The Umbra Concept Store is a new retail venue to feature the company’s contemporary home accessories, to engage the public in the process of design and to host notable design events. The store features the main Umbra line as well as a number of limited edition pieces. By renovating an existing building the aim was to disguise yet enhance and exploit the building to its potential as a memorable landmark as it is sited along a significant urban axis featuring the Art Gallery of Ontario, Grange Park and City TV.
The existing steel frame building was outfitted with a more efficient envelope of glass and charcoal grey masonry units which are enclosed in a decorative veil of vertically oriented translucent plastic panels. The entry corner of the building was restructured with a dynamic new expression of supporting steel and a minimal glazing system that provides transparency and accommodates access. A strategic reconfiguration of the interior floor plates creates a seduction of spatial volumes. Two floors of retail are linked together through an open volume of space with a set of ramping platforms. Simultaneously circulation and display space, this element gives visitors time to adapt to a retail experience shaped by light. Access to the lower level is by a wide short stair to eliminate any sense of hierarchy between the two levels.
Three hundred polycarbonate panels, each measuring 16 inches wide by more than 10 feet high are extruded in a vibrant colour saturated with pink overtones to catch the attention of Queen Street West pedestrians and to stand out against the background of its immediate context. The panels, stacked 3-lengths high, provoke light, shadows and transparencies to interact with the views of the building.
The design also includes a large programmable window onto a public park as well as a third floor of premium tenant space. The result is the creation of a strong iconic form, married to a fresh approach in urban retail architecture. The design further enhances Umbra’s reputation for upholding innovation and adaptive reuse of existing structures and creates a new downtown destination that cannot be overlooked.
Location: 165 John St, Toronto, ON M5T 1X3, Canada Architect: Kohn Shnier Architects | John Shnier, Brigitte Luzar Interior Designer: Figure 3 Network | Chris Wright, Rob Jarschke Structural Engineer: Blackwell Bowick, David Bowick, Ethan Ghidoni, Matt Reid
Mechanical Engineer: ENSO Systems | Jacqueline Reuping
Electrical Engineer: HCC Engineering Ltd. | Howard Cohen
Urbacon: Antonio Mancini, Sergio Ricci, Heather Copp, Luc Proulx, and Rick White
Exterior Signage: King Architectural, Matt Gilas
Plastic Panels Manufacture A.L. Plastics: Peter Marrese, Alex Marion
Exterior Lighting Concept Consultant
Architectural Lighting Design: Bjarne Pedersen
Custom LED design and fabrication: GVA Lighting | Darren Woodcock
Photographer: Tom Arban Photography