Posted in Projects on 21 March, 2023

Art and creativity are surely the bones of Ace’s inaugural home in Canada.

Set in the heart of Toronto’s historic Garment District – a neighbourhood fuelled by innovation and industry at the start of the 20th century – a new building has arisen that echoes the character and materials of the surrounding brick-and-beam factories and warehouses.

As it pays homage to what came before, Ace Hotel Toronto is also attuned to what is yet to come. The building is a civic space, crafted as a home for creative thinkers. Forged from a close, collaboration between Shim-Sutcliffe Architects and Atelier Ace, the building uses materials valued for their strength, integrity and tactility. They evoke a particularly Canadian feeling, marking Ace’s first home in the country.

Ace Hotel Toronto, Canada. Above: Facade and Lobby. Top: Lobby Bar

“The architectural magnificence of Shim-Sutcliffe Architects’ work has created a bona fide wonder. They have built an inherently civic space that respects the neighbourhood’s storied past while nurturing its future,” said Brad Wilson, CEO, Atelier Ace / Ace Hotel Group.

The hotel has 14 above-ground storeys, four basement levels, and a sweeping main entrance with detailing in brick, concrete, copper and wood. Guests enter the lobby catching a glimpse of Horizon Line, a three-storey, site-specific art installation designed by Howard Sutcliffe and assembled by local firm Two Degrees North. The installation is a puzzle of weathered, stained and untreated plywood pieces, mimicking the sparkling waters of Lake Ontario.


The lobby, clad in red oak lining, is hung by slender steel rods from massive concrete structural arches, which carve out the boundaries of the space. It is the heart of the building and meant to be treated as a living room by anyone passing through the hotel doors, with interactive elements, such as a communal worktable and DJ booth decorated in colourful concrete discs from Montréal studio Concrete Cat.

Nestled between the steel-edged concrete arches, the lobby bar takes the form of a wooden tray, hung from the central concrete structure by steel rods. The bar itself, clad in white glazed brick, is positioned within the structure’s larger-than-life steel knuckles. Shim-Sutcliffe created bespoke kite-inspired light forms from opaque plexiglass and wood, which hang directly over the bar. The upper portion of Horizon Line, visible from the bar’s entrance, slowly reveals itself as the observer moves closer to the work.

There is a soulful mix of vintage chairs, lighting and rugs, new rugs manufactured by Odabashian, as well as custom Atelier Ace creations, such as a double-sided sofa and a stool collaboration with Garth Roberts. Small-scale sculptural pieces by artist David Umemoto are scattered throughout the space.

Alder Dining Room

Alder, the hotel’s wood-fired restaurant, functions as a grounding element to the light-spirited lobby. Half-buried in the earth, Alder features warming textural elements including laid-in brick flooring and bush-hammered concrete walls. Consisting of both a triple-height space and a single-height space, set beneath the wood underside of the lobby, the restaurant enjoys a strong shift of scale. Despite its proximity to the lobby bar, Alder’s copper and black wood bar offers a starkly different experience – a darker, moodier, masonry-heavy atmosphere.

Nature served as muse for Ace Toronto’s 123 guestrooms, which are evocative of the comforting pleasures of a wilderness cabin retreat but set within the city. Local materials, such as canvas, wood benches, Douglas fir panelling and flooring, and custom and vintage furnishings help to convey a sense of landscape. Cosy, deep-set window benches present an opportunity to experience the weather while being protected from it.

Guest Room

For the guest suites, Atelier Ace designed copper headboards with fabric inset, desks and worktables, a cream-top bedside table and copper-framed bathroom mirrors, while the cabinetry was a collaborative effort with Shim-Sutcliffe.

Canadian artist Kyle Parent designed a quilt using deadstock fabric and inspired by diverse heritage weaving techniques and textiles. Rooms feature signature Ace guitars and turntables with collections of Canadian vinyl albums curated by Toronto record label Arts & Crafts.

Artists Claudia Gutierrez and Guillermo Trejo created a collaborative work for the guest rooms. They shared 70 pieces of pre-cut canvas in a call-and-response activation. Trejo began by printing on the canvas, using his graphic and bold aesthetic, and Gutierrez then used a dip dye technique to add an element of softness and fluidity to the prints.

Bed frames, desks, worktables and laminated bedside tables were all designed by Atelier Ace and have been brought to life by local artisans.


Shim-Sutcliffe designed a side table specifically for the hotel, which can be found in the guest rooms and at the rooftop bar. Inspired by the hotel’s consistent palette, and the desire to find inventive approaches to traditional materials, the tables combine ready-made clay fireplace pipes of different diameters inside each other and filled with concrete.

Nearly 40 artists – comprising a rich and diverse group of Canadian creators, from established names to students and up-and-comers, each with a different tie to Toronto – contributed works to the project. Poetry, sculpture, painting, collage and more make up the galaxy of curated works. In the lobby lounge are two raw canvas pieces from Cairo-born, Toronto-based mixed media artist Nadia Gohar.

Also in the lobby lounge is a work by fellow Toronto-based artist Erin Vincent, who created furry, spiky tidal movements by embedding thousands of individual nylon brush bristles into a canvas.

For the hotel’s cosiest meeting room, Flow, Ontario-based artist Rod Mireau created a striking three-dimensional sculptural form out of wood with a black finish. Off of Flow stands a small Japanese garden-inspired terrace exhibiting an otherworldly geometric plywood structure by artist Chris Foster. The contrast of the terrace’s natural setting and the alien form of the work strikes a dynamic and thought-provoking relationship.

Three guest rooms contain mobiles by Taiwanese Canadian artist Dennis Lin. They exude a cosmic energy and delicacy, disguising the strength of the materials used and achieving a beautiful, suspended balance.

Topping off this home of creation, the rooftop features both indoor and outdoor lounges and is anchored by two massive brick fireplaces. It features works from Montréal-based artist David

Umemoto, as well as hosting a gallery for rotating shows.

At a glance
Owner/Operator: Ace Hotel Group and Zinc Developments
Architecture and interior design: Shim-Sutcliffe Architects and Atelier Ace
Keys 123






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