The vintage brick and wood beam condominium loft is a fairly rare commodity in Toronto, with only around 400 units situated in a handful of adaptive reuse conversions in the central core of the City. One reason there aren't more, is that when the City of Toronto changed the zoning of the downtown core's industrial areas to 'Live/Work' in the mid 1990s, many of the existing warehouses were converted for commercial office use rather than residential. This was in part due to economics and demand. The cost to retrofit a century-old building into live/work condominium units is significantly higher than creating fewer corporate offices, given the residential building code necessitates higher standards for sound-attenuation and fire safety, as well as separately-metered systems for electrical and heating for each condominium unit. Furthermore, the demand for condominium loft living was untapped and untested at the time which increased the risk for developers, resulting in fewer condo conversions, whereas the demand for funky commercial rental space was growing with Toronto's emerging information. service and technology economies. As a result, the live/work 'hard loft' condominium is a rare commodity, and an excellent investment, especially given their once marginal industrial locations have - with their change in zoning and use - gentrified into trendy urban neighbourhoods.
The appeal of this type of dwelling is rooted in the artsy bohemian cool factor of New York in the 1960s and 1970s, when artists moved into the factories of SoHo for use as studio space. Symbolizing a liberated, progressive, non-conformist lifestyle, loft living today represents a place where one can be free to express one's individuality without convention. More expensive than conventional condominium housing, these unique urban spaces are coveted by affluent educated pro-urban professionals.
This Toronto loft - located in the neighbourhood of Riverside where Broadview & Queen Street East intersect - is in a conversion called The Broadview Lofts.
This factory warehouse was originally constructed in 1914 for the United Drug Company, which was owned by its founder, the American drugstore magnate Louis K. Liggett. In 1902, he persuaded 40 independent drug stores to invest $4,000 in a retailers' cooperative called United Drug Stores, which sold products under the Rexall name. After World War I, the cooperative established a franchise arrangement, whereby independently owned retail outlets adopted the Rexall trade name and sold Rexall products. The company was based in Boston, but the Rexall name continues to be well recognized in communities large and small all across Canada, including Toronto. From 1920 through to 1943, L.K. Liggett Druggists ran a pharmacy and soda fountain on the ground floor of 68 Broadview. In 2006, the Sorbara Group added two floors in the process of converting the nearly century old four floor building into 154 residential lofts. Today, the Broadview Lofts offers its residents true authentic loft living, and the enjoyment of historic red brick, polished concrete floors, industrial-scale ceiling heights, and original wood post and beam style construction evident within each loft's generous and open space plan.
Like most condominium developments, the building was pre-sold to prospective purchasers who could choose their interior finishes and fittings from a limited palette of standard options. Not to be limited, the owner engaged Studio AC to elevate this open concept loft beyond convention into a bespoke custom-tailored space.
This loft is soothing for the soul. The interior was recreated with minimal hues, which allows the factory aesthetic - including the metal spiral ductwork, concrete floors, and wood beams - to take centre stage.
The original red brick walls were painted white to lighten the space and imbue a more minimalist feel.
I love the fresh combination of polished concrete and white painted brick! It's so bright and airy!
How fortunate for the resident to come home to this tranquil zen space after a busy day.
The sleeping sanctuary is captivating. Defined by a floating arched wall and sheer curtain, it's understated luxe.
The diaphanous veil is ethereal, offering softness and texture to the otherwise hard edges of this former industrial space.
It's simple, dream-like and intimate.
Minimal yet comforting, this loft is a calm oasis.
And an ideal respite from the intensity of everyday urban life.
For more projects like this one, check out Studio AC
Images courtesy of Studio AC
For similar stories, check out these other entries on Houseporn.ca:
Have you heard the terms 'soft loft' and 'hard loft' but weren't quite sure what they meant?
Here's What Is The Difference Between A Hard Loft And A Soft Loft?, written by Steve Fudge, the purveyor of Houseporn.ca and the proprietor of Urbaneer.com, a division of Bosley Real Estate Ltd. (along with the introductory paragraphs).
Researched and Written by Mehra ElMesseery, Double Major in Architectural Studies, University of Toronto.