24 Jan 2023
Sid Lee Architecture is proud to unveil its revitalization project of a Bloor Street hotel for the opening of W Worldwide’s latest property in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. Based on themes derived from the city's current and historical heritage, the fresh look of W Toronto reflects the banner's desire to assert itself as a showcase for local culture.
Rethought as a multitude of mises en sce?ne, the new spaces echo the diversity of the urban centre, and through a fluid design experience, the W Toronto facilitates an encounter with the city within its walls.
Connected to the street
“Connection to the community being an important part of W’s DNA, it was vital to connect the hotel to its context, but the original closed-off layout of the building represented an integration challenge,” says Martin Leblanc, architect and senior partner at Sid Lee Architecture. "Our team relied on a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior to turn the hotel into a connectivity hub." That idea was deployed namely around the addition of an elevator accessible directly from the street.
On the ground floor, the facade opens onto the street and allows for a direct connection with PUBLIC SCHOOL: the hotel’s cafe? by day, and cocktail bar by night. The action is set around a casual circular bar adorned by notched black marble panels that fit the context of the designer stores of Bloor Street while remaining approachable and inviting, and chic yet accessible.
The redesign of the entrance invites the street inside through the integration of a series of colourful art interventions inspired by Toronto's own street art culture. The murals, signed by local artist Alan Ganev, take visitors back to the famous "Graffiti Alley", a street art circuit stretching over a kilometre in the Fashion District.
The design by Sid Lee Architecture sets the tone for a cinematic entrance on the Toronto scene as the curtain rises on an updated hotel experience in response to the rich culture of the largest and most diverse Canadian metropolis.
The designers used the building's brutalist quality as a neutral canvas and accentuated the different spaces with vibrant scenography. Elements of biophilic design have been integrated with the minerality of concrete as if nature had taken over the vestiges of the built environment.
While wandering through the hotel, the biophilic elements allow for a constant connection to nature and give a nod to Toronto's famous ravines, which collectively form an urban forest surrounding the city.
The Living Room
Located on the second floor, the reception area, also referred to as The Living Room (a W brand signature space), is housed in a glass cube. It is an urban oasis that allows you to feel detached from the rest of the city while being surrounded by local references. Its contrasting accents offer a comfort that is amplified by the arrival of snow in winter. Inside The Living Room, suspended grids, velvet curtains, and lighting that resembles movie projectors give the impression of being backstage. The palette and textures, reminiscent of a theatre, paired with a prop like a furniture and art pieces, emphasize this feeling of scenography and complete the dynamic atmosphere of this liminal space in constant shift. This is a tribute to Toronto’s thriving theatre and film scene.
A series of strategically-placed gigantic tubes divide the area without breaking up the natural flow of the space, offering moments of intimacy throughout zones of connection and collaboration. A conversation pit set around a bond fire plays with socializing archetypes, while a horizontal mural designed on the roof by artist Kirsten McCrea offers a lively view of the surrounding rooms.
Located around the gardens that surround The Living Room’s glass cube, the guestrooms at the W Toronto are surprising due to their unique layout. The space is composed of two distinct areas: one private and the other rather social. In a departure from the usual hotel room configuration, the bed is placed in front of the window and adorned with warm drapery, pendant lighting, and a deep blue frame that extends across the floor and walls. These elements stand like a movie set at the back of the room, but the perspective completely changes as you shift your gaze towards the door and glance over elements that usually belong behind the scenes, like a dressing room-style vanity mirror and a clothing rack. The result is an inviting and friendly area that is conducive to warm gatherings that punctuate outings in the city.
“This innovative new layout also allows for extra living space within each unit,” adds Leblanc.
SKYLIGHT Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
Accessible by an elevator located on the street, the rooftop bar & restaurant is inspired by the city’s multicultural quality, but also by the hippie culture specific to Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. “Mashrabiya'' type perforated screens, hanging plants, colourful ceramics, and warm tones create a decor worthy of the tales in The Arabian Nights. A relaxed atmosphere that harmoniously juxtaposes the warmth of the desert with the comfort of the Riad is a great place to linger.
Spacious and elegant, the Extreme WOW suites take the theatrical themes that inhabit the hotel to the extreme. Rows of light bulbs adorn the ceiling as an ode to the shining theatre marquees of Toronto. With a hot tub that can also be used as an ice bucket and be punctuated with luxurious details and retro-futuristic accents, the suites offer spacious living areas designed to entertain the most exclusive and glamorous of parties.