KPMB Defines The Neighbourhood
August 16, 2020

If you’ve spent any time walking through the neighbourhood surrounding 300 Bloor Street West then chances are that you’re already familiar with the work of KPMB. The award-winning, internationally-recognized Canadian architectural practice is responsible for more than half a dozen notable projects within a 1-kilometre radius.

Contemporary Collegiate to contemporary Modern – KPMB’s projects are defined by a deep and diverse response to place and people. The practice is united in their pursuit of community and sustainability, rooted in an essential belief in the power of architecture to have a positive influence on the way we live.

The firm has been repeatedly recognized for architectural excellence and has received over 300 awards, including 16 Governor General’s Medals, Canada’s highest honour. Founding partners, Bruce Kuwabara, Marianne McKenna, and Shirley Blumberg are each recipients of the Order of Canada for their contribution to Canadian culture and society. Read on to discover some of their signature work in the neighbourhood, and what they have in store for 300 Bloor Street West.

University of Toronto St. George Campus | 7-minute walk<b/r>As part of a consortium with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Urban Strategies, KPMB developed the winning proposal to transform 20 acres of the University of Toronto’s historic St. George campus into one of the largest landscape infrastructure projects ever proposed in Canada. Principal at University College and Co-chair of Landmark Committee, Donald Ainslie, called the site “one of the crucial landscapes of the country” with a mandate to “make it live up to its history.”

The future landscape will include a series of meandering, interwoven, car-free paths and stately columns of oak trees, creating a pedestrian-friendly realm that will reimagine four landmark spaces and redefine the storied university campus for future generations.

Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto | 8-minute walk
The Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto combines international studies with a Canadian point of view. Similarly, KPMB’s expansion of the facilities combines two diverse elements – the existing traditional Romanesque Revival style with distinctively contemporary additions, where glass and steel act as counterpoints to the rough-hewn texture of historic Miramichi sandstone.

The overall vision embraces the prime location on Bloor Street West, preserving the historic elevation and creating a prominent portal onto the campus.

The Joseph L. Rotman School of Management Expansion, University of Toronto | 6-minute walk
In 2012 KPMB envisioned an expansion for the Rotman School of Management, a nine-storey, 161,500 square foot LEED-accredited vertical campus that has played a major role in establishing Rotman as the #1 Business School in Canada, as named by Business Insider, QS Global MBA Rankings, and the Financial Times.

The innovative campus brings the power of integrated thinking to life, using a central atrium staircase that acts as a catalyst to encourage interaction between students, alumni, and faculty, comprising some of the top business minds in the world.

Home to the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking; the Lloyd and Delphine Martin Prosperity Institute; a 400-seat multi-purpose lecture/event hall; a diverse mix of classrooms, conference and multimedia rooms; innovation labs; student lounges; study rooms; offices; and many other research programs and Institutes for Excellence, the expansion creates an environment in which ideas about business strategy and thought leadership for economic prosperity combine in a vibrant global hub.

Park Hyatt | 9-minute walk
Located at the north-west corner of Avenue Road and Bloor, the Park Hyatt reimagines the boutique hotel experience, establishing the historic building as a prime location for cultural and commercial convergence.

Mindful of the impressive heritage of the original Park Plaza, a hotel that welcomed generations of Canadian and international authors, opera singers, celebrities, and politicians for over a century, KPMB tapped into the rich memory of the past while anticipating a vibrant future. The renovated Park Hyatt continues the tradition of sophisticated hospitality in 240 hotel rooms; 65 luxury rental residential units; a redesigned lobby, restaurant, and roof-top bar; conference centre and ballroom; and a new 8,000 square foot Stillwater Spa with 13 treatment rooms.

Royal Conservatory TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, Koerner Hall & Ettore Mazzoleni Hall | 6-minute walk
KPMB’s vision for the award-winning Royal Conservatory helped define a new cultural precinct for Toronto. With a prominent position on Bloor, at the threshold of the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, the breathtaking home for Canada’s premier music and arts educator includes a unique hybrid of a teaching and rehearsal facilities, along with three major performance venues.

Once again demonstrating a flair for seamlessly combining historic buildings with contemporary design, KPMB created a glass and steel sky-lit pedestrian court that links the Bloor Street entrance to the lobby and concert hall and provides a dynamic counterpoint to the façades of the heritage buildings. Siting, massing, and articulation were carefully considered to respect the 19th century heritage buildings that have housed the Conservatory since 1962.

The 1,135-seat Michael and Sonja Koerner Concert Hall is the performance heart of the Conservatory, a world-class venue renowned for both its acoustic excellence and its architectural beauty. Its undulating wood ‘veil’ has become an iconic image for the RCM. Just down the hall, the 240-seat Ettore Mazzoleni Hall has been restored to its original splendour, contemporary interventions integrating with the restored shell to create a flexible performance space for voice, solo, and orchestral recitals.

One Bedford | 5-minute walk
A high-end residential development bordering the Annex, One Bedford marks the transition from the heritage neighbourhood to the north, to the retail/institutional area to the south. To create a seamless evolution, KPMB designed a hybrid building form composed of two towers set on an eight-storey limestone-clad base. The north tower, a lower glass building, mediates between the base and the south point-tower, rising above with an exterior expression that echoes the masonry of the Annex neighbourhood.

Gardiner Museum | 9-minute walk
In 2006 KPMB took on the renewal of a small museum for ceramic arts and the façade of the Gardiner Museum was forever changed. The original building, completed in 1983, was stepped back from the street to preserve unobstructed views of an adjacent neoclassical-style limestone façade, and completely reclad in limestone to match new additions.

Vertical circulation and below-grade excavation produced a complete reconfiguration of the museum. Working closely with the exhibit designers, KPMB also designed the new exhibition display casework. The Gardiner has expanded its audience and has become a highly sought-after venue for Toronto events.

300 Bloor Street West | 0-minute walk
KPMB has a bold vision for 300 Bloor Street West, a plan that will transform the site into a skillfully designed mixed-use community of retail, offices, residential, and a completely renovated home for Bloor Street United Church. Evident in so many of KPMB heritage projects, the plans for 300 Bloor Street West give due deference to the historic church façade, respecting and engaging the existing masonry structure, while the tower’s minimal form and detailing introduce openness, space, and light. The church will maintain a prominent presence along Bloor, while along Huron Street, the residential lobby will present a lively and inviting gesture to the neighbourhood.

For more details on KPMB visit their website.
Photo Courtesy of KPMB