LocationToronto, ON, Canada
Text description provided by the architects. A self-storage facility beneath a new condominium at the corner of two busy streets, 100 Broadview was an unremarkable and rather awkward brick and beam building in Toronto's east end. For this building’s transformation, real estate investment and development group Hullmark engaged Quadrangle Architects with the goal of creating an accessible and attractive lobby, targeting new-economy tenants. To entice the intended demographic, Hullmark wanted to make a bold statement at grade—something that would demarcate 100 Broadview as a creative hub.
Beyond 100 Broadview's virtual invisibility, it was also inaccessible: the entryway denied direct, barrier-free access, forcing entrants to climb a few feet to the "ground floor" or descend a few steps to the lower level. Hallways lacked signage or wayfinding, creating further confusion and discouraging tenancy.
Quadrangle’s mandate for this design was to upgrade 100 Broadview by embracing the building’s potential and history, infusing it with a contemporary spirit that would not only transform it into an attractive, well-designed space, but also a vibrant, neighbourhood hub while providing a wise investment in the property for the long-term.
Quadrangle’s solution starts with a bright orange sign hanging above the lobby entrance, contrasting with the red brick and grey mortar façade, giving the building an identity and clearly marking the entrance. Their big move was to cut out the slab and transform the lion’s share of the ground level into a dramatic lobby. They designed a concrete ramp that zigzags downwards, drawing users to both the upper and basement levels with a sense of depth and movement. Intersecting the ramp are stairs downwards, marked with orange visibility strips, and a blackened steel staircase with wood treads leads upwards. These elements overlap, creating a textured and grand entrance to the building.
The team's demolition of the floor plate and the dynamic lobby created in its stead have given new life to this once ill-defined space. This balance of industrial elements, inviting warmth and dynamic colour define an entryway that welcomes creative and innovative thought, as well as congregation and rest. With the feature ramp creating a path for users of mobility devices and the bright colours producing high-contrast pathways for those with visual impairments, 100 Broadview demonstrates how universal design goes beyond mere accessibility.