UrbanToronto’s exclusive tour of The Well continues. Following part one of our tour yesterday, we are diving into the complex's retail and office spaces, revealing a paradigm shift in commercial and professional environments. This sprawling complex, an endeavour by RioCan REIT and Allied Properties REIT, in partnership with Tridel and Woodbourne Canada Management, Inc., is not just redefining Downtown Toronto's west side but also aims to broaden the experience of living in the city.
Diverse Retail Concepts
The Well will boast many restaurants and stores once it's fully opened — and even an environmentally-angled, multi-sensory attraction called Arcadia Earth that we previewed in October and which opens on December 1 — but there are already several open, and Prince St. Pizza in particular has been attracting lineups of people eager to try a particular take on New York-style pizza.
We took a look at just a few of the retailers now open…
…like Indigo. This location represents a reimagining of the bookstore experience that Indigo is known for, offering more flexible and interactive spaces in this 50,000 ft² store. Included here is a Propeller Coffee truck parked in the front window, beckoning people in to enjoy some java as they shop.
Intuit similarly plans to feature vendor carts for small, independent retailers when their space opens. Meanwhile, Blue Banana Market, known for its eclectic range of gifts and novelties, provides shoppers with a treasure trove of unique finds.
Shoppers Drug Mart offers convenience for those seeking pharmacy services, health products, and everyday essentials.
Yesterday we got a peek at ongoing work in the Wellington Market section of the complex, where 70,000 ft² dedicated to food — to eat in or take home — is targeted to open in March, 2024. Adjacent to it, Health One will be a space dedicated to medical and wellness services, part of The Well's holistic approach to community health, offering residents and visitors convenient access to healthcare services within the complex.
Wellness is important for pets too, so innovative spaces like Puppy Sphere, offers unique experiences for them. Similarly, Promise Supply, operating as a temporary unit, is set up as a Christmas tree market, bringing a touch of festive charm to The Well.
Heading into the Offices
As we entered the office spaces, The Well’s General Manager, Anthony Casalanguida, shared insights into how, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, The Well successfully attracted a diverse array of tenants. That period saw companies from various sectors, including legal, architectural, and technological firms, seizing the opportunity to relocate and reinvent their workspaces, the majority of which leased during COVID-19. Notably, many of these firms migrated from areas like Mississauga, drawn by the allure of The Well's innovative work environment and its promise of post-COVID opportunities.
Journalism Past and Present
The Well has been built on the land where the Globe and Mail Building previously stood. That newspaper has since moved east along King Street, but their former front doors — first brought here from an even earlier location — were left onsite, and are now mounted in the lobby area of the 8 Spadina office tower, serving as a tangible connection to the site's rich publishing heritage (The Telegram was here before the Globe). In the latest such twist, newspaper publishing still flourishes here at The Well as The Toronto Star has moved into it themselves.
Adapting Architectural Features for a Modern Workforce
The architectural design of the office building by Hariri Pontarini Architects significantly contributed to this leasing success. The Well offers a range of floor plans, with larger floor plates on the lower levels and smaller ones higher up, catering to different business sizes and types. This design strategy ensures a diverse tenant mix, creating a dynamic professional ecosystem within the complex.
The office spaces feature a clean aesthetic, characterized by an 18-inch gap between the concrete slab and the finished floor one walks on (providing lots of underfloor space for ducting and cabling), concrete ceilings, and a design that maximizes natural sunlight. These features not only enhance the visual appeal but also contribute to creating a healthier and more productive work environment. The inclusion of notable tenants like Dyson, Warner Music, and Netflix underscores the attractiveness of The Well as a premier business location in downtown Toronto.
BDP Quadrangle's Office: A Modern Workspace
Sami Kazemi, a Principal at BDP Quadrangle, guided us through the BDP Q offices on the 20th and 21st floors. The architectural firm, known for its cutting-edge design and urbanism practices, has outfitted their workspace in a way that embodies the spirit of modern collaboration.
Features like 'pop desking', which allows employees to choose different workstations rather than being confined to one, is particularly notable. This approach not only encourages a dynamic work environment but also reflects the evolving nature of workplace culture in the post-COVID era.
The office's design also integrates several communal spaces of different sizes and various furnishings for teamwork, showcasing the firm's commitment to a collaborative and inclusive work atmosphere.
The architectural features of BDP Quadrangle’s office are a reflection of the firm's expertise in creating functional yet aesthetically pleasing spaces, while one of the most striking aspects of the space is the abundance of natural light and expansive views.
The collaborative spaces include a unique area called the Back Alley with distinctive carpeting and lighting. The lighting fixtures, which integrate BDP Quadrangle’s drawings, add a personalized touch, infusing the firm’s identity into every aspect of the space.
Moving to the lower level of the BDP Q office, we observe a less finished but equally intriguing area. This space houses a kitchen and an area dedicated to design materials and samples, illustrating the firm's hands-on approach to architecture and design. A notable shift in BDP Quadrangle’s work practices, from physical model-making to more virtual meetings and client interactions, is evident, indicating a modern and adaptive approach to the evolving demands of the industry.
A personal touch is on display with a world map featuring coloured dots pointing out where every employee and their parents were born. This adds to the sense of community and diversity reflected in the office and The Well as a whole.
The new office at The Well, compared to BDP Quadrangle's previous, more segmented three-floor office at 901 King Street West, at Strachan Avenue, presents a more interconnected and unified workspace. This change reflects the firm’s vision of a “new way of working,” embracing openness, connectivity, and innovation.
The office offers panoramic vistas of Toronto's skyline, including The Well's own canopy, nearby landmarks such as the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, and the KING Toronto development currently under construction. In the distance, one can also see the rising supertall The One at 1 Bloor Street West. These views not only provide a visual connection to the city but also serve as a source of inspiration for the team.
Keep an eye out for our continuing coverage of the The Well as more of its offerings open up in 2024. Until then, you can learn more about project from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.
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