2 Fraser Avenue

View of second-floor tenant space at the south end of the building | Photo: Alex Willms

Project Overview

Situated in Liberty Village, Toronto, the site is an entire block of buildings within a former industrial area. Like others close to the city centre, this district is rapidly leaving its industrial past behind and becoming a centre of new development for creative-industry tenants.


Status:  Complete
Type: Adaptive reuse - commerical
Location: Toronto, Canada
Area: 11,500 m2
Architect of Record: Philip Beesley Architect
Project Architect: Rolf Seifert Architect

The clients, who own a large portion of the developable lands and buildings in the area, staged an architectural competition for the adaptive reuse of this group of industrial buildings. Built between 1900 and 1976 and most recently used for the large-scale production of bread, these buildings were now slated for film post-production and digital media tenants. Rolf Seifert Architect with Philip Beesley Architect Inc. emerged as winners in 2014. Construction began shortly thereafter.

View of interior public street seen from second-level gangway | Photo: Alex Willms

Basket-like structures made of solid 6cm water-cut steel are welded to existing beams

Green roofs surrounding the roof terrace

Car and bicycle parking areas are separated by planting beds

Urban Strategy

A larger vision for this portion of Liberty Village evolved in parallel with the schematic design of the 2 Fraser block. A new pedestrian pathway, to be named South Liberty Trail, connects the nearby commuter train station and Exhibition grounds to Dufferin Street, passing through the interior street shown here, as well as existing mews and laneways. Grain silos from the bread factory have been relocated and painted with commissioned artworks to function as wayfinding devices.

Site Plan

Mural art pieces were commissioned for silos and hoppers salvaged from the bread factory


The two-storey building, with a total floor area of 11,500 m2 including additions, was designed to comply with the requirements of the City of Toronto Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology financial incentive program. It also conforms to the Toronto Green Standards, including green roofs, cool roofs, and generous landscaping. 400 m2 of roof terraces and exterior decks are designed as tenant amenities. The exterior, once an asphalt wasteland, is now punctuated by new landscaped areas that define smaller parking zones for cars and bicycles.

Before photo: Michel Caron | After photo: Alex Willms

The building has been highly successful. With their unique spatial qualities and industrial character, the large floor plates of over 5,000 m2 attracted tenants quickly. The building was fully leased well prior to completion and now houses three tenants totalling about 1,000 employees. The project, which also includes a restaurant, has been significant in triggering further development of this portion of Liberty Village.

East Elevation


Rather than fully restoring the building to its original state, a deliberate attempt was made to retain the industrial patina that had accumulated over decades. In many places the flaking plaster and crumbling brick were simply consolidated to prevent further degradation. The resulting imperfections and historical layers contrast with the precision of new steel construction, giving the spaces a surprising richness and complexity. This also allowed for a very cost-efficient construction.

Entrance canopy and handrail detail | Photos: Alex Willms

Several of the design’s distinguishing features are integrated in the new two-storey interior pedestrian street. This cuts through the entire block, linking public roads on either side of the building and serving as the building’s primary internal circulation. To create this space, the existing roof was redesigned and raised, and a gangway added to the new upper level. The exterior wall running along this gangway was constructed using garage doors, which open onto a generous roof terrace. The demising walls to tenant suites on the ground floor were also constructed using garage doors. These can be opened to the interior street, creating one large area that is useful during events, exhibitions, and gatherings where office space spills into public space. This flexible arrangement can be seen as a new office archetype.

Construction photos: Michel Caron

Copyright Rolf Seifert Architect 2019
Toronto, Canada | (416) 583-1589