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Omar Gandhi Architects takes the trophy for its GRAY Awards-winning design of Prime Seafood Palace in Toronto.

Photographed by Doublespace Photography

vaulted ceiling made of wood slats in restaurant

Hidden in plain sight, Prime Seafood Palace is an awe-inspiring escape from the sensory overload of Queen Street in downtown Toronto. Canadian Architect Omar Gandhi imagined the restaurant as a light-filled wood cathedral made with local, natural materials that complement the unpretentious but high-quality food from Canadian chef Matty Matheson. 

An inconspicuous brick-clad building on a corner lot became the shell for Gandhi’s design, which fits neatly within the constraints of the original space. Diners enter through a quiet courtyard where they encounter the two-story vaulted roof lined with narrow suspended wood slats—a treatment echoed in the restaurant’s window coverings and brass room dividers. A wood-clad cloud form hangs along the length of the vaulted ceiling, filtering light to cast a soft, indirect, natural glow across the restaurant’s interior. A complex lighting control system amplifies the natural light’s effects; it can adjust interior light levels in response to exterior equivalents.

Natural leather-upholstered booths give the warmth and comfort of a traditional diner—a reference to Matheson’s grandfather’s Blue Goose Restaurant on Prince Edward Island. The Canadian region’s vernacular—along with Scandinavian and Japanese architecture—influenced the design for Prime Seafood Palace. Custom chairs and tables, outfitted with hidden drawers for Perceval steak knives, were created in collaboration with Coolican & Company. A trip to the restroom is a must if only to gaze up at the white Bianco Carrara bamboo-tiled lightwell, a transcendent experience worthy of this chapel of design.

See more winning projects in GRAY magazine No. 70

cover of GRAY magazine no. 70 SUPER issue


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