Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada
Landini Associates

We were briefed to create the "world’s best food store" in a landmark downtown location that was once the iconic home of the beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. Our scope included all interior design, graphics, in store communications, packaging and uniforms.

Maple Leaf Gardens (MLG) is an urban location surrounded by multiple inner city units but with very few public places where the community can engage with each other. Historically it has always been a place of entertainment, hosting major sporting, political and cultural events, from the beloved Maple Leaf hockey team and Muhammad Ali to political rallies and music such as the Beatles and Frank Sinatra. We wanted to continue this. 

Whilst the initial intention was to create a model store that could be replicated elsewhere, the building itself was redolent with a history that informed our work in equal parts through its scale, massive brutality and social history. As such we decided that it was important to not just create a supermarket but rather a "Super" "Market", a social place not unlike a Market Town of old which was a community's hub; a place where people could meet, eat and fall in love. 

The ground floor at Maple Leaf Gardens now consists of 4000 sq m of fresh food, multiple eating places and the theatre of visible production facilities, delivering a place to experiment and learn.  

We chose to celebrate the buildings history through an integrated design approach (rather than segregating past stories in a corner) and achieved this by making these specifications a dynamic part of the overall design - exposing the “ghosts” of walls past, commissioning a 12m x 12m sculpture of old stadium chairs, reusing other chairs in a café, reusing stadium lighting, reinstating old murals and marking centre court by Isle 24. We also celebrated the various sporting, cultural and political events both under the canteen tables and on columns within the body of the supermarket. We utilized the visual scale and brutality of the building combined with a very urban palette of materials to create theatre, energy and colour. 

The resulting visual environment is very distinctive, differing from the bland generic of most North American supermarkets. Not only has our design delivered a new genre in food retailing but more importantly it has become a social hub, a place of and for the community, adding a richness to that part of the city whilst also honoring and celebrating the building’s past. Above all else, MLG is still designed to make the food and the people making the food the heroes. 

No mean feat for a supermarket.

DESIGN FIRM CREDITS 

Interior, Graphic Design
& Written Communications
Landini Associates
www.landiniassociates.com 

Base Building Architects
Turner Fleischer Architects Inc.
www.tfai.com

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