Clocking in a new era: Clock Tower Lofts
Long before its conversion to residential lofts in the late 1990s, the Clock Tower Lofts was home to makers of prints, pianos, and paintings—a long legacy of creativity and industry.
Designed by Toronto-based firm Bortolotto, the primary purpose of this project was to take inspiration from the building’s storied history to create a stronger cultural connection between the residents and the surrounding community. To accomplish this, the design team’s primary goal was to breathe new life into the building while respectfully acknowledging its history.
Formerly “Westside Lofts,” the residents of this 14-story condominium tower located at the corner of King and Bathurst Streets, were seeking to engage a designer to take on the re-branding of their current image by exposing the building’s historical significance, as well as to design the interior lobby, new entrance canopy, and a revitalization of the building’s exterior.
The design process began with the re-branding assignment, which took cues from the building’s existing historic clock located prominently on the exterior of the building. The clock became the design inspiration through-out the tower revitalization concept, most notably into the custom ceiling design, which flows continuously from the interior elevator core wall, up to the ceiling, and through the entire lobby to the underside of the exterior canopy.The ceiling feature is made up of dropped steel panels and is laser cut with a graphic of the mechanical intricacies of a clock –toothed gears, numerals, and needles – eliciting a sense of intrigue and illusion within the space. The unique ceiling element provides the lobby with diffused illumination intentionally and carefully through the laser-cut perforations, creating a dramatic and inviting atmosphere.
The exterior design went through several iterations to ensure it respected the neighbourhood context. A colour refresh of the building’s facades was a budget-conscious decision that had a significant, dramatic impact on the transformation of the building and the public realm. The façade refresh emphasizes the building’s distinguished clock and simultaneously accentuates the indented corner detail facing the street intersection.
The characteristics that make this building a unique residential tower are also translated into the interior lobby design. The space was completely demolished to make way for a new experience. A reconfiguration of the entire layout considered a better flow for the building’s residents, visitors, and delivery personnel while maintaining security and visibility for the building’s concierge. A striking new exterior canopy was introduced to demark the entrance at ground level while also modernizing the busy King West streetscape.
Signage and new lighting on both the interior and exterior further illustrate and display the building’s new identity for both its residents and neighbours. The space was successfully re-imagined with a sensitive balance between the building’s roots and its aspirations for the future. Signage and new lighting on both the interior and exterior further illustrate and display the building’s new identity for both its residents and neighbours.