ARIDO Award: Clock Tower Lofts
The Clock Tower Lofts project involved a multi-unit residential building located at the prominent intersection of King and Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto’s vibrant entertainment district.
The overall design strategy for this project was to establish a cultural connection between the residents, the building, and the surrounding community by creating a bold presence. Formerly Westside Lofts, the project goal was to reimagine the building by respectfully maintaining a balance between its roots in the community and its aspirations for the future.
Interior Designer: Tania Bortolotto, ARIDO
Design Firm: BORTOLOTTO
Photographer: Tom Arban (Exterior), Shai Gil (Interior and Canopy)
The identity of the building is immediately established from the intersection of King and Bathurst with a historic clock tower which anchors the building and is a long-standing and familiar landmark for one of the city’s most vibrant, creative, and busy districts.
First introduced to the building in 1907 by architect George Martel Miller , architect of Toronto Landmarks including the Gladstone Hotel and Havergal College, the clock tower has been a motif throughout the building’s transformations. Serving as headquarters for the Toronto Lithographing Company (1895), later a piano factory, it was finally converted into residential lofts in the 1990s. Seeing an opportunity to bring the clock motif to prominence, the design team was able to expose the building’s historic significance and weave the clock motif throughout their design.
The lobby was demolished to make way for new floor, ceiling, and wall finishes. The space was completely reconfigured for better flow for residents, visitors, and delivery personnel, while maintaining security and visibility for the building’s concierge. The previous lobby was not AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act) compliant and the design team improved the orientation and flow of these areas, which with COVID resulted in more traffic and increased deliveries to the building. Using universal accessible design solutions , means the space goes beyond the minimum standards.
A prominent example of the brand experience is the custom ceiling design, which greets guests and residents, and is the first impression of the building from the sidewalk. A dropped ceiling with a clock inspired graphic laser cut into steel panels flows continuously from the underside of the exterior canopy to the interior elevator. Diffused lighting was carefully detailed to provide illumination through the perforations. Elsewhere, natural light was maximized and low energy lighting systems using sensor controls were employed to contribute to a more sustainable human experience.
Outside, a new canopy introduces another modern and multi-functional design element to this project: first by demarking the entrance at ground level and secondly by creating added protection for occupants, visitors and passersby. Signage and new lighting (both interior and exterior) illuminate the buildings’ new identity for both residents and the neighbourhood.
One of the most impactful changes to the exterior was a color refresh that traded in the dated, clunky red with a fresh, modern, gray which places emphasis on the historic clock in a meaningful and memorable way. Not only was this solution budget-conscious, but it also represents one of the more transformative changes of this project and repositions the condominium as a desirable, sophisticated place to live, work, and play.
A core tenant of the firms’ brand and philosophy is to provide mentorship and opportunities for underrepresented individuals including women and diverse professionals. These factors not only enhance the design experience, but are reflected in the work and client experience.
Another way in which BORTOLOTTO was able to provide a more diverse, equitable and inclusive design experience for this project, was the design team and the firm’s business model itself. 100% owned, managed and controlled by a woman, the firm is WBE Canada Certified . This certification follows global supplier diversity standards and exists to help develop and promote Canadian women-owned businesses.
The bespoke details executed in the project design achieve just that – a place to live, work and be inspired by. The design team followed this approach and the result, we believe, is the revitalization of one of the city's most enduring, vibrant, creative districts.