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. Our client’s mandate of renewing aging buildings and transforming them into attractive, commercial lease properties targeting new-economy tenants necessitated a big change. To entice the intended demographic, our client 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 at-grade entry 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.
In short, our mandate for this design was to upgrade 100 Broadview by recognizing and embracing the building’s potential and history, while infusing it with a contemporary spirit that would transform it into an attractive environment for quality tenants willing to pay a bit more for a well-designed space, a vibrant, neighbourhood hub and a wise investment in the property for the long-term.
Our 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. Our big move was to cut out the slab and transform the lion’s share of the ground level into a dramatic lobby. We designed a concrete ramp that zigzags downwards, drawing users to both the upper and basement levels with a sense of depth and movement. This ramp’s orange-painted “carpet” gives character, visual clarity and brand identity. 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 textured and grand entrance to the building.
The vibrant orange carries through the building’s hallways and shared areas in the form of our custom-designed colourful and icon-based wayfinding elements. With the feature ramp creating a path for users of mobility devices and the bright colours creating high-contrast pathways for those with visual impairments, 100 Broadview demonstrates how universal design goes beyond mere accessibility.
Achieved with a limited material palette, 100 Broadview’s aesthetic is raw and industrial, matching the building’s character. Bocci pendant lights hanging from the ceiling, offseting the industrial feeling, creating a warm intimacy that entices passers-by through the street-level glazing. This balance of industrial elements, inviting warmth and dynamic colour define an entry way that welcomes creative and innovative thought, as well as congregation and rest.
100 Broadview is now a visible and accessible space tailored to the types of tenants the client wants to attract. 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.
Feature Sign – Pengelly Iron Works
Branding Films – TI Group
Feature Lights – Bocci