Brewery Lofts

90 Sumach Street

102-unit conversion of industrial warehouse
Completed in 1998 with Sorbara Development Group

When we began planning the Brewery Lofts in the mid-1990s, the project was the first loft conversion of an industrial warehouse in Toronto. Although similar adaptive reuse developments existed already in New York City, Chicago and other metropolises, breaking this new ground here in the north meant working with local politicians, city planners and community associations to bring awareness and understanding of the benefits of this type of open-plan living.

Built originally in an area of the city devoted to receiving and sorting goods shipped from overseas, 90 Sumach Street was erected by the CBC in 1956 to house design and production facilities for the props, costumes and sets that would populate its emerging television programming. That creative work continued in the building right up to the mid-1990s, when the CBC moved all these units to its new headquarters on Front Street.

Once redevelopment was approved by all parties, the transformation of the structure included turning the ground floor into two levels of indoor parking and extensive exterior renovation—namely, the demolition of north side bays and the creation of new window openings to allow for residential use. In the end, the old concrete box was converted into 102 units with an abundance of natural light and became a driver of regeneration for Corktown. Those who populate the building—including a good number of its original owners—consider it not just a place to live, but a mini-neighbourhood within a building.

Broadview Lofts

68 Broadview Avenue

104-unit conversion of industrial warehouse
Completed in 2006 with Sorbara Development Group

The building at 68 Broadview Avenue, which sits steps away from the Don River on the city’s east side, was originally erected in 1914 to house the Rexall Drug warehouse. In 2003, when we began planning to adapt the industrial structure into a loft residence, the project was met with broad support from the city and the community. The main challenge to overcome, then, was the fact that the structure had been built in five different stages—resulting in a wide variety of pre-existing flooring and construction materials. Additionally, rather than building the parking garage into the first floor, as was the trend at the time, we endeavoured to integrate it underground around the building’s perimeter.

The result is a seven-storey loft-style residential building, framed mostly with wood, and including a set-back, two-storey penthouse, distinguished by its glass facades. A new wing was added, as well as rental townhouses over the garage. The finished lofts retain much of the original’s character, utilizing century-old brick-and-beam elements, as well as cage elevators and a water tower that stands high above the roof.

Still recognized as one of the city’s most exemplary residential conversions, the building plays a role in the ongoing transformation of Riverside into one of the city’s most sought after neighbourhoods.

400 Wellington West

102-unit mid-rise condominium
Completed in 2012 with Sorbara Development Group

At a time when condos in Toronto’s downtown were progressively shrinking in order to maximize profitability, we opted to buck the trend with 400 Wellington West, and build open, livable homes. Five years on, many of the original buyers remain in the building, which has evolved into a community of its own.

The exterior design—inspired by our commitment at acquisition—was meant to integrate seamlessly into its historic King West context. The final result is a blend of two design styles found in the area: the front of the building meshes more closely to the neighbouring warehouses from the the turn of the century, while the back half is inspired by the horizontal windows and masonry of the mid-1900’s. On top of both, we added contemporary penthouses featuring glass facades—and spectacular views—set back from the edge. Designed with brick and punch windows, 400 Wellington West is more energy efficient than the all-glass condos that flooded the market at the time.

With retail space integrated on street level, and commercial space off the lane, 400 Wellington West is also a nod to the vibrant future of downtown Toronto.

Sixty Lofts

60 Bathurst Street

172-unit midrise condominium
Completed in 2008 with Sorbara Development Group

The Sixty Lofts, two buildings that sit around the corner from each other at Bathurst and Niagara, are fraternal twins—each serving a different market and each designed to blend seamlessly with its respective neighbours.

We imbued the smaller of the two—with a front on Niagara—with a more residential aesthetic featuring the red brick common to the block. In fact, this six-storey building is more like stacked luxury townhouses than conventional condos. To work around the long corridors common to most new builds, we outfitted this one with multiple elevators that open at each floor to a small vestibule servicing two units only. And we made it a priority to integrate ample outdoor space, including the kind of spacious terraces and gardens not usually found in mid-rise developments. The taller twin, which faces Bathurst, contains eleven stories of loft residences featuring ten-foot concrete ceilings with exposed ductwork and private balconies.

Before the building could go up, the brownfield left behind when the Laura Secord Factory was demolished had to be tested, reported, and properly removed. We completed this process before beginning sales and, in fact, even began construction before seeking buyers. At the time, new owners in the city were promised timelines that couldn’t be fulfilled and so they often waited four years or more to move into their new homes. For Sixty Lofts, which has had a remarkably low turnover, we successfully reduced the wait time to a couple years.

Crafthouse

20 home infill subdivision
Completed in 2015 with Sorbara Development Group

The design and construction of this Modern-designed subdivision in Bayview Village—an infill development of a former school site—was a gamble that paid off. While minimalist one-offs had been popping up here and there across Toronto for years, nobody had ever tried to build twenty of them.

Following extensive pre-consultation with the community and ward councillor, we began construction on a group of houses similarly designed, but which comprised nine different floorplans. What they have in common is authenticity. These are not standard subdivision houses finished with a flat roof and a Modernist applique on the outside. They were designed and constructed collaboratively from the start, and from inside out in the Modern style—featuring open spaces, clean lines, no crown molding to mask imperfections and superbly-designed fixtures throughout. When people enter these houses, the differences are subtle but immediately recognizable.

On the land around each of the homes, we built exterior courtyards featuring high walls that essentially transform the outdoor space into another room—a seamless continuation of the home.