Urban retail architecture in Toronto

Thursday 03 Jan 2008

Innovation and adaptive design for UMBRA

The project for the new UMBRA retail venue seeks to capitalize on the past success, both strategically and aesthetically of the UMBRA World headquarters project completed in 1999. In renovating the existing building at 165 John Street, a concept that simultaneously disguises yetenhances, the existing building is exploited to its fullest.
The objective for Kohn Shnier Architects in collaboration with Figure 3 interior designers was to create a strong iconic form, married to a fresh and unique approach in urban retail architecture. The overall expression of the design is both a seduction and an expression of the spatial volumes and sectional experience that has been created through a strategic reconfiguration of the interior floor plates.
Two floors of retail are tied together by opening a volume of space between them linked by a set of ramping platforms. Simultaneously circulation and display space, this element gives visitors time to adapt to a retail experience shaped by light. Access to the lower portion of the space is by a wide short stair that eliminates any sense of hierarchy between the two levels.
The existing steel frame building is fitted out with a new, more environmentally efficient envelope of glass and charcoal grey concrete masonry units which is in turn enveloped in a decorative veilof vertically oriented plastic panels.
The corner of the building at John Street and Renfrew Place has been restructured with a dynamic new expression of supporting steel and enveloped in a minimal glazing system that provides transparency and accommodates access.
Three hundred polycarbonate panels, each measuring 16 inches wide by more than 10 feet highbare extruded in a vibrant colour saturated with pink overtones designed to catch the attention of Queen Street West pedestrian and stand out against the background of its immediate context.The panel, stacked 3-lengths high to 35 feet and spaced 6 inches apart, provoke light, shadows and transparencies to interact with the views of the building.
The design also includes a large programmable window on the public park as well as a third floor of premium leaseable tenant space.
The new design further enhances UMBRA’s reputation for upholding innovation and adaptive reuse of existing structures in creating a major new downtown destination that cannot be overlooked.

Key Facts:

Commercial Retail

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