Core Architects Inc is an award-winning group of architects and interior designers based in Toronto. Since our formation we have quickly distinguished ourselves by our innovative yet thoughtful design solutions.
The evolution of cannabis dispensaries from hard to find, unsophisticated retail environments to carefully orchestrated brand experiences will only accelerate as demand and competition increases in this growing retail segment and cannabis retail store design is a critical component of the equation.
At Hunny Pot CORE was faced with an expedited time-frame to deliver a store design concept over 4 retail levels. The team worked closely with the Client and their consultants to execute a fully designed store to mark the opening of the first licensed Cannabis retail store in Toronto.
Located in the trendy Queen West downtown neighbourhood, the multi-level retail space was designed to embrace the open central atrium and skylight and designate each level specifically for shopping zones. The simple, clean and modern store design makes use of the hexagon shape to pay homage to the owner’s namesake/store name and ‘Hunny’ theme.
Upon entering the space, guests are greeted into a reception area with a large moss green wall, gold reception desk and 11-foot high double-perforated black metal screens that create larger honeycomb shapes when only viewed at certain angles. A series of black and white painted rift-cut oak hexagon-shaped tables undulate on the upper levels as an interactive bud bar; some with glass showcase displays to highlight key products. The theme is also carried through the store with a sequence of gold metal vertical strips mounted on the wall mimicking drips of honey located next to the lower cash area. Additional elements of greenery are layered through-out each level with cascading vines; and the colour and material palette of glass, black and gold metal mixed with white and black wood were utilized to complement the existing interior finishes and space.
With the excitement surrounding licensing retail stores to open in Ontario, the rules and regulations limited realistic schedules for new retailers to conceptualize a Brand and open a brick and mortar shop in time for the deadline.
The challenge of the short time provided a lot of pressure to find a location, prepare a concept design simultaneously with the Branding development and production of the fixtures in the span of fewer than 8 weeks. The investment the client put forth was heavily geared on creating a comfortable, inviting and beautiful space that would change the stigma of the cannabis industry and educate new users and help facilitate it into becoming more mainstream.
The vision and main focus were to create an environment that would resonate with and allow for repeat customers to choose their retail store over the other competitors that were also saturating the market. Core needed to meet the daunting task of achieving the client’s goal to open on the deadline date so that they could make a historic footprint in the industry and set themselves apart.
For all of our clients we emphasise the following best practices which include;
The space should reinforce your brand experience through immersive design. Your space should tell a story, the story of your brand. Visitors need to be immersed in your brand messaging and what your brand represents to their lifestyle.
As with all retail, the story begins long before the visitor enters your store. It begins with the storefront, the signage, the wayfinding the storefront display. It needs to capture the attention of the passing foot traffic and entice them in. It sets the tone of the experience yet to come.
The entrance, the second brand touchpoint. As most visitors will visually look to right it is important to place merchandise outpost or special displays in this key sight line as it represents the beginning of critical circular path your visitor will travel through the space from front to back.
Strategically merchandise by not overcrowding your floor space, too many product options and choices can actually reduce sales. Technology can help here by moving product offering to a digital interface with touchscreen menus.
Enhance the experience digitally by using digital shelf space in the form touchscreen menu kiosks which can allow visitors to explore your entire inventory and special order items. These kiosks can provide key product information and user reviews, greatly enhancing the visitor experience when coupled with effective visual design. In cannabis retail store design these types of technologies can help showcase product options that are not necessarily held in inventory but are available through the special order process, which can greatly increase product offerings and revenue streams.
Aesthetics should represent the personality of the overall vision. Furniture, fixtures, decorations that represent a singular theme can all help support a brand statement and create a memorable experience for your visitors.
The move to our new offices is finally complete and we are now settling into our new 15,000 sq.ft space at 130 Queens Quay East. The Daniels Corporation which developed the property is putting the final touches on the building and the interior fit out of the ground floor retail tenants are well underway.
An entire weekend was needed along with 500 moving bins, 7 movers, 150 dollies and 1500 moving labels to complete the move. Our IT team after weeks of careful planning, preparation and deployment issues finally brought our servers online Saturday. Mission critical equipment including our Jura Professional Coffee Machines (which dispensed over 28,000 cups of coffee in the past year) was quickly made operational. Our entire team arrived on Sunday to begin the process of unpacking and getting ready for the upcoming work week in an effort to facilitate a seamless transition to the new space to minimize any disruption to workflow and client deadlines.
While the open concept design is similar to our previous location, the unobstructed views and natural light are an enormous improvement over our Adelaide street offices which over the years became a bit dark and gloomy as the office was slowly surrounded by condominium and office towers. The additional light has resulted in the appearance of far more plants on staff desks than in the previous office. The beech finished workstations from 20 years ago have been replaced with clean white laminate designs from Global Furniture Group. A large staff lounge which features bar top seating with views of the lake and city skyline, soft L shaped sofas, an oversized communal table and the six microwave ovens are also a welcome improvement, putting an end to the lunchtime lines of staff waiting to warm their food.
When we first moved into our Adelaide and Peter Street offices 20 years ago there were only nine of us. The neighbourhood was dominated by warehouse buildings, fur shops and an alternative arts community. As the firm grew to over 100 the neighbourhood also evolved and slowly gentrified becoming home to thousands of millennials who abandoned the suburbs, eventually becoming the Entertainment District and home to TIFF.
Our new neighbourhood at Queens Quay is experiencing a similar transformation as the land is repurposed and giving birth to robust mixed-use communities. We believe that this neighbourhood will become as vibrant and sophisticated as the one we left behind. We are excited about this next chapter in the evolution of CORE and we look forward to the next 20 years.
Dockside Whitby Harbour located at 1900 Brock street south is Brookfield Homes newest development. The project is comprised of two parcels located on opposite sides of Brock street south, in the town of Whitby. The West parcel is surrounded on three sides by Lake Ontario and bounded by Whitby Harbour to the north, west and south sides. The East Parcel is located on the east side of Brock street south and is bordered by woodlots to the north and south.
The development will bring a much-needed revitalization of the area with the design of this mixed-use community. Situated on over 20 acres of Lake Ontario waterfront, Dockside is the largest waterfront development in Whitby. Upon completion, the development will increase accessibility to the waterfront and create a destination for the public through amenities and active recreational space that will connect to existing networks.
This 10 tower mixed-use development is situated on two parcels of land and will feature towers ranging from 12 – 33 storeys. The West parcel consists of three development blocks including six towers totalling up to 1,200 – 1,300 residential units with commercial and open spaces situated on the ground level with a total GFA of 1,053,399 sq.ft. The East parcel consists of two blocks totalling up to 450 – 600 residential units with its own retail and park blocks adding an additional GFA 339,288 sq.ft. A total of 37,674 sq.ft of retail space is to be provided on the ground floor promenade of the site overlooking the waterfront, creating a vibrant mixed-use community.
MASTER PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS
The development of a concise master plan for the subject site with considerations such as coordinating servicing and parking access minimizes the negative impacts on the public realm. Designing building blocks to transition in scale with surrounding and planned context will ensure sustainable development and quality of life. The inherent nature of that transition in scale allows for diverse housing types, again adding diversity to the public realm.
Pedestrian walkability, cycling and public transportation connections,
Locating appropriate uses and building scale adjacent to publicly accessible parks would add to the value and quality of life within the neighbourhood. They should be organized to fit within the adjacent existing context and within the planned context,
Massing distribution/tower separations to maintain views and minimize shadows on neighbouring streets. The composition would include a diversity of building types and grade-related retail where applicable. This diversity would characterize an urban model with safe comfortable, animated, vibrant and attractive public realm and pedestrian environment.
Pragmatic considerations such as size and dimension of blocks: the layout of blocks should be designed based on efficient parking layouts, fire access, shared servicing areas etc. Overall, the grain of the blocks should reflect an urban pattern focused on walkability.
Margins and efficiencies are critical to the success of these large scale developments. These include structural efficiencies, mechanical and plumbing distribution efficiencies, designing repetition into suite layouts and finally efficiencies in the exterior cladding. It also includes a rigorous selection of sustainable strategies, materials and equipment that have longevity. All of these efforts are to control the final construction cost to ensure an early return on investment. The intensification of these sites must also be achieved with sensitivity to the needs of the market if the projects are to maximize the return on investment.
BUILT FORM CONSIDERATIONS
Achieving floor plate efficiencies for economic viability (saleable to GFA).
Scale and relationship of podiums and the net effect on the public realm;
Articulation through the use of material, and built form;
Examining efficiencies of services such as loading and parking.
Selection of quality materials to ensure longevity and sustainability and marketability in a highly competitive market.
CORE’s experience locally and abroad in designing residential/multipurpose buildings within areas at or near a body of water, within flood plains or high water tables were drawn upon during the initial concept design phase.
As a starting point, examining soils reports to determine water level, water flow, saturation, hydrostatic pressure and bearing capacity will help inform the constraints and consideration for development. Elevations and setbacks from 100-year flood plain lines and specific zoning criteria for the site will also be examined to understand setbacks and levels of occupied spaces.
Other factors that have constructability/cost considerations would be shoring, water management for foundation walls and foundation design i.e. raft slab to counter hydrostatic pressure.
Assessing the condition of the existing sea wall; will existing need to be reinforced or a new partial build to maintain municipal erosion requirements
Conducting underwater surveys to establish the historic significance of fill, if contamination exists, exposing stormwater spillway locations etc.
Our initial site exploration looked at a number of massing layouts that explored density distribution, maximize views, privacy, sunlight, shadowing while having a built form that is unique and identifiable. The overall composition is minimal and modern. It appeals to a diverse crowd that is very cognoscente of identifying the correlation between their surroundings with their lifestyle and image they would like to portray.
From our work experience, the design challenges are the integration of architectural design between the current surrounding built form and one that is sustainable.
Achieving a homogeneous development is important but does not imply mimicking the existing neighbourhood built form.
Creating a development that seamlessly integrates into the existing fabric.
Providing an appropriate transition between the existing built forms. Interstitial spaces between these built forms allow sufficient space for light, views and privacy for a quality living environment.
Maintain appropriate building separation between new buildings and neighbouring tower.
In order to build a community, the design of the buildings must take every opportunity to encourage and facilitate interaction between its residents.
The site’s location on the outer edge of Whitby Harbour jutting out into Lake Ontario allows for exceptional views from all directions. The design expression responds to this site condition by becoming a simple gridded composition of white, rectangular buildings that are meant to be seen from a distance and silhouetted again the sky. The design borrows from the nautical traditions that include teak decking, simple white painted structural elements and generous outside stepping terraces. The design meets the ground in a series of staggered townhouses framed by a white metal panel with wooden soffits or 3 storeys of terraced condo units, offset and stepped back to maximize outdoor living space. All units will have generous sheltered balconies recessed into the building shape and fully glazed at both ends.
In recognition of her exceptional contribution to our client’s needs, her professionalism, design expertise and leadership while advancing the firm’s values we are pleased to announce the following Associate appointment
Soha Wadood – Associate
Soha Wadood joined CORE in 2010 after receiving her BA in Interior Design from Ryerson University. She has nine years of experience in interior design, project management and construction supervision in retail and residential projects. She is responsible for maintaining the client relationship through the management of the project and her team.
In her role as a project manager, Soha will oversee the team’s initial review to ensure code compliance, the production of the design and working drawings, tender package and permit documents. Soha is also responsible for consultant coordination and drawing review to ensure alignment with approved design intent and brand requirement while managing the contract administration phase.
The construction of our new offices at 130 Queens Quay East is progressing quickly with the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, framing, and drywall nearly complete. The mechanical and electrical as well as the concrete structure of the seventh floor’s natural structure will be exposed in the floor’s final design and will enhance the building’s industrial aesthetic, which will also include the exposed concrete and open ceiling system.
The design includes an open creative environment for the architectural staff fused with raw materials and natural lighting. The sophisticated and warm materials in the work environments contain natural wood décor and metallic accents, punctuated by more playful elements such as the boldly coloured partitions separating the various work areas or the bean bag chairs in the kitchen lounge.
In contrast, the bold client spaces are distinguished by dark tile and metal finishes. The black elevators and fixtures will be surrounded by black porcelain that wraps the floor and the walls, which are lit from the top. The monochromatic design and wall washing will create a dramatic entranceway, a design aesthetic that will be echoed throughout the other client areas such as reception and the guest lounge.
The two large board rooms were designed as both a space for client meetings and a place for gatherings. The two sliding doors connecting the boardrooms allow for a flexible use of the space. When opened, they create one large boardroom in order to accommodate the large staff parties and are next to a separate kitchen and and espresso bar for clients. The suspended light fixtures and dark walnut acoustic paneling on the roof and walls will add warmth to the underlying warehouse aesthetic and will be complimented by a large Roma Imperial granite table at the center of each boardroom.
Overall, the use of glass walls and open concept design will create a transparent and connected culture, illuminated by natural light through the floor-to-ceiling windows. The new space was designed to reflect CORE Architects’ personality, while also showcasing our creativity and work culture.
CORE moved to 317 Adelaide Street West in 1996. Occupying a modest 2,000 sq. ft. office on the sixth floor, it would become our home for next twenty-two years. During that time the office would grow from its three founding principals to a staff of over one-hundred employees, eventually occupying the entire 10,000 sq. ft. of the sixth floor. The continued growth of the firm has now necessitated that we finally leave the entertainment district and move to a new 20,000 sq. ft. office located at 130 Queens Quay East, part of The Daniels Waterfront.
The Daniels Waterfront – City of the Arts will be a fully connected community that enhances arts, culture, and innovation in Toronto. Its design seamlessly incorporates living, work, and leisure. The new offices will occupy the entire seventh floor, with breathtaking views of the city and Lake Ontario. It will feature a custom modern open concept design by CORE Architects that blends with the buildings exterior warehouse typology.
The design intent was to echo the warehouse typology and take advantage of the floor-to-ceiling windows through an open concept design. The use of exposed concrete and piping, black accents, and polished concrete flooring accentuated the industrial warehouse design philosophy. The sharp contrast achieved through the juxtaposition of black and white gives the office an undeniably sleek and modern feel. The décor introduces a soft and natural colour palette of sandbar, alloy, milk, and char to compliment the prevailing tones. The office embodies the firm’s work-play culture with the addition of a golf simulator and espresso bar.
As the floor-plate is angled in such a way that even from the west view, you can see both the city and the water, each desk in the office benefits from the views and natural light. On the south side of the building, beautiful views overlooking Sugar Beach. The intent behind the design was to create an environment that was reflective of the firm’s transparent and intimate work culture. The open and dynamic work space is designed to encourage discussion and teamwork.
The Adidas Originals store on 389 Queen Street West is Toronto’s Adidas flagship store for the brand. Adidas has selected CORE to work exclusively on all of the renovations and newly-built Adidas stores in Canada.
Its new neighborhood retail design is aimed at its street-wear consumers. Adidas plans on renovating select flagship locations. The designs will feature site-specific elements based on each store’s surroundings, connected by an overarching global design. Toronto’s Adidas Originals store is the first to implement localization, with renovations for Vancouver and Montreal complete.
For Toronto’s flagship location, Adidas worked with Gyimah Gariba, a Toronto-based illustrator. His bespoke art installations are featured throughout the store. According to Michael Smyth, Adidas Canada’s director of stores, the neighborhood concept store is meant to build the community. The site-specific location is designed to engage with people who love their brand by creating a space that is more than just the brand. The interior of the 5,000 square foot location is enhanced by concrete and tile. While the exterior façade enhances the character of the street with the use of brick, stone, and slate. CORE worked with a heritage reviewer to ensure the design respects the adjacent heritage surrounding buildings. The design both maintains and enhances the street edge continuity while also respecting the scale of adjacent contributing buildings. The store also features an upstairs space, designed for product exclusives and other events targeted at the brand’s community.
The Adidas stores follows the global agency’s guidelines as well as the city’s influence of style and culture. CORE presents unique designs, authentic to each location. CORE works exclusively on all of the renovations and newly-built Adidas stores in Canada, ranging from approximately 3,000 to 11,000 square feet.
The Residences of 488 University development intensification project will transform Global House, the 1968-built tower at 480 University Avenue. Renovations began with the removal of the existing cladding, and a new glass exterior now enhances the grille facade. In addition to renovating the 18-storey office tower, 37 residential floors will be added above the existing tower.
Precast Removal at 488 University - Vimeo
The building has undergone extensive renovations since the beginning of its reconstruction in 2015. The 18-storey structure’s cladding has been stripped and replaced with all glass panels. The narrow mullions resemble the building’s previous concrete facade while also increasing the amount of sunlight that reaches the building’s interior. New steel structures have also been inserted around the building and parking garage below the office tower has been excavated. Throughout the construction process, the interior office spaces remained functional.
The Residences of 488 University pushes Toronto’s structural engineering limits with its exoskeleton structural support system installed by Sigmund Soudack & Associates. The 1968-built tower has been enclosed by the building’s new glazing. A custom jig apparatus was designed by Walters Group to safely remove the precast from the building. The device engages with the curtain wall and then it releases sections of it, which are then slowly lowered down. There are also new horizontal perimeter steel beams along the face of the existing building exterior and cross bracing to attract the lateral load from the additional residential floors. Long span transfer beams will be utilized on the 20th floor, forming a table-like structure. These transfer beams will distribute the load of the new tower directly to the new vertical steel structure that surrounds the building without stressing any of the existing structure.
The final renovations to the office building include a new facade and the addition of a three-storey podium. The total area of office space within the existing building is proposed to be retained as part of the development intensification project. The ground floor of the three storey podium will continue to accommodate retail and service commercial uses accessible from University Avenue. Upon competition, the building will be 55 storeys high and contain 453 residential units.
Toronto sees public art as an extension of its buildings, and through the Toronto Official Plan, private sector developments are encouraged to allocate a percent of their budget to public art. The guiding principles behind the Percent for Public Art Program is to further enrich the environment by making buildings and open spaces more attractive for the city’s residents and visitors. The 87 Peter art installation contributes to this initiative with a bold piece by Jaako Pernu. The installation wraps around the west and north elevations of the above-ground commercial parking lot of 87 Peter, located in Toronto’s entertainment district, making a strong visual statement for the street.
Jaako Pernu, a sculptor and environmental artist from Finland, was a perfect choice for this large-scale project. He enjoys making site-specific artwork, distinguished by the use of oversized natural materials. His recent work includes many public displays in Europe and Canada. The 87 Peter art installation is designed to spread awareness of climate change through his artistic depiction of a gigantic air pressure map adapted from a North American weather forecast. In his proposal, Pernu expressed his concern about the changing climate with “recent years showing increasing temperatures in various regions and increasing extremities in weather patterns.” His piece is designed to spread awareness of “one of the greatest threats facing the planet” in a visual way.
Pernu searched through hundreds of barometric maps before finding one that suited the site. His aluminium design is displayed across grey paneling, enhancing the facade of the three-storey parking lot. The white contours mounted onto aluminium plates depict barometric isobars, which trace lines of equal pressure to map out atmospheric patterns.
Jaako Pernu’s vision is integrated into 87 Peter. His work is one of the many high quality pieces displayed throughout the city that enhance Toronto’s urban fabric.
In recognition of their exceptional contribution to our client’s needs, their professionalism, design expertise and leadership while advancing the firm’s values we are pleased to announce the following new Partner, Senior Associate and Associate appointments.
Earl Mark – Partner
Earl Mark graduated from McGill University in 1999, and the following year, he began his career at CORE. He has been an active contributor to the growth of the office and has helped deliver many projects with the high level of excellence from both a design and documentation perspective that has become synonymous with CORE.
Believing in the old adage that if something is to be done, it should be done right, Earl oversees projects in all phases of development, navigating considerations of both the client and the city, ensuring projects are aligned with design intent. Earl has led many projects that required coordination of not only stakeholder interest but those also involving public participation. He also plays a significant role in projects that have helped reshape neighbourhoods such as the Byward Market and Centretown in Ottawa and Allenbury Gardens in Toronto, to larger urban environments such as the Dubai Marina.
Being involved in the growth of the office since its early years, Earl has helped establish many of the processes and standards employed by CORE. He provides leadership within the office, including mentoring and assisting project teams in design, and addressing regulatory or technical concerns.
Gabriela Estrada grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, graduating from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (I.T.E.S.M) in 1991 with a Bachelor of Architecture. After a successful career practising architecture in Mexico, she immigrated to Canada and joined CORE in 1998.
During her initial tenure at CORE Gabriela worked on various projects including condominiums, private homes, and restaurants. In 2001, she became the point of contact for MAC Cosmetics when CORE became the Architect of Record for the brand. Under her stewardship, a 15-year relationship would develop that would result in 1,300 retail deployments with the brand. During this time, Gabriela became a driving force in the evolution of the retail studio, and in the past 16 years, the team has been responsible for over 1,500 retail rollouts and over 1.3 million square feet of retail space globally.
In addition to the management of the retail studio, Gabriela’s primary focus is new clientele, client relations, and attracting high profile brands including SONY, Lacoste, Limited Brands, Adidas, H&M and Saks off Fifth. She has also been instrumental in expanding CORE’s retail practice into the United States where we are now licenced in thirty-three states.
She has attended retail conferences in Madrid, Athens, London, New York, Singapore, Dubai, and Dusseldorf expanding her knowledge of retail trends and practices globally.
Raised in Northern Saskatchewan and rural Ontario, Brian earned a Bachelor of Architecture Sciences at Ryerson Polytechnic University in 2005 and a Master of Architecture at the University of Toronto in 2010. He has over 15 years of Architectural experience in both architecture and landscape architecture firms. His project experience includes master planning, multi-unit and single-family residential buildings, and community parks and plazas.
Brian joined CORE Architects in 2010 where he has participated in numerous condominium projects from low rise project of only of 11 storeys to large multi-tower projects up to 88 storeys, including The One in partnership with Foster + Partners and most recently M City Phases 1 and 2.
Daniel Lee was born in Lancashire, England, graduating from Liverpool JM University in 2004 with a Bachelor Honours in International Architecture. He also holds a post-graduate Diploma in Architecture and is a LEED accredited professional and a RIBA Qualified Architect. With over 14 years of design experience in Canada and internationally, he joined CORE Architects in 2010.
His project experience includes master planning and all occupancy classes. Daniel has been responsible for our work with clients such as Porsche and Cineplex and has completed over 30 projects nationally, including the new Cineplex Rec Room entertainment complexes.
Eric studied at Ryerson University and graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Technology. Eric has over 19 years of Canadian and International architectural experience, he has worked with all occupancy classes which includes multi-residential, hospitality, institutional, medical, commercial, retail, industrial and municipal infrastructure work.
Eric joined CORE in 2009 and became an associate in 2010. Eric’s role at CORE has been strongly focused on various condominium projects for numerous developers. His experience also includes the management of numerous hospitality projects such as the Ritz Carlton renovations.
Peter Arth – Senior Associate
Peter Arth was born and raised in Burlington, Ontario. He studied at Mohawk College and Ryerson University, graduating with a Bachelor of Technology in 1996. He worked for KNY Architects in Burlington after graduation before moving to Toronto in 1999 and joining CORE. After a three-year hiatus in 2006 at HPA, Peter returned to CORE in 2009 and became an Associate in 2010.
Peter has 22 years of Canadian and international architectural experience, which includes multi-residential, hospitality, institutional, commercial, and retail projects. Peter’s role at CORE has been to provide contract documentation for our numerous condominium projects.
Dena graduated from the Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran in 2007 with a Bachelor of Architecture. She has over ten years of project architect experience, including master-planning, recreational and sports facilities, and performing art centres.
Dena joined CORE in 2013 and while she has been involved in all stages of project delivery, her strong background in design has been an asset to the firm during the concept design and design development phases of various projects. She has worked on notable projects including The One, M City Condominiums Phase 1 and 3, and several of our projects in Dubai.
Georgia Siourounis – Associate
Georgia studied Architecture at Ryerson University, graduating with a Bachelor of Architectural Science in 2007. She joined CORE in 2012 and has been working exclusively on our high-rise residential projects.
She has taken a lead role in the master-planned community at Central Park and for the technically complex office and condominium conversion of The Residences of 488 University. She has been responsible for ensuring positive client experiences, managing consultants and trades, communicating with city officials, and coordinating with the Toronto Transit Commission all while maintaining the integrity of the established design intent.
Saina Hamidi – Associate
Saina received a Master degree of Architecture in 2005 from Azad University of Iran (AUI). She moved to Canada in 2013 and been with CORE since then. With over 13 years of experience with various architectural classes internationally, including medical, industrial, and hospitality before joining CORE. Saina’s current role is focused primarily on our condominium projects, including 6th and 10th in Calgary and The Residences of 488 University.