Split Rock, Toronto

Kilogram Studio, Toronto / dbdbdb, Toronto

Photography by Scott Norsworthy

Split Rock is a compact retail store comprising two shimmering rock-like objects on the concourse of Brookfield Place in Toronto’s Financial District. They nestle beneath the escalator to the Santiago Calatrava-designed Allen Lambert Galleria above. The escalator’s imaginary waterfall-like force created the project’s asymmetrical forms. Actually, the shape of the store’s thin shells, of powder-coated diamond-patterned steel mesh, was determined not by metaphoric (or metamorphic) hydraulic and geostatic pressure, but by site conditions. The geometry responds to the challenge of tight adjacency to the escalator and the need for the store to be visible from above and from all directions on the concourse. The split plan addresses the busy traffic patterns of pedestrians through the concourse and takes advantage of the natural light spilling from above. The interstitial space between the shells forms a generous walkway whose skewed orientation opens inviting sightlines to merchandise and staff. Internal lighting gives the shells a translucent, beacon-like quality that reflects off the escalator’s mirror finish.