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. 

Back to Good Design Is Good Business 2016



Quadrangle Architects Limited
901 King Street West, Suite 701
Toronto, ON M5V 3H5
t 416 598 1240

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Richard Witt - Principal, Project Lead
Caroline Robbie - Principal, Interiors Lead

Interior designer: Quadrangle

Engineers: Read Jones Christoffersen - Structural
Integral Group - M&E


Phil Goldsmith Architects - Heritage
Vertechs Design Inc. - Landscape

General contractor: First Gulf

Photographer: Ben Rahn/A- www.aframestudio.com

Client: Hullmark Developments

Size: 43,000 square feet

Cost: withheld 




Exterior Cladding

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
Insulation: Johns Manville
Overlay: Georgia Pacific
Vapour Barrier: Soprvap'r - Soprena 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.
Assa Abloy

Pulls: Canadian Builders Hardware
Gallery Specialty

Other special hardware: BEA Inc

Interior Finishes

Demountable partitions: DIRTT

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Shoufamy

Paints and stains: Benjamin Moor/Sherwin Williams
Custom Corten Steel Staining

Wall coverings: TI Group

Solid surfacing: Caesarstone

Floor and wall tile: Olympia Tile

Carpet: Interface/Tandus

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
Flos, Aim


Elevators/escalators:Schindler Elevator Corp