Designs released for Drake Hotel expansion by Diamond Schmitt Architects

Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects
Courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

Toronto’s Drake Hotel is about to enlarge its footprint on vibrant Queen Street West with a design by Diamond Schmitt Architects.

The Hotel will add 32 guest rooms and an expanded lobby in a thoughtful yet provocative addition to the original building from the 1890s. “Our design for the expanded Drake engages history, modernity and urban collage to reflect the vibrant cultural scene of Queen West,” said Donald Schmitt, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.

The scale of the addition focuses on a modest horizontal growth along Queen Street that is in keeping with the urban form as well as the existing structure. A four-storey masonry base is topped with a setback, cantilevered suite crafted in reflective steel. The choice of materiality riffs on the layered textures of this historic neighbourhood, with its ties to industry, railroads, and now, as a hot bed of culture and entertainment.

“This design pushes the practice of conservation and challenges our idea of building tradition, evolving city form and furthering cultural value,” added heritage specialist Philip Evans of ERA Architects. 

A new pedestrian bridge spans the existing Sky Yard, which will be framed by a large open steel form. Contemporary glazing on the new façade with both vertical and horizontal emphasis will pop out from the masonry frame against the embedded forms of previous facades and windows on the site.

“Our expansion reflects our deep commitment to growing alongside our neighbourhood, respecting our roots, and creating timeless spaces that act as a cultural bellwether for locals and visitors alike,” said Jeff Stober, founder and CEO, Drake Hotel Properties. The Drake’s signature, playful approach to interior design will be developed by +tongtong and DesignAgency.

To a full schedule of performance and art installations, The Drake’s expansion will add to its possibilities as a centre for contemporary expression in all its forms with an architecture that enables encounter. “The design approach is one of apertures, creating moments between spaces that heighten the kind of interaction one expects at The Drake – serendipitous, ephemeral and repeating,” added Schmitt.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2017, with a projected completion of 18 to 24 months following ground break.