Centre For Hospitality And Culinary Arts & The Chefs’ House Restaurant
The George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts & the Chefs’ House Restaurant demonstrate Kearns Mancini Architects’ ability to deliver buildings that delight with natural light, colour, and transparency, representing a brand-statement for our clients. Placing the Chefs along the streetscape – effectively putting the School into the public arena – was the result of a collaborative design process built on consensus. The two buildings’ use of transparency effectively invites the public to engage as an audience to the cookery taking place directly beyond the streetscape.
300 Adelaide St. East & 215 King St. East, Toronto, Ontario
Gross Project Area
90,000 sq. ft.
Jonathan Kearns, Peter Ng, Erika Zaphiratos, Keith Button. Structural: Halsall, M+E: Smith+Andersen, Kitchen Consultant: Cini•Little
International Academy of Design and Health for Mental Health Design | 2009, Toronto Architecture and Urban Design Award – Honorable Mention | 2005, LEED® Gold Certified
Montgomery Sisam Architects, KPMB Architects
The College approached the project with an intent to re-define their Culinary Arts School, aligning the building with a refreshed brand identity. At the time, George Brown College stood as a major urban educational institution without a proper public face. Kearns Mancini responded to George Brown College’s call through the inclusion of natural light, colour and transparency throughout the building, effectively aligning the building with a new brand identity.
The CHCA is a three storey, in-fill addition and interior renovation of the George Brown Chefs’ School on Adelaide Street East. It dramatically opens and transforms a dated building into a showcase for innovation in culinary education. The project enables the college to expand its food and hospitality programs by as much as 50%, to attract and retain the best faculty and students, while augmenting the school’s presence within the city by developing a recognizable campus landmark.
The addition re-houses kitchens, classrooms and ancillary spaces. George Brown’s student chefs are visible in a culinary performance through a two-storey-high glass façade that exposes four kitchen labs to the street. These views into the interiors of the kitchen labs provide the ultimate branding tool for the college. Meanwhile, horizontal strips of coloured glass ensure that the façade provides an interesting counterpoint to the austere visual landscape of predominantly historic masonry buildings along Adelaide Street.
Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts
The Chefs’ House Restaurant
Kearns Mancini is committed to a collaborative process that empowers our clients. To achieve this, all phases of the project are based on a clearly structured, interactive process that fosters consensus-building and rational, sequential, decision-making. Regularly scheduled project meetings, at key milestones in the process, are held to review the work of the team.
Kearns Mancini, in collaboration with the project team, determined that steel work for the central atrium space in the CHCA should be completed during the Christmas holiday period. This allowed work to progress, while students could still access the school through the main foyer. Understanding the school’s schedule, hours of operation and day to day use of each space ensured that the construction team utilized their time in the most efficient manner.
The project required an architectural team capable of handling a highly complex, laboratory-oriented brief. Renovation and addition work in the urban setting meant that space planning was paramount, particularly to accommodate the needs of the faculty. Expanding the capacity by 50% and establishing a new identity and presence for the College was the primary design motivation for the firm, with the intent of giving the CHCA the same stature as the Culinary Institute of America.
The other major portion of the project consists of the Chefs’ House restaurant, which is a signature venue located at 215 King Street East. Renovations to the heritage building, which dates back to 1917, included bringing the restaurant and kitchen down to grade level, with a small prep kitchen and private dining area in the basement. Classrooms are located on the upper floors.
Kearns Mancini responded to George Brown College’s call to re-brand by designing a building that would serve as beacon to the college’s brand identity, showcasing its purpose to the public.
As a result of Kearns Mancini’s rigorous approach to the project, the two buildings delivered on their promise of a bold design statement that supported the College’s new brand strategy.
The Chefs’ House Restaurant was designed to operate as both a hands-on lab for students and as a commercial enterprise. Serving and cooking is carried out by students under the supervision of their instructors. The entire process becomes a synesthetic experience for the public, as the cookery is broadcast onto video screens in the restaurant.
Meanwhile, the exterior of the historic building was restored and adorned with a custom-designed light installation, glass cladding and a glass canopy that help to distinguish the building as a landmark within the neighbourhood. As a result, it acts as a beacon for the culinary theatre taking place within the building. Like the exterior, the interiors of the restaurant offer a fresh interpretation through the melding of old and new. Dark wood floors continue the tradition of lush, rich tones found throughout historical buildings in this area. By contrast, the use of state of the art mechanical systems, with a vibrant material palette showcases an efficient, durable and sustainable design.
The main floor was lowered two feet to grade level, facilitating a direct connection with the streetscape beyond. Reflecting new philosophies within the culinary profession, a large, open-concept kitchen is located at the front of the restaurant. The ceiling was designed to ensure that students would be showcased in their element, improving sightlines across the restaurant, through the inclusion of a custom high-mount ventilated ceiling. The kitchen is fully visible from the exterior through new, 15 foot high windows and the prep counters are abut against these windows. With this method, as the chefs work, they animate the public facade and become the restaurant’s most effective advertisement.
“The intent was to give the CHCA the same stature as the culinary institute of America, but in the heart of an urban centre.”
The most important thing is to get the students excited about the industry and to mentor them... that is why this restaurant is incredibly important, since students get to cook in a proper environment amongst each other, and to really cook for customers. This place is as cool as any restaurant I've seen!
Students, faculty, staff, visitors and industry partners have equally been impressed with the building and the entire student space. The interactive learning environments and the new restaurant at 215 King Street East have become landmark buildings in the community and you have captured the ‘old meets new’ design elements well.
Dean, George Brown College
When you look at the set-up here, I wish I were a student! Honestly, when I went to college, we had nowhere near the kind of set-up they've got here at The Chefs' House. I'm blown away with the standards that are produced here.