60_80: Reinventing Post and Beam with 21st Century Wood Construction

rendering of 80 Altantic showing the exposed wood frame


Originally a wine warehouse in the 1800s, the building at 60 Atlantic was slated for demolition before client Hullmark Developments intervened. Defying expectations, the architectural team restored the structure and created value by excavating the lower level, thereby creating a new entrance and a sunken patio that transformed the lower level into a prime commercial space. A new addition on the north side creates a clear difference in expression from the original building, while protecting and showcasing its historic bones.

60 Atlantic prior to renovations, looking run down

60 Atlantic also acts as an asset in the leasing of its future sister building, 80 Atlantic, which is set to establish a new standard-in-class.


Recent years have seen the brick and beam typology of previous centuries being embraced by the workforce of a new generation. Once the domain of factory and warehouse workers, today you’re more likely to see these spaces catering to some of the most sought-after talent in the technology, advertising, media and information (TAMI) industries.

photo of 60 Atlantic Avenue

The strong appeal of brick and beam buildings is in their quality of light, character, lofty internal spaces, and flexible use. This beautiful typology has its drawbacks, however. These heritage buildings are often dusty, draughty, leaky or loud. While contemporary office towers made of steel and concrete don’t have the same set of issues and have the added bonus of contemporary amenities and state of the art technology, they lack the aesthetic appeal of brick and beam that is so popular with TAMI office tenants. The shockingly high carbon emissions that come along with new office tower developments are also something to take into consideration when comparing the two building types.

Entrance to 80 Atlantic.


80 Atlantic defies convention by taking the best of a centuries-old typology and adapting it to our 21st century needs. A new build with four storeys of offices, retail at grade and a live music venue planned by its primary tenant, it is a combination of bold design and logistics, leading technologies, persistence, and imagination.

In order to transform this traditional manufacturing typology into a leading commercial building, 80 Atlantic retains the crucial elements but reinvents the way they are constructed by employing the newest materials, latest sustainable design strategies and innovative construction processes. The raised access floors and engineered plenums, which house mechanical, electrical and telecommunications services, mean that workspaces can be defined and redefined at will. The HVAC ducts, also in the engineered plenum, allow for more effective, locally customizable and healthier distribution of air. Collating these services in-floor gives users an exposed wood ceiling, which is unobstructed by services and can thereby evenly and more effectively illuminate the space. The beauty then is that you get the aesthetics akin to the historic brick and beam alongside the systems and environmental benefits of the most state-of-the-art Class A office.

In place of the traditional brick walls – massive but uninsulated and leaky – is a hung rain screen system. The porcelain finish, customarily too heavy for a wood-frame building, is laminated to a substrate and hung with thermally broken stainless steel clips. This mitigates the load and allows the building to maintain a masonry shell while also providing a properly insulated and air tight façade. As for glazing, the traditional punch windows have been repatterned (per a study of traditional proportions) and, on the basis of an intensive micro-climate study, sunk deeper into the north, east and west façades, for passive climate control.

collage of offices in brick and beam buildings including The Travel Centre, 60 Atlantic, CAPREIT, and Stereo D
In applying a reinvented industrial typology to a commercial application, 80 Atlantic has the specific goal of attracting the cutting-edge TAMI businesses that account for 50% of the local market and exude a creative aesthetic that cuts against corporate conventions. For these firms, the brilliance of the brick and beam typology is that the architecture steps back, giving tenants the flexibility to constantly reinvent, hone, and experiment with new working dynamics and processes. When 80 Atlantic opens later this year it will be primarily tenanted by Universal Music Canada. Their CEO Jeffrey Remedios describes it as a “rockstar building” and envisions it as a culturally significant part of Toronto, a community hub, a destination for artists to collaborate, and central to the company’s mandate of public engagement. In announcing their intent to make 80 Atlantic their HQ, Remedios noted the key interior quality of the building as its “fluid workspace, where collaboration is as natural as conversation.”

80 Atlantic is located at the gateway to Liberty Village, a former industrial neighbourhood that now houses residential and commercial office development. The former Irwin Toy Factory pictured here has been converted into the Toy Factory Lofts.
rendering of office space inside 80 Atlantic showing the exposed wood and floor to ceiling glazing
planks of nail-laminated timber being transported on a forklift

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