St. Michael's Cathedral Nave Rehabilitation

In September 2016, +VG Architects completed the 5 ½ year rehabilitation of the Nave of St. Michael’s Cathedral. The Nave of the Cathedral is the spiritual centre of the Archdiocese of Toronto, a place of beauty and significance for a thriving and diverse Roman Catholic community.

The project aims to re-establish the integrity of the original 1848 Gothic Revival design vision of architect William Thomas, while completing a complete upgrade of the facility in terms of building performance, accessibility and code requirements. +VG was the lead consultant in a collaborative team consisting of a Construction Manager, sub-consultants, sub-trades, artists and craftspeople who completed the work.

New washrooms, barrier-free accessibility (including new barrier-free elevator), environmental HVAC and lighting controls, fire and life safety, and audio/visual and broadcast capabilities have been integrated into the 165 year old Cathedral, ensuring the client’s changing needs are well served into the future.

Painting of the Cathedral ceiling, hand-carved Gothic Revival white oak millwork and statuary, in-situ historic plaster conservation, installation of intricately patterned stone flooring and wainscoting, conservation of existing stained glass windows, and introduction of new stained glass designs, and a hand built custom pipe organ (“Opus-3907”) are all examples of the work completed. The project was recognized with the William Greer Award for Craftsmanship at the Heritage Toronto awards in 2017.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Archdiocese of Toronto

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV, Section 29

COMPLETED

2016

SIZE

18,000 ft²

SERVICES

Renovation & Restoration

AWARDS

2017 Craftsmanship & Conservation Award; Heritage Toronto (Nave & East Chancel Window)


St. John's Chapel Atrium, St. Michael's Cathedral

The St. John’s Chapel Atrium is +VG’s contemporary addition to the complex of heritage buildings from different eras, which together, make up the St. Michael’s Cathedral site.

Above grade, the Atrium is a modern multipurpose space, creating a cloister-like link between the 1890s Chapel, the administrative and residential accommodation of the 1845 Rectory, and the early 20th Century Sacristies – the ancillary spaces serving the main worship space of the Cathedral Nave. On the exterior, the palette of materials has been carefully chosen to complement that of the existing buildings and maintain the continuity between the different eras represented on site. The interior is simple and reverent, with fair-faced concrete block, wood and slate providing a backdrop to the conserved west façade of St. John’s Chapel and a stained-glass window, relocated from its original home in the Cathedral’s Narthex, which are highlighted as the main visual features of the space. The west façade opens out through tall glazed doors onto a summer terrace under a glass canopy, creating a transitional space between the Atrium interior and the quiet gardens of the Rectory.

Below grade, the Atrium addition contains a new 3,000 ft² basement housing a state-of-the-art Central Utilities plant, providing modern heating, cooling and power systems which have been discretely distributed and integrated throughout the whole complex. This coordination and integration of services has been a key part of +VG’s work at St. Michael’s Cathedral, maintaining the character-defining qualities of the existing heritage buildings, while providing them with the environmental control and high-tech infrastructure of a modern facility, all of which must have been unthinkable at the time the Cathedral was originally built.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Archdiocese of Toronto

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV, Section 29

COMPLETED

2018

SIZE

4,800 ft²

SERVICES

Renovation & Addition


St. Francis of Assisi

Originally designed by Arthur William Homes in 1914, the construction of St. Francis of Assisi was completed in 1915.

Located in the heart of Little Italy, the church accommodates 900 people. The Nave, composed of a sequence of vaulted ceilings, allows daylight to come in through the stained glass windows, generating an array of colours as you navigate the space.

As part of the intervention, a new slate roof was installed and the plaster ceiling was completely restored. The interior paint scheme was restored to a monochromatic paint scheme from 1945 to allow the colours from the stained glass windows to be magnified within the Nave. The decoration intensifies in the Transepts and into the Sanctuary to emphasize the importance of that sacred space and the beauty of the East stained glass window. The entire Sanctuary area was restored to its original design with the reconstruction of the wood reredos screen as the backdrop of the Altar and the removal of the mosaic wall installed in 1972 during a previous intervention that concealed the East wall. The East stained glass window was reinstated to its original glory and two Guido Nincheri frescos were unveiled and restored along with all the East wall artwork. The restoration of the coffered ceiling artwork over the Sanctuary was donated by a parishioner of the Italian community in memory of his late wife, proving this project to be essential to the community and possessing immense value to its parishioners.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Archdiocese of Toronto

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Listed Building

COMPLETED

2018

SIZE

11,530 ft²

SERVICES

Restoration


Bridge House

Located in Muskoka, Ontario, the Bridge House overlooks the south end of Lake Joseph, one of three large lakes in the region.

The house is located on a rock outcrop overlooking the lake and the boathouse, and breaks the mould of faux-traditional architecture typical of the region.

The building is L-shaped in plan, with the main living space and master bedroom wing separated from the guest bedroom wing by an elevated screened porch. The plan of the main living wing was developed to create circulation along either side of the plan to maximize openness, views, and transparency.

The L-Shaped floor plan hugs the curved crest of the hill. The building emerges from the rock face defining an edge and creating a gateway, an arrival from the water that emphasizes the boundary between the hectic city environment and the serenity of the lakeside location. The screened porch forms a “Bridge” which spans the space between the two wings, creating a threshold between the driveway and the lake. The building appears to be a part of its site, merging with the rock overlooking the lake.

COMPLETED

2017

SIZE

6,338 ft²

SERVICES

New Construction


House on Big Bay Point

This family compound houses a one-storey wing with great room, screened porch and master bedroom on the ground floor with views to Lake Simcoe.

A two-storey wing at the entry side of the building accommodates six bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms; there is also room for future bedrooms in the basement.

The building is painted in dark tones with a cedar roof to blend with the site, while interior rooms flow with the exterior spaces fora seamless connection.

LOCATION

Innisfil, Ontario

COMPLETED

2016

SIZE

14,000 ft²

SERVICES

New Country Home


House on Stephen's Bay

This 5 bedroom, one-storey recreational home hugs the landscape and rock overlooking Lake Muskoka.

The T-shaped plan houses the great room and kitchen at the south end, with attached garage, and the bedroom wing at the north end. Most bedrooms have a view of the lake, and the main concept is to have a completely daylit interior which maximizes views and brings the outdoors in.

COMPLETED

2016

SIZE

4,923 ft²

SERVICES

New Construction


House on West Lake Rosseau

The house was originally built on spec in a neo-traditional style.

The new owners requested that the building be converted into a more contemporary and clean look, to eliminate decorative elements such as round top windows and dormers.

Exterior stairs were relocated to flanking elevations and windows enlarged to improve quality of daylight, views and ventilation.

The boathouse was renovated in a similar manner.

COMPLETED

2014

SIZE

6,500 ft²

SERVICES

Renovation


Caledon Hills Country Home

This house is located in the Caledon Hills on farmland which is still cultivated.

The landscape is subtle compared to some of our more northern projects located on rugged sites in the Canadian Shield. The goal was to create a house which not only fit into the landscape but also integrates the interior with the exterior.

The main floor is configured as the entry foyer, mudroom, great room, screened porch and master suite, and the lower level has three bedrooms, a family room and games room below the second porch, all with maximized daylight in a walk-out condition.

LOCATION

Caledon, Ontario

COMPLETED

2015

SIZE

4,500 ft²

SERVICES

New Country Home