New Uses for Old Places – King Edward School, Calgary

New Uses for Old Places is a RETROactive series in which we are looking at examples from around Alberta of historic sites that have found interesting new uses for spaces that were originally designed for other purposes. In this last installment we will be looking at King Edward School in the neighbourhood of South Calgary as an example of adaptive reuse project underway to repurpose the building as a mixed-use arts incubator (a place that nurtures the growth and development of artists and arts organizations).

King Edward SchoolThe King Edward School was constructed in 1912 as a four-storey building that features a symmetrical design, rock-faced sandstone walls and a dressed sandstone front entrance. During its time as an institution of learning, the School also functioned as a community hub, hosting dances and other events. The school operated as versions of both King Edward Elementary/Junior High School and South Calgary High School. The school closed in 2001 and sat empty…until now.

In 2011, cSPACE Projects was established by the Calgary Arts Development Authority and the Calgary Foundation for the purpose of promoting opportunities for artist and non-profit arts/community groups. cSPACE became the new owners of the property and is now embarking on an ambitious rehabilitation effort.

Credit: www.cspaceprojects.com
Credit: http://www.cspaceprojects.com

The project involved the removal of a 1960s addition that was deemed to be non-character-defining to the historic value of the place as well as the construction of a new addition and two adjacent art studio pavilions. Modelled around the concept of providing a ‘creative commons’, ‘learning commons’ and ‘community commons’, the finished product will include facilities for artistic production, exhibition and rehearsal and will serve as home to a range of arts organizations and independent artists.

To learn more about this project, watch this video:

As part of the project the owner and the City of Calgary have entered into an agreement to ensure that the King Edward School will be designated a Municipal Historic Resource.

(A related example is that of the Hudson’s Bay Company Stables / Ortona Armoury in Edmonton’s Rossdale Neighbourhood that is operated by the Ortona Armoury Tenants Association, a group established to coordinate the involvement of the wide range of artists and related groups currently utilizing the space. The property was designated as a municipal historic resource in 2004.)

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

New Uses for Old Places – The Wainwright Hotel

New Uses for Old Places is a RETROactive series in which we are looking at examples from around Alberta of historic sites that have found interesting new uses for spaces that were originally designed for other purposes. In this blog post we will be looking at a building that is part way through a three phase rehabilitation project, the Wainwright Hotel.

Wainwright HotelThe Wainwright Hotel was constructed in 1929 as a three-story building utilizing poured-in-place concrete construction techniques. The hotel included nearly 60 rooms, a restaurant and a beer parlour. The development of the Hotel was influenced by its proximity to Buffalo National Park (closed in 1939) and the use of the Wainwright area as a filming location for a number of Hollywood westerns in the early 1920s. The Wainwright Hotel was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 2009. (For more information on the hotel’s past, check out this past post  on RETROactive.)

Now owned by the Buffalo Park Foundation, the Wainwright Hotel is about to experience new life. The Foundation has been working closely with Heritage Conservation Adviser, Carlo Laforge to undertake work to establish as mixed-use facility that will contain the gallery, museum and archives of the Buffalo Park Centre as well as office and meeting space on the upper floors.

Preparatory work has been underway to renovate the building, with the removal of asbestos and the selective removal of materials to ready the building for Building Code improvements, including new electrical, mechanical, plumbing and sprinkler systems. The first phase will involve removing a 1960’s addition at the rear of the building and opening the main floor to accommodate the gallery and museum space. To date, the majority of the preparatory work has been undertaken by a team of dedicated community volunteers (with asbestos removal completed by a qualified contractor).

The second phase of the project will rehabilitate the second and third floors of the building to allow for office and meeting space. The upper corridors will be conserved and are a character-defining element of the building, whereas the rooms themselves will be modernized for functionality. The third phase will include a new addition on the ground floor, in the location of the previous addition, and will provide loading docks and archival storage.

Click on the following link to access a copy of a presentation on this project given by Gord Snyder of the Buffalo Park Foundation and Carlo LaForge, Heritage Conservation Adviser with the Historic Resources Management Branch at the 2013 Municipal Heritage Forum: Wainwright Hotel PowerPoint – 2013 Forum.

We look forward to seeing the results of this exciting project in years to come!

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

New Uses for Old Places – Building Additions

New Uses for Old Places is a RETROactive series in which we are looking at examples from around Alberta of historic places that have found interesting new uses for spaces that were originally designed for other purposes. This week we will be looking at two examples of adaptive reuse projects that have involved the construction of additions to the historic fabric.

As previously discussed in this series, the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada offer guidelines for rehabilitating and adaptively reusing historic places. The “S&Gs” include specific provisions for how decisions can be made that will allow for the modification of buildings over time. A tenant may require additional square footage to continue operations or to start a new business in a historic place. When these situations arise and building additions are required, the Standards & Guidelines provide guidance on how to proceed.

Standard Conserve the heritage value and character-defining elements when creating any new additions to an historic place or any related new construction. Make the new work physically and visually compatible with, subordinate to and distinguishable from the historic place.
Standard Create any new additions or related new construction so that the essential form and integrity of an historic place will not be impaired if the new work is removed in the future.
Guideline Design an addition that is compatible in terms of materials and massing with the exterior form of the historic building and its setting.
Guideline Design a new addition in a manner that draws a clear distinction between what is historic and what is new.
Guideline Select the location for a new addition that ensures that the heritage value of the place is maintained.

Our first example, the Wetaskiwin Court House, was constructed as a three-storey, red brick building between 1907 and 1909 and served as a legal institution of regional importance for over 70 years. The court house was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1977 and the last court sitting was held in 1983.

A major rehabilitation project was undertaken in 2006 to convert the building to accommodate the offices and Council Chambers of the City of Wetaskiwin. As part of the rehabilitation, two new additions were added to either wing of the building. The project involved integration of older materials with new technologies, such as the tie in of the original cast iron radiators with the new geothermal heating and cooling system.

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Our second example, the Strathcona Public Library in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Edmonton, is a two-storey brick structure that was constructed in 1913 and remains the oldest surviving public library in Edmonton. The Strathcona Public Library was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2004 and a Provincial Historic Resource in 2008.

Strathcona Public Library

Over the years the use had not changed but the needs of the institution grew and additional space and services became a requirement. A major rehabilitation project was undertaken to construct an addition at the rear of the building (the left portion as shown on the image to the right). The rehabilitated library was re-opened in 2007.

Click on the following link to access a copy of a presentation on this project given by Tom Ward, Manager of Heritage Conservation Advisory Services, at the 2013 Municipal Heritage Forum: Strathcona Library PowerPoint – 2013 Forum.

These projects exemplify that heritage need not be frozen in place. There are means by which to respect and care for the original fabric while allowing for the transformation of uses over time.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

New Uses for Old Places – Historic Bank Buildings

In this edition of New Uses for Old Places we are going to look at two Provincial Historic Resources on Calgary’s historic Stephen Avenue that are currently undergoing rehabilitation. The Bank of Nova Scotia  and the Bank of Montreal Building are both slated to reopen with new uses this year.

In the early days of Alberta, banks were designed as statements of wealth, progress and confidence in a growing province. The buildings included lofty banker’s halls, adorned with fancy ornamentation — the ‘suits’ could look down on the tellers from the mezzanine above. The design was intended to impress investors and was conducive to the hushed conversation of financial matters.

But, what do you do with grand halls when the money managers move to a modern building? Historic banks can be difficult spaces to re-purpose due to challenges with acoustics, heating and the unconventional layout of the main floor. Nevertheless, for two former banks on Calgary’s Stephen Avenue, the commitment of the property owners and the selection of suitable tenants has resulted in the revitalisation of two very significant buildings on one of Calgary’s most active streets.

The Bank of Montreal building was constructed on Stephen Avenue in 1930-32 as a three-storey, steel-frame building clad in Tyndall limestone. The building replaced an earlier (1889) version of the building in an effort to modernize its image. The bank operated in this location until 1988. The most recent tenant, A&B Sound, left the building over a decade ago and it has since sat empty. Renovations are now under way to re-purpose the building to accommodate a restaurant/pub on the main floor, with 25,000 square feet of office space on the upper floors. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 2003.

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Just across the street sits, the Bank of Nova Scotia. It was constructed in 1930 as a one-storey steel frame, brick and sandstone structure and operated as a bank until 1976. Since that time the building has been home to a range of restaurants and clubs and is now being renovated to contain a public house. The renovation will involve re-plastering of the walls and restoration of the marble flooring in the entranceway. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1981.

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Heritage Conservation Advisory Services has been working closely with the owners of both properties to ensure that renovation activities are following the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

New Uses for Old Places – The Warehouse Conversion

This is the first installment of a new series of blog posts on RETROactive entitled New Uses for Old Places. We will be highlighting examples from around Alberta of historic resources that have found interesting, new uses for spaces that were originally designed for different purposes. To start us off we are going to talk about the ubiquitous warehouse conversion.

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One of the best ways to ensure a long and prosperous future for a historic place is to make sure that it is in use. Making certain that people are frequenting a site ensures that a historic resource stays relevant and in the forefront of public consciousness. This can be a challenge given that the purposes for which many of our historic places were originally designed for are now defunct. The conversion of a building to allow for a new use is known as adaptive reuse and it is a process that can require some creative thinking.

The values-based approach to heritage conservation recognizes the importance of activating our historic places and recognizes that alterations may be required to ensure the long-term sustainability of a site. The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada consider adaptive reuse to be a rehabilitation conservation treatment. Rehabilitation is understood to be “the sensitive adaptation of an historic place or individual component for a continuing or compatible contemporary use, while protecting its heritage value” (Standards & Guidelines, page 16).

A popular form of adaptive reuse/rehabilitation is that of the warehouse conversion. More common in larger cities that once were home to warehousing and manufacturing sectors, warehouse districts are now often surrounded by non-industrial, higher density development and attract investors who see the potential in the character that the former industrial spaces have to offer. Warehouses make good candidates for adaptive reuse because they have large, relatively open floor plates, generous ceiling heights and numerous large windows. These features allow for the flexibility to subdivide the interior space for a variety of purposes without compromising the unique elements that make warehouses so charming (think freight elevators, bank vaults, exposed beams, etc.).

Edmonton and Calgary were home to the majority of manufacturing and shipping in Alberta. As such the majority of extant warehouse structures are located in these two cities, though there are others scattered in other communities across the province. A number of these structures have received historical designation at the municipal and/or provincial level and have been rehabilitated to accommodate a variety of new uses.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

Click on the following links to find the listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places for warehouse buildings featured in the slideshow:

Camrose Feed Mill (Designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1985)

Canadian Consolidated Rubber Company (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2001)

Customs House (MHR) / Customs Examining Warehouse (PHR) (Designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1979 and a Municipal Historic Resource in 2009)

H.V. Shaw Building (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2001)

A. MacDonald Building (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2000 and a Provincial Historic Resource in 2003)

Metals Building (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2002)

Phillips Building (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2001)

Simmons Factory Warehouse (Designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2009)

The results are in!

We recently asked for your feedback regarding a possible joint conference with Heritage Canada The National Trust in 2015 and received over 100 responses. Here are the results (click on the image to enlarge).

How are you involved with heritage in your community?

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Have you previously attended the Municipal Heritage Forum?

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For those that attended, how were your travel costs covered?

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Would you be interested in attending a joint conference?

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For those not interested in attending, reasons for not wanting to attend included:

  • The content would be too extensive and/or not applicable to local needs
  • Unsure of the theme of the conference and if the content would be desirable
  • The expense of getting there

What would you/your employer/your organization be willing to pay to attend a joint conference?

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  • Of those willing to pay $400, the majority of respondents work for municipalities (66%).
  • Of those willing to pay up to $400, the majority of respondents work for municipalities or are volunteers (38% each).
  • Of those not willing or able to pay, the majority of respondents are volunteers (63%)
  • Of those who don’t know what they could pay, the majority of respondents are volunteers (41%) followed closely by employees for private sector companies (35%)

When asked for additional feedback, respondents indicated that the joint conference would provide opportunities for networking and would widen the scope of knowledge in Alberta communities. There were some concerns about the content not being as applicable to Albertans and that the cost would be challenging to cover. Questions were asked about different types of rates (group rate, volunteer rate, student rate, conference grants) and whether there would be opportunities for Albertans to submit conference proposals.

Based on the feedback received we now know that there is a great deal of support and interest for a joint conference with Heritage Canada in 2015. We also have helpful information as to what different groups are willing and able to pay. We will use this information, as well as some of the suggestions brought forward, to proceed with our planning for the event.

Thanks once again for your contributions!

And last but not least, the winner of our draw for a 2014 Family Annual Pass to visit Alberta’s Provincial Historic Sites, interpretive centres and museums is Brian Vivian with Lifeways of Canada Ltd. Congratulations, Brian!

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.

Meet our new Municipal Heritage Services Officer

Hi everybody,

Rebecca G_2013.11.14 (1)My name is Rebecca Goodenough and it is a real pleasure to introduce myself as the newest member of the Historic Places Stewardship team. I have read the bios of Historic Places staff on RETROactive with much interest over the past few years, wondering if (sigh) I might ever have such an amazing job. So it is with much excitement and a lot of humility that I introduce myself as the new Municipal Heritage Services Officer. I look forward to meeting a many of you over the coming months.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I came to the field of heritage conservation more recently and the majority of my education and work experience has been within the world of land use planning. I have worked in both the private and public sectors in British Columbia and Alberta. Most recently, I worked for Strathcona County as a Planner.

My interest in heritage grew from personal curiosity. I read books and took every opportunity to attend a course, lecture, meeting or conference related to heritage. The more I learned, the more I became a believer that heritage conservation is a means to achieving a great many of the long-term goals that planners and other community builders try to achieve through their day-to-day work: sustainable development, building a sense of place, quality in design, local economic development. All of these goals and more I believe are achievable through building a culture of respect for our past.

While with Strathcona County, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete a Professional Specialization Certificate in Heritage Conservation Planning through the University of Victoria. This program provided me with a strong foundation in the principles and practices of the field. I also helped to establish Strathcona County’s heritage program, which included participation with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program.

I hold degrees in Political Science from the University of Alberta and in Northern and Rural Community Planning from the University of Northern B.C. In my spare time, I enjoy participating in a few activities (at a very pedestrian level) including running, cross-country skiing and playing the piano. And, of course, I am still reading and attending those courses, lectures, meetings and conferences because there is always so much to learn!

I hope to bring my experience working with a range of communities and my understanding of municipal processes to my work with the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program and Alberta Main Street programs. More importantly, I look forward to meeting all you advocates for local heritage out there and hearing about the significant places in your communities.

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer.