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Bridge signals homestretch for Knowledge Institute

The pedestrian bridge that will link the hospital with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute is more than just a walkway. It’s also a metaphor for connecting the research and education activities with the patient care taking place in the main hospital.

Toronto, October 5, 2010

Bridge under construction in Germany Bridge under construction in Germany.

 “The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute is not a separate research institute like the MaRS building,” said St. Michael’s project director Michael Keen, “It’s very much a part of St. Michael’s. The whole idea of the Knowledge Institute is bridging that knowledge gap between research, education and patient care.”

The bridge – a sleek glass tube, interwoven with and supported by a steel structure – will run 70 feet over Shuter Street from the third floor of the Cardinal Carter wing to the first balcony level of the Knowledge Institute near the new health sciences library.

The steel structure, which was built in Germany, could be lifted into place as early as Hallowe’en weekend. Workers will then start installing the curved, double-glazed glass panels from Italy. When winter arrives, they’ll turn their attention to the interior work, the walkway platform, balustrades, lighting and airflow, with an expected completion date in March.

The bridge will be of only a handful of pedestrian bridges crossing streets in Toronto, where city officials usually deny permission for them. (The others are at Ryerson University over Jarvis Street, between the Eaton Centre and The Bay over Queen Street, between St. Lawrence Market and a Jarvis Street parking lot, and at Sick Kids Hospital over Elizabeth Street.)

The hospital felt strongly that it wanted a pedestrian bridge, Keen said, so it “decoupled” all bridge permits from the main building approvals process so as not to delay the overall project.

The hospital approached retiring Ward 27 Councilor Kyle Rae for support. “He said if you’re going to build a bridge, then it’s got to be something nice for the city of Toronto, not just functional,” Keen said.

With Rae’s support and a lot of meetings with city officials, approval to build the bridge was granted late last year. The bridge, which is 101 feet long altogether, was designed by Jack Diamond of Diamond+Schmitt Architects.