Located in Toronto's historic Distillery District, the Deaf Culture Centre is a retrofitted portion of a historic heritage building once used for producing spirits. Key elements of the original industrial building remain: Brick and stone walls, cast iron details, and wooden trusses are exposed and aligned with contemporary elements of stainless steel and glass to create an edgy urban design.
With an ambitious program and a limited two-story space of 4,000 square feet, the center’s functional requirements were carefully situated in the multi-use environment.
The ground floor is an open plan and functions as an exhibition area that can be used for events, and also as a kitchen for cooking demonstrations. The entrance serves as a reception area and gift shop, and also is tailored to host large groups of visiting school children. The second floor contains a boardroom, an open multimedia studio, offices, and archives. Design details such as moveable walls and screens enable the space to expand or contract to accommodate groups of two to 200 people.
Quadrangle’s design approach addressed the unique considerations of deaf people through design, layout, organization, and visual diction. Central to this design is the use of a vibrant color palette that allows visitors to relate to the space visually. Other considerations include ledges placed throughout the center so that hands can be free for signing. Glass panels between offices create sightlines for communication.
Sign language graphics designed by Bruce Mau are incorporated throughout the building in the carpet design, the door handles, and staircase medallions. These iconic symbols are artistic interpretations of the hand signs for the words culture, inspire, resonate, preserve, fresh, and community.
Deaf Culture Centre
Quadrangle Architects Limited
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Susan Ruptash, principal, Bachelor of Architecture, Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (FRAIC), registered with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA)
Ted Shore, principal, Bachelor of Architecture, Member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (MRAIC), registered with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), LEED® AP
Vera Gisarov, interior designer, Intern Member of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO)
Quadrangle Architects Limited (with consulting by WeatherstonBruer – www.weatherstonbruer.com)
Electrical and mechanical: Able Engineering
Lighting: Gerry Cornwell Lighting
Sliding doors: National Millwork Company Limited
Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore & Co.
Plastic laminate: Nevamar
Chairs: Teknion, KI
Task lighting: METALUMEN Manufacturing
Controls: Lutron Electronics Inc.