pellow + associates architects: designed to succeed.

Outlet Collection at Niagara

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Ivanhoe Cambridge
Building area:
57,800 sq. meters (Phase 1)

Gold Award - International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) - New Developments, 2015

The challenge

In 2012, Ivanhoe Cambridge approached pellow & associates with plans to develop an outlet mall on 25 hectares of land in Niagara-on-the-Lake, about 22 kilometres north of Niagara Falls. The developer had a clear idea of its business goals for the project, and was looking to pellow to come up with a concept to advance these goals. One particular challenge with this project was that it needed to be able to scale quickly to accommodate incoming anchor tenants.

Led by David Moore, the pellow team researched existing outlet malls and found that the majority featured architecture that generally delivered a down market experience. Given the upscale brands that were slated to be tenants in this new mall, the pellow team knew their design needed to create a higher fashion retail environment while reflecting the region’s wine and entertainment culture.

The solution

pellow conceived a design with a contemporary feel – a modern place that reflected contemporary Niagara wineries without feeling like a wine-themed resort. Decorative elements, such as grapevines planted in a field of gravel, a cedar trellis and a wall of wine barrels donated by local wineries, subtly conveyed a sense of the region.

In their research, the pellow team saw that most outlet malls had partial metal roofs, which gave the spaces a grey cast. To bring light into the Niagara outlet mall, pellow’s design specified a white fabric tent roof over the mall’s longest walkway. This eye-catching structure makes the mall easy to spot from the highway. At the same time a large front portal serves as a bold announcement to visitors that they have arrived at an extraordinary destination. The portal also provides additional spots for store signage.

With no anchor tenants in place for the opening of the mall, pellow came up with the concept of the barrel wall as a temporary way to enclose one of the mall’s end spaces. When the first anchor tenant announced its intention of coming to the mall, the wine barrel wall was easily dismantled and moved to the other end, which was being used as a parking lot until the second anchor tenant moves in. The wine barrel wall also provided the mall with flexibility to close this parking lot and make it available to food trucks or farmers’ markets.

The results

The Outlet Collection at Niagara – the largest open-air outlet mall in Canada – opened in May 2014. In its first seven-and-half months, the mall saw four million visitors and $20 million in average monthly sales. On average, 50,000 people visit the centre every weekend, proving the viability of this marketing model and “Outlet Collections” prototype.