Surrounded by an overpass and former factories, The Gusto 501 Terracotta Hypergarage is a nod to our client’s story as well as its unique context. Featuring one of the largest operable glass façades in the world, and framed by weathering steel, the building has become a beacon in this nascent part of east-end Toronto.

The structure is conceived as two massive, sculpted, Terracotta and steel walls, held together by floating wooden volumes and a guillotine glass facade of monumental size. For the interior, we looked to terracotta—one of the humblest Italian building materials, and one that our client worked with in her youth when she helped her uncle lay bricks for residential projects in Italy.

We asked ourselves: how could these humble blocks be deployed to sculptural and animated effect? What did this primal building material want to be? Using parametric software models, we cut conventional terracotta bricks to craft movement through the undulating walls within a multitiered dining theatre that pulses like a radiant hive. Natural light from the glass roof 50ft above creates a lively play of shadows on the textured walls, and, at night, LED lights embedded within the blocks illuminate their opened voids.

The 280-seat restaurant consists of a series of mezzanines and cut-outs that offer a continuous, vertically unfolding array of experiences. On the ground level there is a sidewalk terrace and main dining room with its open pizza oven, woodfired grill, and take-out window. The mezzanine features a wine bar—partially veiled by dark metal mesh screens—overlooking the dining room below.

On the second level is a light-flooded cocktail bar with a bridge to the “Attico”—a private chef’s tasting room with a dedicated kitchen. Above it all is a roof terrace where guests can enjoy beverages and light snacks as well as west-facing views of Toronto’s iconic CN Tower and the city’s skyline.