The Drake Hotel Modern Wing

“The Drake Modern Wing is a perfect example of visual integration achieved by respecting the cultural and visual context of its site”

Toronto Urban Design Awards Jury

Since opening nearly 20 years ago, the independent Drake Hotel on Toronto’s Queen Street West has become a cultural hub for locals and visitors alike, known for its curated program of site-specific art installations, popular rooftop Sky Yard, and groundbreaking performances in the Drake Underground music venue. Diamond Schmitt’s expansion nearly triples the number of hotel rooms, ensures art remains at the hotel’s core, connects to the street and strengthens The Drake as a cultural icon on Queen Street West and in Toronto.

Our design expands The Drake eastward along Queen Street West with 32 new hotel rooms and a Rooftop Suite and terrace. The new building transforms two adjacent lots into a contemporary extension that connects to the existing hotel through a new ground floor main lobby. The principal façade, clad in a white brick hand made in Denmark, is a palimpsest, or ghost image, with visible traces of the Victorian façades that define Queen Street West, overlaid with a modern composition of large and small windows in counterpoint. The exterior side walls are executed in Toronto’s traditional red brick, with panels of brick lattice that redefine the iconic Sky Yard and admit dappled daylight into the hotel’s hallways.

The Rooftop Suite, looking out over Queen Street West, is clad in mirror finish stainless steel and has the proportions of a shipping container. Set back from the façade by a large terrace, the suite cantilevers over the Sky Yard to create a dramatic presence.

A mid-block open air courtyard brings natural light into the hotel rooms on five floors, achieving visual privacy using a fractal geometry. The courtyard is one of many spaces on site dedicated to a rotating program of site-specific art installations.

Energy efficiency is achieved by the building envelope design which includes high levels of insulation and thermal bridging mitigation. A high wall to window ratio achieves 40% glass area without compromise to daylighting, view and comfort.

Our re-imaging of The Drake honours the hotel’s notable design presence and internationally significant role in Toronto’s arts community, while investing the new wing with cultural importance, grounded in history and the dynamic energy of modernity.

Client Drake Hotel Properties
Completion 2021

Interiors DesignAgency, +tongtong & The Drake’s in-house team
Photography doublespace photography

Awards See all project awards
2023 Toronto Urban Design Awards – Award of Excellence, Private Buildings in Context
2022 Brick in Architecture Awards, The Brick Industry Association – Commercial Category, Silver
2022 AZ Award of Merit
2022 AHEAD Americas – Rooftop Suite
Team See full project team