With pandemic disruptions behind us, Sam Mizrahi moves forward on building skyscraper The One

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If there’s been a lesson to be learned from these most unusual of times, it’s the importance of not only being resilient, but also having the ability to adapt. Two long years of lockdowns, various health mandates and general global uncertainty have certainly taken their toll on Toronto, as well as the rest of the world. 

Because he’s been famously hands-on in everything he’s ever done, Toronto developer and entrepreneur Sam Mizrahi hasn’t been immune to the hiccups that are part of any project. 

The earliest waves of the COVID-19 pandemic created supply-chain disruptions in countless industries, which explained everything from yeast shortages on grocery shelves to a lack of medical masks in drug stores. The construction industry wasn’t immune. 

For reasons that started with factory closures and border shutdowns, material shortages were rampant at the start of the pandemic. A Wall Street Journal report this past January noted that 90 per cent of North American builders were having trouble sourcing raw materials. 

As we come out of the pandemic and supply chains open again, Mizrahi is excited about what the future holds for a Toronto that continues to take a starring role on the international stage. 

One of the projects that’s reshaping the city is his 80-storey downtown skyscraper The One. Mizrahi is understandably proud at the way the Norman Foster-designed property is already being hailed as a building that will join the CN Tower as a skyline-defining landmark. 

“We were looking for someone who could help the vision and be able to help us move boundaries architecturally and design-wise,” Mizrahi says about his enlisting the UK-based Foster as the architect for The One. “To create something in Canada that had never been before. To do something they said could not be done.”

Embrace the thrill of travelling and one of the joys of seeing new places is that you end up endlessly inspired, especially where architecture is concerned. As amazing as the food, art and music is in New York City, Paris, Shanghai or Rome, it’s the architecture that leaves a lasting impression. 

A life-long passion for travelling has made a huge impact on Mizrahi, who loves cities that have an easily definable look. Ask anyone who’s ever marvelled at the wrought-iron balconies of the French Quarter in New Orleans, or a blue tile building in Istanbul’s Taksim district, and it’s all about the attention to detail. 

With supply chains slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels, that’s once again moving the dial on ambitious projects that add to the global conversation. 

Mizrahi is not only out to make a detail-oriented statement with The One, but he’s also famously hands-on with his involvement, right down to picking everything from grout colours to the handles used on cabinetry. 

Real estate isn’t of course the first venture that he’s immersed himself in – past success stories have included an electronics distribution network, and a boutique drycleaning service called Dove. But what he loves about building buildings is the ability to make a lasting impression. 

“Real estate provided a canvas that was very different from what I was doing with Dove cleaners or with my consumer electronics,” Mizrahi says. “It was something that I loved ever since I was young because I’ve always had a passion for architecture and design.”

If Mizrahi has learned anything over the years, it’s not to take for granted the experiences that come with creating a statement-making building. He cites the importance of everyone involved in the process, from designers and those in manufacturing plants, to drivers who get materials on site, to the tradespeople responsible for the finishing touches onsite. 

Everything in the world is now interconnected, with that reality driven home in a big way by the past two pandemic years. And, after a global disruption where those connections were interrupted in a big way, things are slowly getting back to normal. Mizrahi is like all of us: looking forward to moving ahead, and in the process hopefully making the world a better place. 

Iconic buildings make cities more interesting. But first we have to build them. 

“It’s important to take leaps of faith and do things that most people are afraid of doing because they are scared to fail,” Mizrahi says. “To do something bold is to bring confidence to others to reach higher. You want to do things that pave the way for others to reach higher.”

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