When working with a historic building, developers can add value by expanding it or by enhancing its character, two strategies that are often in conflict. For a structure in a formerly industrial district of Toronto, Quadrangle Architects found a third way, creating a gem of an office building for multiple tenants as a result. The Toronto-based firm renovated a two-story brick-and-beam building for developers Hullmark, and excavated the basement to create a sunken courtyard, making a new daylit ground floor in the process.
Located in Liberty Village, a rapidly redeveloping area on the shoulder of downtown, 60 Atlantic Avenue seemed like an obvious candidate for a teardown. It was built in 1898 as light industrial space, haphazardly expanded into an L-shaped plan, and, while recently used for artists’ studios, was left in poor condition. Also, it was only about 25,000 square feet, filling less than half its site. “But Hullmark understood that there is value in a building like this,” says Richard Witt, a principal at Quadrangle. “The character of the building provides a quality that’s hard to replicate.” Retaining the building instead of demolishing it mitigated construction risk and cut at least a year from the approvals process.
To enhance its value, the architects oversaw a comprehensive restoration of the interior, including its heavy timber and steel structure. They cleaned and restored the exterior too, filling in gaps with salvaged buff brick and new, contrasting English gray brick. Today the aboveground floors house tenants including Regus, a co-working space for tech companies, and Invivo, a medical communications firm.
The big move was saved for the crook of the building’s L. Here Quadrangle built a small addition—a low glass pavilion and two towers clad in weathering steel. These towers house an elevator, restrooms, and circulation. “We were able to unify these different levels, provide an accessible entrance, and create a new character for this building,” says Witt. And the below-grade space, which now borrows north light from the sunken courtyard, will be home to a new restaurant by Oliver & Bonacini in partnership with Big Rock Brewery.
According to Hullmark vice president Aly Damji, the brewery’s gross rent is about 40 percent higher than it would be for a standard basement. But the courtyard will also serve the second phase of development on the site: Hullmark and Quadrangle are planning an 80,000-square-foot office building with a mass-timber structure. The new building will borrow its amenity space, its material palette—and some soul—from its freshly renewed neighbor.
Quadrangle Architects Limited
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Richard Witt - Principal, Project Lead
Interior designer: Quadrangle
Engineers: Read Jones Christoffersen - Structural
Phil Goldsmith Architects - Heritage
General contractor: First Gulf
Photographer: Ben Rahn/A- www.aframestudio.com
Client: Hullmark Developments
Size: 43,000 square feet
Masonry: St. Bees
Metal panels: Corten by Agway Metals
Metal/glass curtain wall: Alumicor Limited
Moisture barrier: Henry Company Canada
Curtain wall: Alumicor Limited
Built-up roofing: Base+Cap Sheet: Henry Company Canada
Metal frame: Alumicor Limited
Glass: Guardian Industries
Insulated-panel or plastic glazing: Guardian Industries
Entrances: Alumicor Limited
Metal doors: Bramdoor + Hardware Limited
Special doors: Phantom Door by Alumicor Limited
Locksets: Lawrence Hardware Inc.
Pulls: Canadian Builders Hardware
Other special hardware: BEA Inc
Demountable partitions: DIRTT
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Shoufamy
Paints and stains: Benjamin Moor/Sherwin Williams
Wall coverings: TI Group
Solid surfacing: Caesarstone
Floor and wall tile: Olympia Tile
Raised flooring: Corten weathered steel
Special interior finishes unique to this project: Corten weathered steel
Office furniture: Neinkamper, Coalesse, Herman Miller, Haworth
Reception furniture: Style Garage, Herman Miller
Upholstery: Fabrics Maharam
Interior ambient lighting: Flos, Molto Luce, Ribben LED track
Feature lighting: Carbon Light, Tokio
Elevators/escalators:Schindler Elevator Corp