Lighting adds to the energy and flair of W Toronto

May 16, 2023
The recent renovation led by Sid Lee Architecture, with lighting by the Ombrages Group, reflects the multicultural city's heritage.

The $40-million makeover of an 11-story, 254-room former Marriott into the W Toronto has created a destination of high-end dining and event spaces that attract both visitors and local patrons. The hotel, located in the Toronto’s Yorkville section, reflects the multicultural city’s diversity, style, and architectural heritage.

Montreal-based Sid Lee Architecture directed the design program for the public spaces and guest rooms. “Connection to the community is an important part of W’s DNA,” says Martin Leblanc, an architect and senior partner at Sid Lee. “The original layout of the building was an integration challenge. Our team’s role was to create an exterior–interior activity connectivity hub.” The local office of the Ombrages Group served as lighting design consultants.

The new identity is communicated by a geometric façade of white rectangular panels, some of which are in relief. At night, cove lighting accentuates the faceted panels and the building elevation. A bright-colored cab zooms through a glowing translucent elevator shaft, which doubles as a beacon for the hotel.

An entrance off Bloor Street takes visitors directly to Public School, the hotel’s contemporary coffeehouse, which becomes a café in the evening. A metal armature that alternates columns of four white globe pendants with living plants forms a showstopping suspended luminaire above an onyx-topped bar with concealed LED strips in its underside and surface.

Guests check in on the sixth level, which also houses W Toronto’s Living Room, a 5,000-square-foot dining space and lounge surrounded by glazed curtain walls. LED strips, CCT 2700K, mount to a semicircular acrylic panel fixture above a 24-seat bar. “Ceiling-hung pin lights surrounding the curve cast a glow onto the surface of the acrylic structure,” says Cedra Samaha, director of design for Larco Hospitality, a hotel management company that W Toronto commissioned. Above the open fireplace area, concealed 2700K LED strips on the underside of the seating and counter cast ambient light. Overhead, Samaha notes, suspended theatrical-style pendants cast a soft glow.

Guest room corridors are illuminated by 3000K LED strips for walls and cove-lit ceilings. The W brand’s Wow and Extreme Wow guest suites include a conversation area illuminated by a grid of overhead light fixtures, comparable to theatrical marquee lights.

W Toronto’s ninth floor hosts the Skylight rooftop bar, a 134-seat restaurant and open-air patio. A rectilinear grid with brise-soleil styled panels creates visual interest above the bar. Individual and clusters of white globe pendants can be adjusted for brightness by an Encelium control system. “LED strips cast a soft glow on the patterned tile bar face,” Samaha says. Wall sconces on angled black supports accent the dining tables below, in the Skylight Den.

Click below to learn in detail the lighting design of two additional hospitality projects:


This article appeared in the Spring/Summer issue of Architectural SSL.

About the Author

Vilma Barr

Vilma Barr is a contributing editor to U.S. and international professional journals and trade periodicals published in the U.S. and internationally in the fields of lighting and the built environment. She has served as author, co-author, and editor of design and business books.

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