GGA On Design

Sun Life Plaza & Lil' E Coffee Café

On occasion, there are small successes that happen within a larger project. The
"Lil' E Coffee Café" at the newly redeveloped Sun Life Plaza is an example of one of those successes.


Integrated into the feature stair at the heart of the main floor renovation is the new Lil' E Coffee Café flagship. A local company with an exceptional objective, and inspired by the founder's daughter Ella who was born with Down Syndrome, Lil' E, is as described by the owner, Paul Constance;

"This unique not-for-profit coffee café is dedicated to employing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To provide platform to build their employment and life skills to excel as they take the next step in their journey. Creating opportunities for these individuals with meaningful and productive employment, along with changing the awareness of our local community."

As local supporters, our team worked closely with Lil' E, donating time and services, to envision and design a space that will meet Lil' E's needs and proudly demonstrate the passion behind the project.


Comprehensive integration was at the core of our team's approach for this renovation project to ensure that the numerous spaces are directly tied to one another. This was achieved by using a bespoke design guideline that addresses aesthetics as well as values, to create a well-defined identity encompassing all elements of the design. The phrase "refined industrial meets playful placemaking" is the foundation for this guideline.

The first phase of the Sun Life Plaza redevelopment project which included newly imagined fitness and lounge spaces. The fitness centre is an extension of the main floor renovation continuing the industrial material palette, balanced with warm metal hues and blond wood millwork. The fitness lounge seating area is framed by a custom designed dropped metal ceiling cloud. Graffiti style washroom graphics make a bold statement as well as aiding wayfinding.


The second phase includes modernizing the interior plaza, reimagining the the space as a highly flexible, collaborative community space for a wide range if uses, including small group meetings, large scale corporate and civic events. The thoughtful design throughout the entire space speaks to social sustainability, thus creating additional positive outcomes for the existing and growing community within.

The centre piece of the atrium is a one of a kind, large organic shaped social stair case with integrated soft seating areas for group gatherings large and small. The space is a combination of large open vibrant pieces and small intimate areas such as the library. A multitude of spaces to allow for choice and flexibility, whether you need is for quiet time in the library by the fire, a formal meeting in one of the PODs or a casual gathering on social stair, the Plaza has it all!