Performance Art

‘I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.’ – Beyonce

Beneath the stepped spectator seating in any arena, there’s always a wedge shaped space – higher than one might need at its tallest, tapering down uncomfortably to its lowest. This awkward space is where you’ll regularly find those ancillary functions that help to sustain the structure’s primary purpose – dressing rooms, concessions, washrooms and utility spaces.

At Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, this prismatic space is also used to accommodate guests as they wine, dine, commiserate and celebrate during breaks in the action. In 2019, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment decided to enlarge, refresh and re-brand one such venue, an exclusive club of about 840 square meters. We worked closely with DesignAgency to renew and increase the room’s capacity from about 130 to nearly 240 guests.

This was to become the premiere destination for premiere ticketholders. It was to be an energizing attraction and social destination on its own. It wanted to evolve from a subdued dining room into a vibrant, engaging club. Guests would arrive, not to be greeted with hushed murmurs but by the sound of boisterous laughter.

Architecturally, our most pressing design challenge was to find ways to make full use of the available space. We strove to convert the miserably shaped space into a cohesive asset. The project’s design vocabulary stresses sophistication, with lively and contemporary styling

Where headroom is seriously constrained, low banquette seating fosters a more intimate, lounge atmosphere. Where the spatial geometry allows for more generous ceiling heights, bars, wine displays and open dining dominate. The kitchen is enlarged and re-built to serve new, and more varied offerings.

We preferred to retain existing wine cooler displays and the dramatic linear marble bar, mostly because they’re stunning. Working closely with the interior design team, new visual focal points have been  created – a sparkling oval bar decorated with polished brass and exotic woods. There’s some dazzle.

Several semi-private dining niches are carved out of difficult residual volumes, with views back over the main club space. There’s amazing contemporary art throughout, displayed and lit properly. And, yes, there are a few subtle aviation references…

Handed those lemons, our team imaginatively blended a limoncello spritz.


‘Staggering and sophisticated.’ – National Post