Sobeys Reno Preserves Historic Warehouse Features

By Lisa McDonald

With a history dating back to the early 1900s, Sobeys Inc. boasts more than 1,500 stores nationwide. To house the team supporting its new online shopping platform, the food retailer recently renovated three floors of a historically designated 1920s brick-and-beam warehouse in downtown Toronto. The design honours the structure’s original architecture and flooring, while creating a forward-looking, state-of-the-art innovation hub to attract and retain a tech-savvy staff.

Some of the surface-level wear and tear to the warehouse’s original oak wood strip flooring was left untreated as a feature of the overall design. Photo courtesy Doublespace Photography.

To comply with heritage preservation guidelines for the site, the warehouse’s original oak wood strip floors had to be kept — a directive that resonated with Sobeys’ vision for sustainability. Some of the surface-level wear and tear to the oak wood strip flooring was left untreated as a feature of the overall design. But in areas where non-load bearing walls were demolished, it was necessary to patch and repair the flooring to match the usable flooring’s existing condition. Sobeys’ construction manager, Flatiron, sourced and supplied the matching wood.

Sobeys occupies floors two through four of the building. A yoga studio is housed directly below on the ground level. Music and conversation from the studio travelled up and could be heard in Sobeys’ space. To mitigate the noise from below, the building owner installed a layer of acoustic insulation and a new wood strip floor on the second floor. This provides improved acoustic privacy for both Sobeys and the yoga studio.

Modular carpet was installed to lessen acoustic concerns and cover visible hard seams where new and old wood strip floors connect. Photo courtesy Doublespace Photography.

Modular carpet was installed to further lessen acoustic concerns and cover visible hard seams where new and old wood strip floors connect. Shaw Contract‘s Kindred collection in the Belong style was used in these selected areas, adding a layer of functionality and beauty as well as warmth and comfort.

In walk-off areas adjacent to facility entrances and other spaces, such as coat closets where damp boots could be a problem, Tandus Abrasive Action modular carpet tile was applied directly to the wood strip floor. Both the Tandus and Shaw carpeting are NSF 140 compliant at the platinum and gold levels, respectively, have high recycled content, are certified to the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus standard and have achieved Cradle to Cradle silver. These eco-friendly products further support the design’s emphasis on sustainability.

Lisa McDonald is a design professional with more than 25 years of commercial interiors experience, working with major Canadian companies across multiple industries. At IA Interior Architects in Toronto, she currently focuses on workplace strategy, helping clients reimagine the office and future of work. Sobeys’ Innovation Hub garnered IA Interior Architects a 2021 ARIDO award, presented by the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario.

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