West Block, Toronto

Restoring a Landmark Building

Back To Projects
West Block, Toronto

Historical Foundations

When the West Block was finished in 1928, it was one of the first structures built on land that was only recently reclaimed from Lake Ontario. The Art Deco building served as Loblaws’ state-of-the-art headquarters, housing its own electric tram railway, giant baking ovens, employee bowling alley, and auditorium for the performing arts. Over the years, a bustling neighbourhood grew around the area, and Loblaws relocated to a new headquarters. The time eventually came to refurbish the heritage site. To preserve its historical character, the West Block’s façade was disassembled brick by brick, cleaned and catalogued for future reconstruction.
  • Client

    West Block, Toronto

  • Location

    Toronto, Ontario

  • Sector


  • Discipline

    Wayfinding, Signage Restoration/Re-creation

  • Architect


  • Design Collaborator

    Filo Timo

  • Photography

    Ben Rahn/A-Frame and Entro

Signs of the Times

The West Block’s signs were iconic. If we were going to maintain the building’s character, they had to stay. Some signs had, however, changed and weathered over time. Other portions were impossible to salvage for reuse. Entro had the privilege of helping restore and re-create the building’s different installations.

Historical Re-Creation

We studied old photographs of the large “Loblaw Groceterias” lettering on the building’s west side. Noting how the sign had changed over time, we were able to re-create the original letterforms by hand.

For the south entrance, we were able to trace the impressions left by the original lettering. We took this outline to metalwork specialists Filo Timo, who cast a new sign in era-appropriate bronze.


Flanking the south entrance were plaques that celebrated the steam-powered transport that made Loblaws a success. We saw them as an ode to modernity as well as the building’s place in history. It’s a message that’s as relevant to us as it was to the original creators. To reinforce this continuity and to show the lasting power of both potential and heritage, we opted to restore rather than recreate these original signs.

Restored bronze steam ship on workshop table.

For this new mixed-used development, signage was a wonderful way to evoke the architectural and historical character of the original building.

Find out more about the history of West Block.

Share project