Measured had already successfully worked with the owners of Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods, Meghan and Steve Clarke, on Tractor Digital, when they approached us with a new challenge for their third downtown location: Could we take an area with an eight-foot-wide concourse running through it — specifically the atrium of Pacific Centre — and turn it into an enclosed and warm space that felt like a Tractor restaurant?
Why yes, we could.
The driving dilemma of this project was the separation of seating areas, with one by the windows and a second on the other side of the concourse by the pickup area. While we were unable to change the floor material or thoroughfare right of way, we were ultimately able to unite the two spaces through inventive application of the materiality of the walls, ceilings and seating.
We made consistent use of plywood for the millwork and pony walls to unify and create warmth in what was originally a cold space of glass and terrazzo. Because plywood on its own is quite smooth, we designed dots on primary pieces to create texture that resulted in areas of visual density. The dots also served to increase the porosity of the seating areas, create intriguing images for the eye, and draw attention to key spaces such as the coffee station and service line.
We were unable to connect the seating areas via the flooring, but we could via the ceiling. We chose linear black lighting throughout the restaurant, including the kitchen, to ensure the ceiling would read as one space. The black powder-coated steel of the plywood guards as well as the seating ties in well with the lighting. So does the plywood bulkhead, which we designed with a series of felt baffles for acoustic dampening. This also has the added benefit of concealing the existing T-bar ceiling and mechanical equipment.
Measured custom-designed the benches in collaboration with Fabulous Furnishings. We were careful to consider ergonomics, as the benches needed to be low enough to avoid creating a trough between the two seating spaces, but still comfortable enough to sit on to dine. While this is the first time that Tractor has used leather for seating, the result has been worth it: the warm, tactile quality of the benches help to unify the dining areas and act as a comfortable invitation to stay and eat.