DOORS OPEN 2011 AND A CASE FOR USING LOCAL DESIGNERS

Condo Complex at 25 Ritchie Avenue, Toronto by architect David Anand Peterson. Part of Doors Open 2011.
Condo Complex at 25 Ritchie Avenue, Toronto by architect David Anand Peterson.
Part of Doors Open 2011.

Doors Open is an organization that allows you to be a fly on the wall at some of the most interesting architecture sites in Toronto. During Doors Open 2011 I took my legs out for two days around the city to get in as much as I could but two days wasn’t enough to cover what was, in total, over 150 participating buildings!

Some of the great locations I had a chance to explore were 401 Richmond, Cannon Design, Diamond and Schmitt Architects, 401 Wellington (Stantec), and an innovative new condo complex at 25 Ritchie.

I was really impressed with Stantec’s renovation of what was formerly the Macgregor Sock Company.

“…the Stantec Toronto Studio is located in the historic Garment District at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Wellington Street West. Originally constructed in 1905, the timber post and beam building offers the perfect opportunity to reclaim, transform and recycle a piece of the city’s industrial heritage.

Stantec’s architects and engineers designed a flexible, high-quality workspace that fosters collaboration, innovation, sustainable design excellence and our commitment to city building. The retrofit gives back to the city; economically, environmentally and culturally. With that in mind, the original retail entrance is reconceived as a public contemporary art gallery, in support of public art in the city.” (sited from Doors Open Toronto website)

The focus of the informative tour was the environmental considerations that were made during the renovations.

“The LEED®-CI Gold environmental agenda was achieved through a variety of methods including: indirect and low wattage task lighting, daylight and occupancy sensors, low flow showers, solar powered faucets, dual flush toilets, efficient underfloor air distribution and a number of green materials including the use of reclaimed 400-year old pine from Toronto’s Queen’s Wharf to create a feature screen.”

Interior of Stantec Toronto, 401 Richmond Street formerly the Macgregor Sock Company.
Interior of Stantec Toronto, 401 Richmond Street formerly the Macgregor Sock Company.

And there were small details to the aesthetics of the design that were a quirky reference to the building’s former life as sock factory. The glass walls separating the brainstorming / meeting rooms from the inner sanctum of the office space were decorated with sock top patterns. As lovely as they were, the glass walls also served a functional value of letting light in to the interior so that from any desk one has a view to the outside. I may just have stayed in the corporate world if I had had a chance to work in a place like 401 Richmond!

Interior of Stantec Toronto, 401 Richmond Street formerly the Macgregor Sock Company.  Details in the design reference back to the building’s former history.
Interior of Stantec Toronto, 401 Richmond Street formerly the Macgregor Sock Company. Details in the design reference back to the building’s former history.

The floors were floating to allow for air distribution and the tiles were constructed of environmentally sound materials that can be individually lifted up to access piping and wire structure below or if necessary to be individually replaced. Also, the tiles are recyclable. I have added this flooring to my “wishlist-in-my-mind” for future reference when I find an appropriate design project or even a home I can work them!

Environmental and sustainable considerations given to the flooring utilized in the Stantec office space.
Environmental and sustainable considerations given to the flooring utilized in the Stantec office space.

My only critique with the renovation of 401 Richmond was their choice in lobby furniture. The Le Corbusier style couches, although visually appropriate with the sleekness of the space, in keeping with their sustainability and local references, I feel there was a better and closer choice.

And this goes back to a point I made in a prior post (July 6 “Do Torontonians have something against local art & design?”). I am constantly coming into contact with great design here in Toronto that, given any interior design project, I would be happy to utilize in replace of the design clichés of Wassily Chairs, Le Corbusier Couches and the ever present Mies’ Barcelona Chair. I think after “Fraser” we have all seen enough of the Eames Brothers’ Lounge Chair recliner even if it is posh without compromising on comfort.

If given the choice between Charles and Ray and local homeboys, Jason and Lars of Brothers Dressler, I am so going with the brothers Dressler instead of brothers Eames.

The Brothers Dressler’s “Back to the Drafting Board Chaise Longue” featured at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.
The Brothers Dressler’s “Back to the Drafting Board Chaise Longue” featured at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.

Check out this recliner featured at the Interior Design Show this year. Love. Love. Love. Felt and reclaimed wood. Warm and friendly. Standing in Stantec’s lobby I was envisioning how fabulous commissioned Brothers Dressler’s furniture would segue into the space. Ideal.

The Brothers Dressler’s “Back to the Drafting Board Chaise Longue” featured at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.
The Brothers Dressler’s “Back to the Drafting Board Chaise Longue” featured at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.

Another coveted chair (Onedge Rocker) by Brothers Dressler at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.
Another coveted chair (Onedge Rocker) by Brothers Dressler at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011, Toronto.

Also at IDS was the amazing student section which featured more furniture that would suit so many of the spaces I tripped into on my tour of Doors Open 2011.

“Braced Cabinet” by Greg Bauer, Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.
“Braced Cabinet” by Greg Bauer, Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.

“Braced Cabinet” by Greg Bauer, Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.
“Braced Cabinet” by Greg Bauer, Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.

Chairs by OCAD students at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.
Chairs by OCAD students at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.

Chairs by OCAD students at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.
Chairs by OCAD students at the Interior Design Show (IDS) 2011 Student Section, Toronto.

So yes I think it is time that corporate Toronto offices with big budgets start checking out the ‘little’ guys around town because the way they design is expansive in talent.

Visit the DOORS OPEN website.

View more of the BROTHERS DRESSLER’S stunning work.

One Comment

  1. Jen D.
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I am encouraged by the conscious environmental choices that have transformed the former MacGregor Sock building. Let’s hope the trend builds.

    Do the OCAD students sell those pieces presented at IDS? Or are they just for display?