The Merchandise Building was built in various stages from 1910-1949 and is a classic example of the renowned early 20th-century industrial Chicago School architectural style. Simultaneously during the construction of this iconic building, the art deco movement was in full swing and was later owned by Simpsons and then Sears Canada. In the 1990’s the historic warehouse building was one of the first industrial buildings to be converted into residential lofts located in downtown Toronto. The common areas which were not designed during the conversion, called for a design competition in 2010 which was won by Bortolotto.
The existing ground floor common area which extends one city block from Dalhousie to Mutual streets are connected by a long jagged hard space. The new design can be read as two walls of ribbon side by side weaving its way from one entrance to the other creating a smooth curved corridor and lobby area. Contrasting with the curved ribbon walls are ceiling and wall elements inspired by images of industrial machinery and the art deco movement as they are stepped and tapered to provide texture and pattern to the space. An art gallery is introduced at one end of the corridor containing many of the large format archival photographs of the original era of the building. The fourth floor common lounge areas and reception are designed to be warm and inviting for residents to work or read in or to gather with friends. The spaces consist of wood ceilings and walls in some areas, concrete floors while keeping with the adaptive reuse feel of the former warehouse building.