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St. Michael’s Hospital installs one of Toronto’s few pedestrian bridges

The steel frame for one of Toronto’s rare enclosed pedestrian bridges was recently hoisted into place in downtown Toronto, connecting St. Michael’s main hospital building with its new Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

Toronto, October 23, 2010

The bridge structure is hoisted into place. The bridge structure is hoisted into place.

The bridge will be both a physical and symbolic link between the research and education work taking place in the new building on the north side of Shuter Street and the patient care on the south side.

“The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute was designed specifically to bring together researchers, educators and clinicians in one facility to encourage the rapid transfer of research findings from the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside,” said Dr. Bob Howard, St. Michael’s CEO. “The bridge will be a constant reminder to researchers and health care workers that we have to open up those pathways to discovery, knowledge and healing.”

The bridge’s tubular steel frame, which is about 18 metres long and 4 metres in diameter, was manufactured and assembled by Gartner Steel and Glass in Germany, shipped across the Atlantic to New York and then trucked to Toronto.

After being hoisted into place on Saturday, October 23, workers will spend about six weeks installing 65 curved glass panels specially designed to be suspended over the street. Each panel consists of three layers -- a single 10-mm thick pane of clear tempered glass and two 8-mm panes covered with a solar film to provide shading. Each pane of glass is a curved parallelogram (as opposed to a curved rectangle) so that the joints in the glass follow the white steel structure behind them.

Both the bridge and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute were designed by acclaimed Toronto architect Jack Diamond, principal with Diamond+Schmitt Architects. The firm’s work includes the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the new home of the Canadian Opera Company; the new Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia; as well as the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and the Bahen Centre for Information Technology at the University of Toronto.

The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute will be comprised of two buildings that are physically integrated but have distinct programs: the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Centre for Healthcare Education.

The bridge will be one of only a handful of enclosed pedestrian bridges crossing streets in Toronto, where city officials usually deny permission for them. (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, at the Hospital for Sick Children over Elizabeth Street, and between the east and west campuses of Branksome Hall school for girls over Mount Pleasant Road.)