Case Study: Premise spreads community awareness with branding for Brookfield building development hoarding

Case Study by Kevin Hoch RGD, Principal and Creative Director at Premise


Following on the successful completion of the West tower, Bay Adelaide Centre was ready to embark on building the 44-storey East tower, Bay Adelaide East. Designed to complete the picture of ‘the centre of business,’ the extended complex will include a new ‘arts and events’ precinct, one million square feet of office space and a dramatic retail presence for its main tenant, Deloitte, in the heart of Toronto's Financial District. 



Premise designed building hoarding (temporary wooden fencing around the construction site) for the Bay Adelaide West tower 6 years ago, and the team was invited back to expand on their successful marketing strategy for the second phase of the project. The client, Brookfield, maintained the goal established with the building of the West tower: to build brand awareness, create community acceptance during the construction phase and attract leasing prospects. 




Though the hoarding functions as a necessary protective barrier between the construction site and local foot traffic, it also serves as a bold billboard for the new building. With the right approach, it can also be a community art space, engaging future clients, investors, media and the general public. 




Maintaining a consistent look and feel with the hoarding design for the West tower was an essential element of the concept development for Phase Two. The Bay Adelaide East hoarding needed to feel like a natural extension of the marketing direction that had already been established to ensure that the complex would be viewed as a whole. 


Phase One


The direction of the branding needed to convey the project as a sophisticated business centre, a vibrant downtown destination for arts and events and a welcoming environment for tenants and visitors to the space. 


Phase Two


Premise created a bold, eye-catching design for the hoarding that would be read like artwork, giving viewers a sense of the centre's multiple purposes. Vignettes displayed across the hoarding introduce different features of the building and activities taking place within the complex, incorporating themes of business and entertainment and showcasing the building's outdoor courtyard through large-scale illustrations. To further highlight the illustrations, the size of the hoarding was increased on the side facing busy Yonge Street. 


We also decided to incorporate some playful quotes into the hoarding, assuring the public that the project would be completed in a timely manner. Through this messaging and the use of active visuals and bright colours, the design is eye-catching and engaging for passersby. 



Premise enjoys a great working relationship with Brookfield, and this project was no exception. Our client expressed their desires and objectives with precision and quickly gave us the definitive answers we needed, while also providing us with enough creative control to achieve a successful result through our own process.



Brookfield has a strong understanding of how to ensure a smooth design process and seamless production. Recognizing that it made sense for us to work directly with the construction team once the project reached a certain point, Brookfield staff stepped aside as intermediary and allowed the process to continue more efficiently. 


Having worked with him in the past, we contacted Doug Fraser, one of Canada’s foremost illustrators, to work on the hoarding illustrations. In addition to Doug's creative vision, we knew he would have the right insight for incorporating a wide variety of different elements. He came up with three comprehensive illustrations that hit the mark. 





We proposed the idea of trying something different with the messaging for the project, emphasizing how humour can engage a community. From this suggestion, the client decided to reach out to legendary comedy troupe Second City to create messaging that would relate to the timing for the building's completion, which we thought was a great idea. 


The client wanted to rotate the messaging periodically until the building's completion, but also needed it to be incorporated seamlessly into the hoarding's design. Our solution was to create signage space within the hoarding itself that would maintain a look consistent with the illustration, but would also be easy to swap out and change when necessary. 



Design Challenges 

With over 800 linear feet and 10,000+ square feet of hoarding to produce, we had a very large canvas to work with. Designing for this scale requires a flexible concept that can work with different configurations of the hoarding structure, which changed frequently throughout the three month process. 


Executing the illustrative concept became especially tricky once the hoarding had been fabricated. As a temporary structure, the hoarding underwent many changes making it necessary to complete quick redesigns on certain sections in order to meet the deadline. It was a challenge to maintain the feel of the illustrations through these changes, but the flexibility of the design allowed us to mix full vignettes with individual characters and messaging to achieve the desired consistency.  



Collaborating with our illustrator, who lives and works in BC, was another challenge. While we're accustomed to working with remote teams, the issue of communicating across different time zones made it difficult to arrange discussions when last-minute layout changes needed to be made. Sometimes you just want to pick up a phone and talk to them, but in this case the timing often made this impossible (i.e. 9:00 am here was 6:00 am there).


To address this, we had to manage the process very carefully and be clear on what was needed and expected from both sides. Strong project management and trust was essential, as was a detailed and thorough brief that both sides understood and had agreed upon at the start of the process. Looking back, a web conferencing tool might have helped make this process run more smoothly. Live screen-sharing would have allowed the illustrator to share his ideas more quickly and easily, which might have sped things up a bit. That being said, we feel, where possible, face to face meetings are always the best choice. 


For this phase of the project we also had to design interior hoarding on the underground level of the building. While the bright illustrations were a good fit for outdoors, we were concerned that the vibrant colours would be overwhelming in an indoor context. We decided to scale down the illustrations and change them to grayscale to make a strong visual impact in an otherwise dull area. 




“Premise understood our vision and produced a cutting-edge, vibrant design for our development hoarding. The hoarding is unique and brings life to the site, two goals we wanted to accomplish.  Kevin and his team are always a pleasure to work with!”  - Gillian Freeman, Marketing Manager, Brookfield


Our ultimate goal was to engage the community and present this building in the best light possible. While the client’s accolades were the most valuable measurement of our success in reaching these goals, an unexpected bonus result was the massive media stir sparked by one of the messages that was incorporated into the hoarding.


Images of the hoarding prominently featuring the message "Construction set to finish faster than a Kim Kardashian marriage" went viral, trending on Twitter and making headlines across the globe (RadarTMZ and Daily Mail). While public reaction ranged from enjoyment of the tongue-and-cheek joke to questions of whether it unfairly mocked the celebrity, everyone understood the message’s intent and the hoarding enjoyed 15 minutes of international fame.



Designer Takeaways

  1. Managing your client’s expectations during the planning phase of the project is key to building trust in your ability to deliver. Laying out any contingencies that might affect your timeline or budget at the beginning of the project allows the client to understand your knowledge of the process and adds assurance that you understand and are prepared to deal with issues that mayarise. Before we started the project, our client was fully versed on how issues such as changes to construction schedules or waiting on city permits would affect timelines.
  2. Pick your suppliers carefully. Choose professionals who are experienced and confident that they can achieve exactly the outcomes you want. Our Illustrator and sign installers for this project went above and beyond requirements and made this large-scale project look stellar.

Client Takeaways

  1. Once you’re clear on the outcomes you want, involve your designer at the planning stage of your project. The designer can help guide you on how to achieve your goals, forecast any barriers along the way, and help smooth the occasionally difficult process of getting all teams on the same page.
  2. Willingness to make a bold statement can pay off in the end.

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