Earlier this month, Green Circle Salons moved into our new home in suite 409 of the 401 Richmond landmark, in downtown Toronto.
In recent years this building has been given Heritage Designation, as well as an Award of Merit for the incredible adaptation it's made over the last 17 years.
The central idea of the 401 Richmond is the creation of a sense of community; with regular publications, communal spaces and tenant get-togethers, the building's owners - the Zeidler family - have helped to ensure that this 200,000 square foot structure could not just survive in the age of renovation and demolition, but also thrive. With over 140 entrepreneurs, artists, and organizations offering their own creative potential today, the building is nothing short of magical!
This landmark offers many interesting features:
- Central courtyard and exterior courtyard staircase
- Passenger "observatory" elevator, looking out onto the courtyard
- Visual art installations on each floor - painting, sculpture, print
- "Skywalk" bridge between buildings on the second floor
- Rooftop terrace - Award winning green roof, urban agriculture project, and hanging/carpet plants
- Eco-restoration features - Recycling, Vertical gardens and vines, tree planting
- Animal-friendly office spaces, featuring cats, dogs and budgies
- 12 art galleries, a recording studio, numerous filmmakers, jewellery and fashion designers and architects
A bit about the building's history:
Built in 1899, the former Macdonald Manufacturing Company was known for producing the first and finest lithographs on tinware in all of Canada. Between 1903 and 1923, the building underwent many changes and developments as additions were put on to the north, west, and northeast sides (this gave the building its unusual"A" formation we see today). After being taken over by Continental Can of Canada for 25 years, the building then changed owners for another 25 years before it went bankrupt.
In 1994, the rundown facility was at only 40% capacity, and was heading towards demolition, but it was instead purchased by Margaret Zeidler, who had a vision of simple transformation. As with many older buildings, the restoration crew was able to peel away layers and expose century old brick and beams beneath the old, unusable interiors. In the 17 years since it has changed hands, the building has fostered a name for itself as an indispensable part of Toronto's cultural scene.
Margaret Zeidler (right) speaks with curious visitors inside the 401 Richmond building
On the subject of the philosophy behind the revitalized building, its owners have said this:
"Much of what goes on at 401 Richmond reflects the ideas of renowned urban visionary the late Jane Jacobs. In her book, Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), Jacobs says: “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings; new ideas must use old buildings.” Jacobs also speaks of the need for diversity within a community and at 401 Richmond the vibrant mix of tenants has come to know each other and collaborate on projects. The synergy of tenants and practices supports and fosters both business and creativity. Physical and ideological infrastructures have been put in place: a newsletter, café/gathering place, an arts-enriched early learning centre, community courtyard, and roof garden. All these enhance the commercial, cultural and community activities within these four walls."