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Ace Hotel

Palazzo, Cabin, Grand Urban Room

Shim-Sutcliffe Architects

Ace Hotel
By Raymund Ryan -

Astute Torontonians have for some years tracked the bespoke output of Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe. Their practice Shim-Sutcliffe Architects is one of the most influential in Canada and admired, from near and far, for the poetic integration of materials, light, structure, and site. Until now, however, comparatively little of Shim-Sutcliffe’s work has impinged on the public realm. Any impression of reserve is now significantly countered by the architects’ Ace Hotel, a rarefied contribution to the built fabric of downtown Toronto as the Canadian metropolis undergoes unprecedented – and, in terms of quality, variable – growth.

The Ace is a palazzo, a building with both esthetic ideals and a tuned sense of pragmatics, amid the thin-skinned and frequently interchangeable high-rises rising in Toronto as in so many centers of international capital. It occupies a corner site at the intersection of Brant and Camden Streets and overlooks a small park known as St. Andrew’s Playground. Unlike many projects by Shim-Sutcliffe, which tend to stretch horizontally to reinforce their sites, the vertical massing of the new Ace allows for a cubic façade of glazed apertures facing across the park and for an impressively articulate corner entrance – a social node in the evolving city.

The Ace group began in the Pacific Northwest two decades ago with the remodeling of a former mariners’ boarding house in Seattle and an old hotel in Portland, Oregon. This model of inventive renovation, tapping into local character, was repeated in Palm Springs, Downtown L.A., London’s East End, and Lower Manhattan. Now the Ace is occupying architect-designed structures for the first time. Kengo Kuma is the architect for Ace Hotel Kyoto. For the first Canadian Ace, Shim-Sutcliffe have worked with Atelier Ace, the in-house designers, to realize a total design. This is the boutique hotel from urban planning to elevator...

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