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Ahead of the Curve

DIALOG has been an integral part of CF Sherway Garden’s growth since 2010. As project architect our work includes the north expansion with Gourmet Fare and 1,200 car parking garage; Holt Renfrew reconfiguration; the existing mall public space renovation and south retail renovation (iconic tent conversion to retail units); the east renovations, complete with new shell space for Saks Fifth Avenue and Sport Chek, and 600 car parking garage; and the south expansion, complete with a 500 car parking garage and suspended slab pad for Nordstrom. Concurrently, we are developing a long-term master plan and vision for CF Sherway’s next 50 years.

Etobicoke, Ontario

Suburban to Urban

Constructed in the 1970s at the intersection of two major highways, CF Sherway Gardens was originally a mall in a sea of suburban parking lot. The expected experience was to drive, park, shop, and leave. The exterior of the shopping centre did not engage with the surrounding community and it had no pedestrian appeal. Even though the mall was an impenetrable fortress on the outside, inside it was a very well-used, well-loved mall. Even so, its loyal customers deserved a better experience. When the Queensway became a Designated Avenue and development intensified in the surrounding neighbourhood, the context changed from suburban to urban. This meant CF Sherway Gardens had to change too. Local consumers had much more choice in shopping experiences; from local competition, to online shopping. CF Sherway Gardens needed to respond to the changes in its own neighbourhood and knew they had to offer more than just shopping. The redeveloped shopping centre experience needed to engage shoppers in an urban experience.

Engaging the Public Realm

A crucial component of elevating the customer experience was engaging the public realm. This involved creating a public face to the exterior of the shopping centre, with places to gather and interact with the shopping centre without even having to enter the interior spaces. One of the first big changes was to relocate the existing food court from under its iconic tent structure to a new windowed location on the second floor of the north expansion, facing the Queensway. This was a deliberate decision to animate the shopping centre towards the street (it was also practical because the new food court could be built without decommissioning other food court). Huge windows bring the program within to the viewer outside; and people inside can see out to Queensway Avenue. Everyone is connected. This design responds to the needs of its urbanized environment to engage with the surrounding community. Surface parking is reduced, and the building juts out toward the street. Some of the retailers now have exterior entrances that pedestrianize the shopping centre perimeter – now a retail street itself. Landscaping and walkable areas make circulating the outside of CF Sherway Gardens a more pleasurable experience. An important part of engaging with the public realm is the sense of arrival created by the Main Entrance. This feeling is carried inside where all design decisions were made with the goal of making the customer feel right at home.

Creating a Sense of Place

Consumers today want their retail centres to be somewhere to have experiences, not just shop. So, every design decision at CF Sherway Gardens has been driven by the goal of creating heightened shopping moments. This begins as soon as people enter through the north expansion’s main entrance. Visitors are welcomed into 2 story curving atrium space offering maximum sunlight exposure. The proportion of the atrium space is impressive. This spectacular feature brings retail design to the forefront of the expansion; allowing for larger-than-normal double-height storefront presentations, exposure to natural sunlight, and the feeling of walking along an outdoor promenade. The result is swanky, but still accessible – it gives browsers permission to window shop. You don’t need to be spending gobs of money to belong in the space. The disappearing curve of the extension’s hallway continuously reveals new retail as you’re walking. This allows for an unfolding of the shopping experience. Interactions with the space are active and always changing – It’s an exciting place to walk! Perched above the shopping street, the Gourmet Fare dining hall provides 900 seats, and high ceilings with maximum sunlight exposure from the large windows overlooking Queensway Avenue. The space offers an opportunity to dine and shop and provides a great people-watching perch above action. All of these elements combine to create a destination that is so much more than a mall. CF Sherway Gardens is a place to shop, eat, experience, and linger.

Project facts

Client: Cadillac Fairview
Services: Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Planning, Structural Engineering
Cost: $300+ M
Completion: Ongoing
Size: 32,516 sq m / 350,000 sq ft

Achievements & Awards

ICSC Silver Medal - Renovations and Expansions (1,000,000+ sq. ft. of total retail space)