It’s pretty hard not to be in awe when you’re standing on a city street corner and look up to see a towering building seemingly touching the clouds. Like any notable skyscraper, when completed, Sam Mizrahi’s The One in downtown Toronto will likely rank with other architectural buildings holding the same wonderment.

Currently, the Toronto skyline is home to one of the world’s tallest and most striking structures, the CN Tower. At 553.3 meters, the CN Tower is the ninth tallest free-standing structure in the world and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.

With construction underway, once completed, The One will become the second tallest building in Canada, next to the CN Tower.

Today, we talk with the Toronto real estate executive behind The One, Sam Mizrahi.

Q: The One will be Canada’s first billion dollar tower and to boot, the tallest mixed-use building in the country. How did a project of this magnitude even come to fruition?

Sam Mizrahi: Honestly, we did not have our sights on “how can we build the tallest tower” when we started to envision this project. It only began making sense as the planning stages of The One progressed. In fact, it was really our team determining what our retail tenants wanted and what our residential owners wanted that formed the basis for the scope of the project. Now here we are, and I’ll tell you, our team is very thrilled.

Q: You partnered with London-based Foster and Partners to create The One’s unique design. What can you tell us about its symbolism?

Sam Mizrahi: What’s unique about this tower is that it inevitably embodies a certain amount of civic pride and ambition. A building of this scale has a special responsibility to the Toronto skyline and everyone will get to look at something interesting. In my mind, The One will be very much a global building.

Q: What influenced your distinct eye for architecture, design and style?

Sam Mizrahi: As a child, I would travel with my family and I noticed the architecture in France and the Haussmann style of classic mid-rise buildings in Paris. I’ve always admired designs that were not trendy, but instead timeless – whether that design is found in buildings, fashion or interior design. Form and functionality is important to me, and that has stuck with me over the years, as this style becomes much more relevant as time goes on.

Q: You began your career in real estate over twenty years ago. Now as the President and founder of Mizrahi Developments, what would you say made you ambitious in those early years?

Sam Mizrahi: I started out by really familiarizing myself with urban planning. I realized there was a lot of potential in many overlooked areas of Toronto. Investment opportunities no one had noticed before. I took advantage of that and found a number of lucrative opportunities as a result. I would say that intuition and ambition are the driving forces behind my career as a real estate executive.

Q: Entrepreneurship and philanthropy are two sides of the same coin. How do you like to give back?

Sam Mizrahi: I am in the fortunate position of being able to give back to my community. I enjoy the arts and support several art galleries, as well as hospitals. I’m also a board member of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, United Jewish Appeal and B’nai Brith of Canada. Giving back is a core fundamental value to me and our company.

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