Lebel & Bouliane


Sidewalk Talk: The architects building Toronto’s past into its future


A very thoughtful profile of Lebel & Bouliane from Sidewalk Labs' Editorial Manger Vanessa Quirk. 

From Sidewalk Talk:

"Projects at this nexus of past and future have become a calling for Lebel & Bouliane, the Toronto-based firm Bouliane launched with partner Natasha Lebel in 2010. The firm has created a new headquarters for Cossette Media from a former World War II ammunition factory in Liberty Village; modernized York University’s Student Centre while preserving the glory of its 1991 design; and transformed a crammed corner inside of Philip Johnson’s CBC building into a spacious, light-filled contemporary workplace. Their latest adaptive reuse project will turn a former fish processing plant into “307,” an office space and innovation workshop for Sidewalk Toronto’s explorations-in-progress.

“We’re really adept at reading architecture from different periods and understanding it,” says Lebel. “It’s about the original intention, its poetic nature.”


That hyper-sensitivity to “intrusion” is critical to understanding Lebel & Bouliane’s approach. Each adaptive reuse project begins with the architects stripping the building of its more recent renovations or additions to reveal and express the original structure — and hence the building’s history. Only then do they begin to weave in their own architectural interventions, which often take the form of dramatic geometric volumes, warm natural materials, and site-responsive forms.

“We definitely try to peel back all the layers, expose what’s beautiful, and then add our language within that, in a very simple way, without trying to take it over,” says Bouliane. “So you really understand the difference between the older, original building and the new elements that we’re layering on top of it.”

Read More: Sidewalk Talk