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
380 Wellington Street West
Toronto, ON CANADA M5V 1E3
T: 416 598 1240
F: 416 598 3123

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Sheldon Levitt, principal, partner in charge, Bachelor of Architecture, registered with the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)

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)

Interior designer

Quadrangle Architects Limited (with consulting by WeatherstonBruer –


Electrical and mechanical: Able Engineering


Lighting:  Gerry Cornwell Lighting
46 Orchard Crescent
Toronto, ON  M8Z 3E2
T: 416 231 9296
F: 416 231 9296

General contractor

Structure Corp.


Tom Arban
Arban Photography
81 Jersey Avenue
Toronto, ON CANADA M6G 3A5
T:  416 566 9409





Structural system:
Wood doors: National Millwork Company Limited

Sliding doors: National Millwork Company Limited

Cabinet hardware: Häfele Canada Inc

Interior finishes:
Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: National Millwork

Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore & Co.

Plastic laminate: Nevamar

Special surfacing:
Floor and wall tile: Dal-Tile Corporation (washrooms)

Carpet:  InterfaceFLOR

Office furniture: Teknion

Chairs: Teknion, KI

Tables: Knoll

Interior ambient lighting: Artemide Canada

Downlights: Artemide Canada, Halo Lighting,

Task lighting: METALUMEN Manufacturing

Controls: Lutron Electronics Inc.

Taps Bath