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Ace Hotel Toronto

Shim-Sutcliffe Architects

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

August 2022


Brigitte Shim (Architect), Howard Sutcliffe (Architect)


Narsi Naghikhani (Project Architect), Blaine Lepp (Project Architect), Zak Glennon (Project Team), Design Workshop Architects (Project Team)


Alterra Development (Primary), B-right, Finer Space Corporation, ProWinko, Zinc Developments


Scott Norsworthy, Younes Bounhar, William Jess Laird


The civic space of the Ace Hotel Toronto is defined by a rhythmic series of soaring, poured-in-place, steel-edged concrete structural arches rise from below grade to a level above. Each frame terminates with an oversize industrial steel “knuckle” that transfers the load from the hotel rooms above to the foundations below. Initially set in wood forms, the concrete features the appearance of textural wood grain, mixing and matching material and pattern playfully. Nestled between the steel-edged concrete arches, the hotel lobby is a wooden tray, hung from the central concrete structure by a series of slender steel rods. Intended to feel as if it were slipped into an existing structure, blurring the sensation of time, the lobby’s suspension creates lightness within the massive and muscular space. Shim-Sutcliffe created their own kite-inspired lights formed from opaque plexiglass and wood, which hang directly over the lobby bar and gently illuminate the space with a lantern-like glow. Tie rod-supported stairs descend from the lobby into the sunken restaurant. The movement of visitors in front of the piece creates a synergistic relationship between the two – inviting guests into the work, whether they’re aware of it or not. The open kitchen, and dining room at the lower level are crafted from earthen materials to echo the rustic yet refined nature of the restaurant dining room space. The 14th floor rooftop bar features both indoor and outdoor lounges and is anchored by two massive brick fireplaces. At the northern and southern ends of the space with integrated art works.


Ace Hotel Toronto is set in the heart of Toronto’s historic Garment District – a neighbourhood fueled by innovation and industry at the start of the 20th century. The building’s character recalls the robustness of the brick-and-beam factories and warehouses that once dominated this neighborhood. The building is a civic space, crafted as a home for creative thinkers from near and far, and represents a long-term investment in the city it serves. The building utilizes materials valued for their intrinsic strength, integrity, and tactility, employing the simple and functional to craft something spectacular. The material choices also evoke a particularly Canadian feeling, marking Ace’s first home in the country. Although a new building, the design of Ace Hotel Toronto captures a layered sense of time to feel effortlessly at home among its surroundings.
At the meeting of Camden and Brant Streets, across from St. Andrew’s Playground Park – a small but significant downtown green space – Ace Hotel Toronto is set in what was once the city’s vital Garment District. Red brick is Toronto’s material, and Ace Hotel Toronto’s red clay facade recalls the important role bricks played in forming the city’s visual identity. A statement of resistance against recent thin and glassy developments in the area, Ace Hotel Toronto’s symbolic brick facade reaches back in time to pay homage to the strength and durability of these bygone buildings, allowing the structure to feel a part of its context and engage in a larger conversation.


We have designed a long lasting and enduring building carefully selecting durable materials inside and out chosen to minimize replacement over the building’s very long service life. The hotel as a building type is occupied 365 days a year and subject to a great deal of use in the guest rooms and hospitality areas. We prioritize a passive approach to energy with minimized energy use by using high thermal resistance building assemblies, internally connected thermal mass and carefully determined fenestration. This approach is clearly reflected in the facade design where we have selected red brick as the exterior cladding, limited the wall-to-window ratio to 31.3%. The building’s west, north and south elevations have glazing optimized for daylight and view, and the east elevation is a party wall with no openings. Operable windows in all hotel guest rooms encourage both passive ventilation and a controllable connection with the environment. The wall depth allows for R-35.2 thermal insulation and provides self-shading of the U-0.4 glazing system. All of these strategies increase the long-term resilience of the building. This urban building meets the Toronto Green Standard and was designed to use less energy than ASHRE 90.1-2010. Active systems are optimized well: high efficiency heating and domestic hot water boilers are used along with a direct outdoor ventilation system with 70% heat recovery providing high but efficient air flow to the guest rooms and low flow fixture contribution to the hot water systems design.

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