In one of the most vibrant urban cities, Toronto, KPMB Architects is a globally celebrated Canadian architecture partnership founded in 1987. In every KPMB project, their designs emphasize the human experience’s quality, both in a physical and cultural context, to create diverse communities and healthy cities and places. Their work is a hybrid type of architecture that vacillates between regional and local identity and global influence. Their objective is collective, focused integrated thought and process in architecture. 

The vibrant work portfolio, because of architecture, interior design, master planning, and workplace strategy, enhances their devotion to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion. KPMB Architects has been designing throughout North America and in industry, community, education, mixed-use, residential, government, and healthcare sectors supplying over 27 million s.f. projects since 2000. 

KPMB has received over 300 awards for architectural excellence. Bruce Kuwabara, Marianne McKenna, and Shirley Blumberg the founding partners, each of them a recipient of the Order of Canada for their significant contribution to culture and society.

KPMB Architects- 15 Iconic Projects - Sheet1
The Brearley School ©Nic Lehoux
KPMB Architects- 15 Iconic Projects - Sheet2
Canary Block Condos ©Michael Muraz
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SugarCube ©Tom Arban

1. Maple Leaf Square, Toronto, Canada

Residential Architecture
Year: 2011

Maple Leaf Square establishes a vibrant and dynamic 24-hour sporting, recreation, and housing community in downtown Toronto. The new structure integrates this neighborhood into a vital city center for activities and recreation. KPMB Architects along with Page + Steele Architects, architects of record made two sleek apartment buildings with a multi-purpose podium offering shopping, recreation, hotel, childcare, and office space incorporated into the design. 

Above the retail base floats a frit glass named ‘wrapper,’ which holds large-scale branding visible from the Gardiner Expressway, distinguishing the podium or base. The glass constantly wraps around the podium, broken occasionally by stone corners to the northwest and southeast. Landscaping was incorporated at the podium roof with courtyards for hotel, daycare, residential uses, and terraces. 

The towers are made of a mixture of precast masonry, wide vision glass expanses, and glazed balconies that are transparent and frosted. In the configuration of the west façade of the south tower and the east façade of the north tower, the diagonal shift of the frit glass from the foundation is reiterated. A series of spectacular views of the city skyline to the north and Lake Ontario to the south has been offered for the towers’ residential units.

Maple Leaf Square, Toronto, Canada - Sheet11
Maple Leaf Square ©Tom Arban
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Maple Leaf Square ©Tom Arban
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Maple Leaf Square ©Tom Arban

2. Kellogg School of Management, Evanston, United States

University Sustainability & Green Design
Year: 2017 

Every feature in the KPMB Architects design of the new Global Hub for Kellogg is inspired by the School’s vision of rehabilitating business as a productive and helpful force for humanity’s good. Located on Lake Michigan’s shore, on the Northwestern campus, and with views of the Chicago skyline immediately to the south. 

The wide, five-story LEED Platinum building is built to maximize versatility, adaptability. In the center, at the Partnership Plaza, a three-story atrium where students, professors and guest leaders meet, all program spaces merge. A two-story piazza, the Faculty Summit shapes the Global Hub’s intellectual soul and provides a forum for faculties to discuss, debate, and seek solutions to the critical matters of the day.

Kellogg School of Management, Evanston, United States - Sheet1
Kellogg School of Management ©Tom Arban
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Kellogg School of Management ©Tom Arban
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Kellogg School of Management ©Tom Arban

3. Minnesota Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, United States

Theaters & performance
Year: 2013 

Orchestra Hall has played a lively role in Minneapolis’s cultural and civic life since its opening in 1974. Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer’s initial concept centered on the auditorium’s experience; the lobby spaces were deemed temporary and were to be demolished after 15 years. KPMB Architects’ broader aim was to contribute within the Twin Cities’ culture to transforming the southern downtown area, harmonizing, Old, and Modern. 

Retaining the concert auditorium as the signature feature of the original 1974 design while re-imagining the lobby and amenity areas was a top priority. Constructed of stone and glass, the additions’ architecture reaffirms Orchestra Hall’s presence as Nicollet Mall’s southern anchor. It is intended to give the Hall inside Peavey Plaza a new focus and re-engage the Hall with its urban context. The new’s crisp contemporary open aesthetic serves as a counterpoint to the original auditorium while recognizing the legacy of the modernist downtown buildings and public spaces in Minneapolis, composed by some of the most powerful designers of the 20th century. 

The expansion incorporates a contextual urban collection of exterior materials, including Alabama Silver Shadow limestone panels with an upper-level honed finish and Mesabi Black honed granite at the foundation. Urban interaction, the modern lobby architecture’s openness, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, reveals the activity inside and captures the Minneapolis skyline’s stunning views and infuses the community with new energy. The impact is to improve Minneapolis’ international reputation as a walkable town and that of the Hall as an open and friendly destination.

Minnesota Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, United States - Sheet1
Minnesota Orchestra Hall ©Nic Lehoux
Minnesota Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, United States - Sheet2
Minnesota Orchestra Hall ©Nic Lehoux
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Minnesota Orchestra Hall ©Nic Lehoux

4. Vaughan City Hall, Vaughan, Canada

Town & City Hall
Year: 2011 

The City of Vaughan was originally a small township on the northern end of Toronto and is one of the fast-growing suburbs. KPMB Architects designed the new Civic Centre as an example of the 21st century’s environmentally conscious design and city landscape. A complex of low-rise buildings describes a community terrain of green space instead of a single structure. It is arranged as per various bands, appealing to both the clarity of Ontario town planning and the rural agrarian landscape’s north-south concession grid. 

The City Hall and Civic Tower hold the arrangement. Terracotta and double- and triple-glazed glass curtain walls are built into the external cladding. For the outdoor landscape and interior floor finishes, Canadian “Kodiak” granite is used. With oak wood panels, exposed concrete, terrazzo and oak floors, and carpet tiles, the interior spaces are built.

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Vaughan City Hall ©Maris Mezulis
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Vaughan City Hall ©Maris Mezulis
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Vaughan City Hall ©Maris Mezulis

5. Fort York Branch Library, Toronto, Canada

Library
Year: 2014 

KPMB Architects were commissioned to design this project at Garrison Creek’s mouth, the house lies on what was once the original forested shoreline of Lake Ontario. The library building is planned to provide pedestrian access to the future park to the north from Fort York Boulevard to the south. The pavilion building’s angular trapezoidal geometry corresponds to the fort’s ramparts. The library’s second floor serves as an outstanding viewing platform for the heritage site, the town, and the bay. 

The functional architecture of the building had to have a high degree of versatility for the potential program created in order to meet the client’s mission and vision to be the social center of the neighborhood – to provide a resource for not only books and CD’s, but also community services, workshops, interactive studios, and study rooms, and to be the first stop for new immigrants. 

There is no public parking on-site to contribute to street entertainment and promote local public transit. 52 percent of the total area is made up of a designated green roof. In the shoulder seasons, the outer fins minimize heat gain, and operable windows allow natural cross-ventilation and passive cooling, and motorized interior blinds regulate direct sunlight and heat gain.

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Fort York Branch Library ©James Brittain
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Fort York Branch Library ©Tom Arban
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Fort York Branch Library ©Maris Mezulis

6. The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada

Museum, Renovation
Year: 2006 

The Gardiner Museum is indeed one of the world’s leading ceramic art institutions and the only museum of its kind in Canada to be named a cultural revival project in Toronto. Together with the Royal Ontario Museum and the Royal Music Conservatory, the renovation project was given to KPMB Architects that will form a new cultural precinct. The redesign is based on the original structure, which was designed in 1984 by Keith Wagland. 

A bolder picture is created by the third-floor extension and extension of the original footprint to the street while maintaining the intimate scale for which the original building was admired. The museum’s front has been fully re-landscaped with a series of terraced platforms that carry the Gardiner to the path and produce a range of welcoming open-air spaces for informal and formal gatherings. The strategic addition of about 14,000 sqm enables the museum to host an international contemporary exhibit.

The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada - Sheet1
The Gardiner Museum ©Tom Arban
The Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada - Sheet2
The Gardiner Museum ©Tom Arban
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The Gardiner Museum ©Tom Arban

7. Riverview House Toronto, Canada

Residential
Year: 2013

Riverview House resided at the edge of one of Toronto’s ravines, and catches the full benefit of its environmental context. The wedge-shaped site placed the house’s mass to the north, and the inheritance of an established foundation permitted the house’s footprint to remain close to the edge of the ravine. KPMB Architects kept the dining room, living room, kitchen, and office all situated on the completely glazed ground floor. 

To build a serene treehouse master suite, the cantilevered second floor extends out beyond the ground floor. This permits the ravine to become the backdrop of the building. With each season, the indigenous ravine landscape changes and shifts from cooling and near ‘green’ privacy in the summer to maximum light with one kilometer of site lines in winter. Nature looks in the space as if it were. The shape is simple, allowing flexible, open living plans that emphasize family and gathering. 

The architecture also represents the dedication of the owner to sustainability. All house roofs are green roofs that exceed the green requirements of Toronto. There is a living roof on the ground floor that houses the garage and front entrance, folding the front lawn up and over the garage to cover it. This makes it possible for the home to recede into its greenery. A permeable membrane driveway made of recycled tires, a floor heating system that absorbs warmth from the fireplace through wall-mounted piping are other sustainable features.

Riverview House Toronto, Canada - Sheet1

Riverview House Toronto, Canada - Sheet2
Riverview House ©Adrien Williams
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Riverview House ©Adrien Williams

8. University of Lethbridge Science Commons, Lethbridge, Canada

University
Year: 2019 

Located in the majestic coulee landscape on the Lethbridge University Campus and next door to the famous University Hall of Arthur Erickson (1971), the project is purpose-built for transdisciplinary research and teaching. A tailor-made integrated design process was important for fostering active dialogue between researchers, teachers, users, and the design team to identify the qualities that should be established. 

KPMB Architects and Stantec Architecture design program incorporates open research and teaching laboratories, common collaborative spaces, shared equipment, and facilities that form an agile, scalable structure. The project would outperform the 50 percent baseline typology of traditional laboratory buildings by capitalizing on passive energy from this unique environment, with a planned 78 percent reduction in energy usage for support spaces and 60 percent for laboratory spaces. 

As a counterpoint to Erickson’s strong monumentality, the low horizontal Shape sits softly on the landscape and is highly transparent. The Oldman River Valley is overlooked by generously sized meeting areas, linking users to the prairie landscape and enhancing the building as a place to explore the mystery and interconnectivity of humanity, nature, and the cosmos.

University of Lethbridge Science Commons, Lethbridge, Canada - Sheet1
University of Lethbridge Science Commons ©Nic Lehoux
University of Lethbridge Science Commons, Lethbridge, Canada - Sheet2
University of Lethbridge Science Commons ©Adrien Williams 
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University of Lethbridge Science Commons ©Nic Lehoux

9. Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, Waterloo, Canada

University
Year: 2012 

The massing strategy KPMB Architects incorporates two volumes connected by a common six-story central atrium with two main entrances to provide the IQC and nanotechnology engineering. Each one has its own distinct identity within the whole: one on the ring road to support IQC and the other on the campus side for nanotechnology engineering. 

To capture spontaneous thoughts, a series of back-painted glass whiteboards reflect light and provide writing surfaces. The atrium also offers a sheltered pedestrian path and informal meeting area. Advanced structural, mechanical, and electrical structures were used to achieve an atmosphere with low vibration, low electromagnetic interference (EMI), and limited radio frequency interference. Laboratory spaces were concentrated below grade, where these effects are reduced.

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Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre ©Double Space Photography
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Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre ©James Brittain
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Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre ©James Brittain

10. Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States

Education, Heritage
Year: 2017

KPMB Architects realizes the University Master Plan’s vision of establishing a social science hub and turning the massive, monolithic building into a porous, transparent, and welcoming atmosphere for learning and study. The building is situated in the campus’ north-east district. It occupies a prominent location on Scudder Plaza, east of Washington Road, where the historic west campus meets the more contemporary east campus. 

As part of the landscape design, the campus pedestrian pathway scheme was expanded into this precinct. In addition, the Simpson Building is directly connected to Scudder Plaza by a new southern atrium and bridge entrance. The landscape of Beatrix Farrand has been restored in Washington. Road and forms the entrance court to the JRR Building. The heritage façade is complemented by modern glazed rooftop pavilions, which provide flexible conference and seminar rooms with impressive views of the West’s historic campus.

Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States - Sheet1
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building ©Adrien Williams
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States - Sheet2
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building © Adrien Williams
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building, Princeton University, New Jersey, United States - Sheet3
Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building & Louis A. Simpson International Building ©Adrien Williams

11. Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower), Toronto, Canada

Office, Towers
Year: 2015

In Toronto’s developing Southcore Financial District, SFC is a major mixed-use sustainable growth that contains three towers. KPMB Architects designed both PwC tower and Bremner Tower. The design responds to the City of Toronto’s district planning strategy to create new financial district opportunities and enhance density combining commercial and corporate uses. At street level, all the buildings are unified with an integrated three-story podium. 

The podium roof incorporates a publicly accessible urban forest planted with indigenous species as a boreal environment. With adjacent changing rooms and toilets, both towers have 3 levels of below-grade parking and bicycle storage. Retail facilities include the floor and second levels of the podium. LEED SC Gold certified, the buildings emphasize state-of-the-art operating and life safety systems that include improved indoor air quality, a rainwater collection system, 18 ” raised floor, and deep lake central cooling supplemented by a thermal storage system from Enwave.

Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower), Toronto, Canada - Sheet1
Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower) ©Tom Arban
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Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower) ©Tom Arban
Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower), Toronto, Canada - Sheet3
Southcore Financial Centre (Bremner Tower and PwC Tower) ©Tom Arban

12. Library District Condominiums, Toronto, Canada

Mixed-Use, Residential, Tower
Year: 2014

A 29-storey glass tower and a 3-storey amenity pavilion consisting of 364 condominium units and below-grade parking comprise the Library District Condominiums that KPMB Architects designed in association with Page + Steele / IBI Group. The battlements and historic buildings of Old Fort York are situated along Fort York Boulevard, directly to the west of the condo. 

The inspiration of the project, which was articulated as a freestanding pavilion to provide reasonable public access to  Fort York and Future Park, was inspired by the site’s unique nature. The fortress’s ramparts’ geometry influences the formal expression of the condo and its associated library.

 To optimize economies, the residential tower’s unit planning is very logical and extremely repetitive, but expressive in its unique use of colored spandrels of glass within the construction of window walls and distinguishing angled roof styles that draw motivation from its park environment. The shades of colored spandrel and clear glass also help to link the building to the background and the lake of its park. 

Library District Condominiums, Toronto, Canada - Sheet1
Library District Condominiums ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis
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Library District Condominiums ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis
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Library District Condominiums ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis

13. 150 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto Community Housing Corporation Toronto, Canada

Mixed-Use, Residential, Tower
Year: 2012 

Toronto Community Housing (TCH) is Canada’s largest affordable housing provider. This project was planned and built to address a need for affordable rental housing focused on the family. A group home for low-income families that would promote a sense of real community, not a traditional residential house, was the design objective of KPMB Architects design architects; Page + Steele/IBI Group Architects, architects of record. A total of 427 units are supported by the 41- storey tower and the ten-eleven-story podium. 

In a creative skip-stop section, three and four-bedroom units are planned, minimizing internal access corridors, and optimizing play/study space inside the family units. The park is also addressed by a community multi-purpose space on the second floor and a public kitchen, playrooms. Moreover, day-lit laundry facilities line the landscaped courtyard that occupies the podium roof – the community’s common outdoor living room. The roof of the podium’s west portion contains planter boxes for the residents’ urban gardening.

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150 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto Community Housing ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis
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150 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto Community Housing ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis
150 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto Community Housing Corporation Toronto, Canada - Sheet
150 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto Community Housing ©James Brittain, Maris Mezulis

14. Remai Modern, Saskatchewan, Canada

Culture, Interiors, Museum / Gallery
Year: 2017

The design and massing of KPMB Architects with prime consultant Architecture49 react to the low, even topography of Saskatchewan’s plain landscape and evoke the low-rise, rectilinear huts, and barns of regional agrarian customs and traditions. 2nd Avenue to the east and the River Edge to the south are connected by four cantilevered, horizontal volumes. The south elevation extends the site’s length, and the ground floor is completely glazed to provide access to the river for continuous day-lit public spaces. 

At either end, entrances merge the gallery into the current pedestrian flows along the river bank. To optimize the relation to the river, public spaces are organized on every level. The plan is unified by a central atrium and provides a group meeting area. The copper-colored metal screen was used for the exterior, influenced by the Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon’s historic architectural landmark.

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Remai Modern ©Tom Arban, Nic Lehoux, Adrien Williams
Remai Modern, Saskatchewan, Canada - Sheet2
Remai Modern ©Tom Arban, Nic Lehoux, Adrien Williams
Remai Modern, Saskatchewan, Canada - Sheet3
Remai Modern ©Tom Arban, Nic Lehoux, Adrien Williams  

15. Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center & Arthur Miller Theatre, University of Michigan, Michigan, United States

Education
Year: 2007

KPMB Architects designed two interconnected structures that address the project requirements: the broad, eloquently proportioned ‘learning loft’ and a cubic glass volume housing the 250-seat black box theater. The theatre defines the entrance to the North Campus of the university. Shrouded in a see-through glass envelope, the exterior excites the theater’s transformative impressions – it is the elegant volume by day and seductive glass beacon by night. 

The exterior actors’ terrace is characterized by a concrete column portico, with wooden seating within the columns to promote gathering discussion and communication. The learning loft comprises three versatile 150-seat performance or learning studios, extending east from the theater, ground-level production space, and a full scene shop. A glass hallway links the studios and offers a view from which it is possible to see theatre students training. Overlooking the theatre lobby, the second floor houses the university administration offices.

Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center & Arthur Miller Theatre, University of Michigan, Michigan, United States - Sheet1
Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center & Arthur Miller Theatre, University of Michigan ©Tom Arban
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Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center & Arthur Miller Theatre, University of Michigan ©Tom Arban
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Charles R. Walgreen, Jr. Drama Center & Arthur Miller Theatre, University of Michigan ©Tom Arban
Tamrin Afroz
Author

Tamrin Afroz is an architecture student who loves traveling, painting, journaling, and experimenting with new ideas. She aspires to uphold local culture, tradition, and craftsmanship within the community, to conserve tangible and intangible heritage. Apart from architecture, she is an activist working on social issues and promoting girls' leadership roles.

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