Driven to realize projects that inspire, Quadrangle Architects Limited (www.quadrangle.ca) is celebrating 25 years of success. Since opening its doors, this Canadian design powerhouse has become one of the country’s leading architecture, design and planning firms. Long relationships with great clients mean the firm has created some of Canada’s most notable buildings and interiors. Quadrangle’s portfolio includes landmark multi-unit residential buildings, iconic retail buildings and leading-edge media headquarters. In Toronto, the firm has brought disused heritage buildings back to life, created vital neighbourhoods in old industrial areas and helped shape the urban experience.
The firm began in 1986 when founding principals Brian Curtner and Les Klein combined their practices around a shared vision of design excellence and business insight. As the firm grew, team members Ted Shore, Susan Ruptash and Sheldon Levitt became principals. They joined Curtner and Klein in leading what is now a dynamic 60-person studio located in the heart of Toronto’s vibrant King West precinct, near the financial district. Quadrangle’s creativity, technical ability, exceptional service and business focus have made it the go-to firm for Canada’s successful developers and entrepreneurs. “We are first and foremost urban architects, and bring an urban sensibility to all of our projects,” says Klein. “We also look to the site’s physical, social and historic context for inspiration, bringing to bear our creative problem-solving approach to design to unlock solutions.” Over 50 awards and recognitions demonstrate Quadrangle’s importance in design for communities across Canada and abroad.
Quadrangle’s people-focussed approach sets the firm apart; the team forges long-term client relationships and understands a building’s full requirements, while sensitively and responsibly addressing each site. Noted for adapting old buildings to new uses, the firm has strong expertise in executing complex projects and prides itself on being an authority of accessible architecture and universal design. The architects have earned design awards for mixed-use developments, multi-unit residential buildings, commercial interiors, leading-edge media facilities and retail environments. Throughout the years, Quadrangle has invested in the environment by developing leadership in sustainable design and construction. The firm first made headlines in 1987 with a landmark Toronto building for Moses Znaimer’s Citytv. Quadrangle understood Znaimer’s vision and transformed a heritage industrial building into a living urban studio. 299 Queen Street West became home to the wildly successful Citytv and MuchMusic franchises and an icon for millions of viewers. Quadrangle went on to prestigious commissions from Rogers, TVO, CBC and Corus Entertainment.
Quadrangle’s skill at shaping branded environments attracts retail’s brightest stars; clients have included The Gap, Sephora and BMW. When the legendary carmaker hired Quadrangle to convert a disused Toronto factory into BMW’s flagship store, the design team created an outsized showcase beside the Don Valley Parkway. This memorable landmark is an eloquent expression of BMW’s brand and achieved the Award of Excellence from the Ontario Association of Architects for its groundbreaking design. Similar themes animate another roadside project: committed to elevating the travel experience, Quadrangle’s client asked for a unique group of branded service centres. Twenty ONroute facilities will open by 2012. Beacons of comfort by Ontario’s highways, their distinctive design recalls traditional northern Canadian buildings and landscapes.
Quadrangle’s reputation for multi-unit residential development has brought unusual challenges. In Toronto’s Candy Factory lofts, the firm created imaginative condominiums in a century-old timber frame factory. For a large-scale condominium development, Studio on Richmond, designers reinforced small-scale historic context with a dynamic composition of warehouse-style podiums and stacked towers.
Quadrangle’s boldest condominium project, 130 Bloor Street West, was completed in 2009. Quadrangle imagined a new ultra-luxury residential tower built on top of an existing modernist building in one of Toronto’s most prestigious locations. Challenges included reinforcing the existing structure, preserving a landmark penthouse and keeping offices open during construction. This project earned the 2009 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Award for Innovation.
“Canada is a place where unique culture, varied geography and climate interact allowing architects to test their limits and raise the bar,” says Curtner. “We are extremely proud of our team and feel our milestone anniversary is the perfect time to look forward and journey into the next 25 years.”
In 2010, Quadrangle completed the new Toronto headquarters for Corus Entertainment. This entertainment giant wanted to bring its facilities together under one green roof and create a media workplace for the digital age. Corus Quay is a breakthrough facility and has promoted serious creative play by reorganizing work and social spaces. This large facility has a remarkably small environmental footprint, targeting LEED Gold ratings for interiors, base building and neighbourhood. The project also earned a Rex Award for office development of the year. Corus Quay is a great capstone for Quadrangle and a fitting foundation for another quarter century of success.