljo Revell's distinctive structure was completed in 1965. The design was controversial at first but the Toronto City Hall has since been accepted as a masterful piece of modernist architecture. Even today, the design--two slightly asymmetrical semi-circular towers with a saucer-like building in between--is progressive. An aerial view reveals the Toronto City Hall to resemble a large unblinking eye. How cool is that?

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Old City Hall

Old City Hall in Toronto

Andrew Gunners / Getty Images

Located just across the street from Toronto's present-day City Hall, the Old City Hall is one example of the Victorian-era Romanesque architecture found widely across the city, especially in government and university buildings.

06 of 10


Cabbagetown is a charming residential area in downtown Toronto that boasts the largest continuous area of preserved Victorian housing in North America (according to the Cabbagetown Preservation Association).

Aside from the 19th-century architecture, many homes feature modern additions that provide interesting visual counterparts to the decorative trim work, turrets and other detailing typical of Victorian era architecture.

07 of 10

Sharp Centre of Design

Sharp Centre of Design

Designed by Alsop Architects, the Sharp Centre for Design sits right next to the Art Gallery of Ontario and provides studio and teaching space to the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD).

Looking like a boxy Lego spaceship that has landed in downtown Toronto, the Sharp Centre has a colorful, playful design that energizes its setting, including the traditional OCAD brick building it straddles.

08 of 10

Leslie L. Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

Courtesy of University of Toronto

The Pharmacy Building as it is commonly known, houses the University of Toronto's Faculty of Pharmacy and is most notable for its suspended "pod" classrooms that hang down into the light-flooded atrium on the lower levels and glow various colours in the night.

The Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building was designed by Sir Norman Foster and Claude Engle.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

The Toronto Dominion Centre

Toronto Dominion Centre

Scott McLean

Mies van der Rohe's innovative design looks commonplace today. However, van der Rohe's "less is more" approach to design--as apparent in the TD Tower completed in 1967--proves all skyscrapers are not created equal. The Toronto Dominion evokes strength and power, but also has a grace that is unexpected in such a large, steel and girder construction.


10 of 10

CN Tower

The CN Tower in Toronto

TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media

The CN Tower may not be the most artful or imaginative architecture in Toronto, but it is an engineering feat and - as of 2010 - has retained its title as the world's tallest tower. Since its erection in 1975, the 553.33 meter (1,815 ft., 5 inch) tall CN Tower has defined the Toronto landscape. See more fascinating facts about the CN Tower.

Was this page helpful?