Bob Mitchell’s Lofts
A Toronto Pioneer in Loft Conversions
Mitchell & Associates is a design/build firm that has been creating new loft conversions in the City of Toronto for the past twenty six years. In 1982 they designed, developed and built the first legal loft conversion in Toronto at 41 Shanly Street, previously the Dominion Felt Company, and won the Ontario Renews Award in 1984 for that project for excellence and innovation in design. Since then, Mitchell and Associates, through subsidiary project specific companies, has converted numerous factories, churches, and institutional buildings into high quality hard lofts.
The principal of Mitchell and Associates, Robert Mitchell, holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Civil Engineering, and a Master of Science degree in Urban and Regional Planning. He is a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, and the Canadian Institute of Planners, and has over twenty years hands-on experience in all aspects of the retrofitting and conversion of buildings into lofts.
Within the context of built form, the two primary defining characteristics are spatial volume and light. Working with existing non-residential structures (factories, churches, schools, etc.) the potential exists to create astonishing living environments. Large volumes of space, high ceilings, long clear spans, and visible structural elements are common denominators for industrial and institutional space. Articulating and subdividing space within the building envelope is an holistic design process involving the existing structure, its external environment, planning and code constraints, and the end user, a random variable in every equation, bringing different values, goals and ideas to the table and resulting in an evolutionary design process with consistently unique results.
Maximize space and light. Work with and not against existing structure. Be aware of the surrounding environment. Ask the right questions. Listen to the answers. Consider colouring outside the lines.
41 Shanly Street
Originally constructed as the Dominion Felt Works, this ugly industrial building was transformed in 1981 into 10 two and three storey loft units. Mitchell and Associates won the Ontario Renews Award in 1984 for this innovative conversion of a non-residential to a residential building, the first legal residential loft conversion project in Toronto.
289 Sumach Street
Originally constructed in 1898 as the Ontario Medical College for Women, this historically significant and now designated Romanesque Revival building had fallen on hard times by the early 80’s, enduring a series of industrial uses, most recently as a machine shop. Purchased in 1983, the facades were restored according to 1898 photographs from a medical calendar discovered behind the original baseboards, and the interiors were transformed into ten multi-storey hard loft residences, internally maintaining elements of both its historical and industrial precedents.
The Oxford Lofts are located at 75 Markham Street in Toronto, and originally housing the Oxford Picture Frame Factory (which had recently relocated from Oxford Street) this outdated industrial anomoly was converted in 1986 into 16 multi-level lofts, retaining many of the original heavy timber and brick details from its previous use. Remember Anne Margaret’s fabulous ‘Manhattan’ loft space in the movie “The Four Seasons”?
Located at 110 Hepbourne Street, Toronto, the Hepbourne Hall Lofts were originally constructed as a collegiate gothic style extension to the Dovercourt-St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church. Conn Smythe was a Church elder and taught Sunday school there. As a sidebar, the building’s gym was also used by the 1940’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an off season training facility. Several units in this twenty-one unit 1990 loft conversion have the original gym maple flooring (cleaned, sanded and relaid) installed in their living spaces.
The Claremont Hall Lofts are situated at 34 Claremont Street, originally constructed in 1950 as a secular extension to the St. Cyril and Methodius Roman Catholic Episcopal Church, this very solid masonry structure was converted into 13 hard lofts in 1995. The adjoining Church and manse were severed and developed as three additional and very large freehold custom loft spaces. The property also included a land parcel to the south, allowing the ground floor units to walk out to large private gardens at grade.
676 Richmond Street West
Located in the heart of the vibrant Queen Street West area, in Toronto, this nineteen unit loft conversion of a garment factory, completed in 1996, retained and exposed major structural steel elements of the original building. Units in the Industrial Revolution Lofts are two and three storey layouts, most with private gardens or roof terraces. Oversized window arrays were cut through the south elevation, and a new architectural facade was created to unify the “growth by accretion” effect of the original industrial building and subsequent extensions.
670 Richmond Street
Originally constructed in 1950 for Decca records, and most recently used as a garment factory, this building was converted into the Industrial Revolution II Lofts – with 12 residential two and three storey lofts – in 1997. Existing window openings were enlarged and the reclaimed brick from this was used to extend the building parapet to conceal private roof gardens. Redeveloped immediately after the successful loft project at 676 Richmond Street West (next door), 670 sold out on referrals before the first ad.
Printers Row in Toronto is a loft conversion of an existing vintage architectural gem originally designed by W.F. Carmichael, Architect, in 1911 for the Bell Telephone Company world headquarters, and most recently used in the printing trade as ABSO Blueprints. The present loft conversion created a row of six double stacked two and three storey loft spaces, all facing south and all opening out into private roof gardens or terraces. Retained features of the massively overdesigned original structure include 18″ thick terracotta and concrete floors acoustically separating units.
The Glebe is a fabulous loft conversion of the architecturally magnificent Riverdale Presbyterian Church, located at 660 Pape Avenue, in prime Riverdale and just steps from the subway. Very rarely does an opportunity come along to live in history. Designed by renowned period architect J. Wilson Gray, originally constructed for the trustees of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, this imposing architectural building was retrofitted, entirely within the existing envelope, into only 32 astonishing multi-level loft residences. Erected in 1920 as an extension to the original 1912 Riverdale Presbyterian Church, this loft conversion pays homage to the soaring height of the original sanctuary in all of its two storey primary living spaces, featuring large open plans, expansive interconnected to flow with the building space.
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