Hotel on the East Side: Merging Heritage and Hipsters
A view of The Broadview Hotel’s rooftop dining experience. Credit: DesignAgency (Rendering by Norm Li)
A 125-year-old landmark building with a long history that up until recently housed an infamous strip club is poised to become a cultural hub for a neighbourhood that has seen tremendous growth and gentrification in the last few years.
Scheduled to open in June, The Broadview Hotel is the result of a Streetcar Developments and Dream Unlimited partnership. Located at the northwest corner of Queen and Broadview, it has housed banks, businesses, clubs and public meetings for decades. The Romanesque Revival style building was originally completed in 1892 and at one time stood as the region’s tallest building east of the Don River. ERA Architects were responsible for its recent restoration, undertaking sensitive repairs, replacements and reinstatements of various elements such as entrances, storefronts, windows and cornices. Their impressive efforts yielded them a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award Excellence in Conservation in 2016.
The transformation into a new boutique and lifestyle hotel continues with Matt Davis, founding partner of the DesignAgency—a firm globally recognized for their specialty in hospitality interiors. Davis’s firm is creating a series of new and exciting experiences in the lobby, dining, café and bar areas, in addition to the hotel’s various rooms. Commissioning custom lighting, art, wallpaper and furniture design, he and his team are embarking on what is expected to become an integral social hub for the Leslieville neighbourhood.
A rendering of hotel’s reception area anticipating the custom neon art installations and sculptural elements surrounding the refurbished elevators. Credit: DesignAgency (Rendering by Norm Li)
Beginning at the ground level, an art installation made from repurposed fire escapes that used to adorn the outside of the building surrounds brass elevator doors near the reception desk. A custom-designed neon light fixture will help define the lobby area with an adjoining café and bar. An event space will be on the second floor and on the seventh floor, where there will be a rooftop bar and terrace offering unique views of the Toronto skyline, Don Valley and surrounding neighbourhood. Of special note, a private dining room is being designed inside the hotel’s iconic turret with an extraordinary vaulted ceiling, warm wood tones and original interior brickwork, completed with vintage chandeliers and custom lighting. As in many areas of the hotel, historic features of the building such as the wood beams and exposed bricks will be showed to its full advantage. Windows, mouldings and other decorative elements provide ample inspiration—wallpaper included. As Davis notes, “We discovered areas with four or five layers of wallpaper. The original layer was hand-painted with bolder prints found on subsequent layers and where the last layer ironically resembled the first. We hired an artist to study the wallpaper and make a new print, layering it forward so to speak.”
It’s difficult and perhaps unavoidable to not draw at least some inspiration from Jilly’s—the former strip club that once occupied the building. Some of the signage, a racy wallpaper print in one section of the hotel and one of the room’s design on the sixth floor takes more than a few design cues from the previous strip club. In a subtle gesture, Davis explains how a custom-designed brass "utility pole" will hold up objects like mirrors, keys and trays in the hotel rooms.
As for the furniture, Davis describes it as being “eclectic boudoir” with a mix of contemporary and mid-century design intended to build up a narrative for the hotel. Rooms will have turntables with records from local stores and an art consultant was brought in to curate the integration of art into the interior design strategy. Davis is convinced the hotel will be a local hotspot, and will inevitably add to the evolution of a culturally rich area.
IIDEXCanada will be featuring a hospitality design summit on November 29-30 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with our new partnership with Boutique Design magazine, BDNY and BDWest.
In addition to his firm's many accolades, Davis's firm the DesignAgency has recently received numerous awards for their Generator projects, including a Gold Key Award for Excellence in Hospitality Design from BDNY for the Generator Amsterdam project in 2016 and Generator London in 2015. Davis was a panelist on restaurant design at IIDEXCanada 2016 with other notables panelists such as chefs Anthony Walsh , Benjamin Heaton and the executive editor of Boutique Design, Mary Scoviak. Stay tuned for this year's hospitality-related programming which will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information on The Broadview Hotel or to view the virtual tour, please visit thebroadviewhotel.ca. Click here for more information on the Boutique Design Pavilion at IIDEXCanada 2017.