River side rear view at dawn with structure illuminated in sunlight

Toronto Power Generating Station

+VG Architects was the design leader for the winning proposal submitted by Pearle Hospitality to Niagara Parks Commission for a transformational $200 million-plus private-sector investment to restore the National Historic Site while creating an unparalleled visitor experience, including the first five-star boutique hotel at the falls, befitting its location overlooking iconic Horseshoe Falls.

Opened in 1906 to supply hydroelectric power to the Toronto market and mothballed since 1974, the palatial powerhouse was designed by Toronto-based architect E. J. Lennox (1854-1933), best-known for Toronto Old City Hall and Casa Loma.

“The sheer scale of Toronto Power is unrivalled by any other Beaux-Arts-style building in Canada other than Union Station,” says Robert G. Hill, author of The Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada: 1800-1950—and Toronto Power boasts finer and more prolific detailing.

The powerhouse redevelopment will provide a world-class visitor experience unlike anything currently offered in the destination or the province, including the first and only five-star boutique accommodation at Niagara Falls, a variety of culinary offerings, multiple indoor and outdoor free public viewing areas, a craft brewery, a wellness and social spa, theatre, museum and art gallery and event space.

Niagara Parks Power Station

In 2017, Niagara Parks’ engineering team began a thorough assessment of the century-old building to determine the state of its structural integrity.

The initial inspection revealed water from the Niagara River was still entering the plant and flowing into the penstocks. The large headgates that acted as a barrier had deteriorated from rust. Safety was of the utmost concern.

Based on the findings of the assessment, a concrete barrier was placed in front of the penstocks to stop water from entering the power station. A swing stage was also built to allow access to different levels of the plant where geotechnical and structural inspections were completed.

Phase 1 Construction
Phase 1 construction took place between 2018 and 2021, with most of the construction concentrated inside the 600-foot forebay to protect the generator hall.

Part of the forebay was reserved to create a 100-foot water feature that will show visitors how power generation began with water flowing into the plant. On either side of the water feature, new floor space was created for amenities such as shopping, guest services and future culinary experiences.

The original equipment in the generator hall was meticulously shined and restored to showcase the incredible power generating technology built in the early 1900s.

Heritage Preservation
As the environmental and cultural stewards of the Niagara River corridor, preserving the heritage of the power station was of the utmost importance, driving all the decisions during the adaptive reuse construction process.

A comprehensive strategic conservation plan determined what elements were most important to preserve. All the equipment showcased in the generator hall have been carefully cleaned and left as they were when they were originally built. The power station was built utilizing durable materials such as limestone, granite, brass, and copper.

More than 400 people have worked in the facility during the adaptive reuse construction, including more than 100 staff from Niagara Parks.

Featured Machinery
There are 11 generators inside the power station. The first five were installed when the power station opened in 1905. The remaining six were added up to 1924, when the plant was fully operational. The generators inside the power station have been cleaned and painted blue, the original colour prior to the power station closing in 2006.

Each of the generators has a corresponding governor that controlled and regulated the rotational speed of the turbine. The governor made it possible for the generator to produce a constant frequency of alternating current electricity. The frequency was measured in hertz. The governors you see inside the power station have been meticulously cleaned and hand-polished to preserve their heritage quality.

Exciter units were mounted on the same shaft as the main generators and produced DC power for the field windings. They weighed 45,000 pounds and created excitation powered by water. When spinning, the exciters could reach up to 600 rotations per minute! When the power station first opened in 1905, its five exciter units were placed deep underground in the wheelpit. Eventually, it was discovered the environment was too moist, and the exciters were moved to the main generating floor. The exciter placed outside, in Power Plaza, was reduced to 16,000 pounds. A special powder coating was applied to protect it from the outdoor elements.

The Workers
At Niagara Parks, we are fortunate to have many talented and diversely skilled tradespeople who played a vital role in bringing the power station back to life. During the adaptive reuse construction, we employed our electricians, plumbers, masons and laborers.

In addition, approximately 75 contractors were hired and more than 400 people have worked in the facility, including more than 100 staff from Niagara Parks.

Bottom level with frosted glass (blue) skylight to first level and steel beams and rafters throughout

Old Don Jail (Bridgepoint Health Administration Centre)

The Old Don Jail (c. 1864) is a 3.5 storey buff brick and Berea sandstone Renaissance Revival building founded on a rusticated Queenston limestone base.

The main entrance of the central block is placed on an elaborate surround with a bracketed entablature supported on a pair of Doric columns with vermiculated bands. This central block is flanked by bricked wings. The rehabilitation project includes the conservation of significant interior and exterior heritage features while adaptively re-using the building for Bridgepoint Health offices and administrative work. The Old Don Jail is a provincially and municipally designated heritage building with easement agreements recognizing the existing heritage character-defining features.

This project was a modernization of a “smart” building for a contemporary hospital administration within a historic building and historic landscape. Management of multiple stakeholders was a major element of this project. Stakeholders included hospital administration, the Toronto Heritage Preservation Board, the Ontario Heritage Trust, and specific community interest groups. Other common elements include integrating contemporary design strategies within a very rigid jail structure with the purpose of wholesale transformation into wide open multi-purpose public spaces that act as community hubs for the health community of bridgepoint. As part of the rehabilitation project, +VG produced heritage conservation and interpretation plans approved by the Ontario Heritage Trust and the City of Toronto’s Heritage Preservation Services, detailed drawings and specifications for the exterior restoration and interior adaptive re-use, and extensive documentation of heritage character-defining features in-situ, including elements to be removed/salvaged/preserved/restored.


Toronto, Ontario


Bridgepoint Health




77,000 ft²


Retrofit/Adaptive Re-Use


Tom Arban


2016 Governor General’s Medal in Architecture,
Governor General’s Awards

2016 William Greer Award of Excellence,
Heritage Toronto Awards

2014 Cornerstone Award,
Heritage Canada

2014 Best Commercial or Institutional Building of 2014,
The People’s Choice Awards for Architecture

2014 Paul Oberman Award for Adaptive Reuse & Heritage Restoration,
The People’s Choice Awards for Architecture

2014 Award of Excellence,
Canadian Architect Magazine

2014 “Best of the Best Award”,
Toronto Construction Association

Oakville Museum Coach House

The official opening of the picturesque, Shingle Style Oakville Coach House in 2022 marked the completion by +VG Architects of the adaptive reuse of the Erchless Estate, a cultural heritage property designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act as an intact surviving example of an estate developed by a wealthy settler family.

This ensemble of historic buildings on an elevated natural embankment overlooking Lake Ontario, the mouth of Oakville Harbour, and Sixteen Mile Creek, comprises the Custom House (1856); the Italianate-style residence (1858), former home of several generations of the town’s founding Chisholm family and restored as the Oakville Museum by +VG in 1991; the post office (1835); and the Coach House (1901).

The 5,150 ft2 Coach House, the most elegant building on the site, was designed by the Toronto-based architectural firm Dick and Wickson around 1899. The building is in three-parts: horse stables and tack area, coach storage and hayloft; a two-storey gardener’s cottage; and a linking storage area. The exterior charms the eye with eclectic features such as the steeply pitched cross-gable roof and its irregular slopes, eyebrow dormers, bell-cast and bowed projections, shingled cupola, and bay window and mullioned windows.
The project mandate was to:

  • Create a multi-purpose public venue and restore the gardener’s cottage;
  • Strengthen links and enhance visual access to the Coach House;
  • Enhance the indoor and outdoor connection and presence of the Coach House in the Oakville Museum campus;
  • Harmonize the landscape design with the larger Erchless campus and broader park, river, lake and road settings;
  • Integrate path systems, wayfinding and visual accessibility from within and outside the museum campus;
  • Protect the archeological and cultural heritage significance of the Coach House and surrounding grounds;
  • Change the building’s use from storage to assembly occupancy.

Bringing the building up to current accessibility standards necessitated interior renovations such as door and washroom access improvements.


Oakville, Ontario




5,100 ft²


Adaptive Re-Use




David Lasker


Oakville Coach House
OAHP Newsletter

Rosemount Branch Library

+VG Architects’ vision for the rehabilitation and renovation of the Rosemount Branch Library was to deliver an efficient and effective facility to the community and Ottawa Public Library (OPL) staff that would contribute to increased community activity, creative programming, and a socially inclusive and connected community.

The existing library has not undergone any significant renovation since 1982 and as a result the layout of the library does not properly support its current programs and activities. +VG addressed the many functional and operation deficiencies of the library through an economical, sustainable, historically respectful renovation and rehabilitation plan.

Our firm leveraged our previous experience on similar library projects to derive a new functional program for the Rosemount Library through comprehensive consultation with all project stakeholders, including City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Library staff, citizens, and community groups. This project presented an opportunity to rehabilitate and renovate Ottawa’s only Carnegie Library in its centennial year, as well as to transform a historic and beloved public institution into a more legible reflection of the past and a beacon for the future.


Ottawa, Ontario




6,089 ft²


Rehabilitation / Renovation




Kevin Belanger

Two students in central glazed meeting room with blue carpet, white chairs, wood plank floor and ceiling feature and tv screen

St. Lawrence College Library

+VG was retained to complete a design and contract administration for design services for renovations and upgrades to the St. Lawrence College Brockville Campus Library.

Improvements included interior design, ceiling and lighting replacement and energy efficiency upgrades. The space was expanded and the layout reconfigured to a more efficient use of the library. The high ceiling space allowed for the creation of new clerestory windows which provide natural light.

The new design of the library divides spaces into quiet and collaborative group spaces, improves barrier free accessibility and front desk reception space. The modernized library creates an improved experience for the students of the college.


Brockville, Ontario




4,426 ft²






Janice Chung

Second storey with bookshelves, lime green lounge chairs along glass guard rail, white columns, and clerestory windows

Peterborough Public Library

The project is an addition and complete refresh to the Peterborough Main Public Library, located on Aylmer Street, west of the City centre.

The facility was opened in 1978 and was designed by Moriyama Architects. It is a two-storey brick building with curving clerestory flood- ing the interior collections space with light. The exterior stairs lead up to a compressed lobby entrance that connects to the open main collection area. The lower level has a community space, auditorium, a suite of administration offices, and a large storage and processing area.

The focus of the expansion is to have a strong street presence; be open, inviting, and transparent; and provide an accessible entrance, while increasing the amount of flexible community spaces. The existing facility will be transformed to be open, airy, and day-lit.

The layout will be reconfigured to increase public space in the lower level which will host the Children’s Library. A large opening will be provided in the floor above, allowing natural light and a feature stair to connect the collections. The view to the exterior court from the Children’s Library will be enhanced by landscaping the hillside.

More public computers, a lap top café, casual seating areas, study areas, and seminar rooms will be available.


Peterborough, Ontario




45,000 ft²


Renovation & Addition




David Whittaker

Lounge seating along top of double height staircase with large windows, glass guard rail and white pendant lighting and wood book shelves in rows

Milton Central Public Library

Part of the Milton Centre for the Arts, the main Library complements the vision of the Milton Public Library Board for their service delivery model.

The Library includes space for: Broad, in-depth collections; Resources and programs; Children’s program room; Computer training and study rooms; Seating (including silent study space); and Workstations.

The project has consolidated the program into a single destination on the second floor. There are two main studios, one for adults and one for children. Main programming features of the Library include: Administration area including offices and staff lounge; Check out, central lobby, and central concession areas; Program, silent study and group study rooms; Children’s collection and reading areas; Fiction and non-fiction collections areas; and Washroom facilities and ancillary service uses.

The Library is part of a larger renovation project for the Milton Centre for the Arts which includes two theatre spaces: the Mattamy Theatre, a 500 seat theatre (21,000 ft2); and the adjacent Minmaxx Hall, a 200 seat multi-use theatre space which can be used as a performance space, private event space, or rehearsal space for the main theatre.


Milton, Ontario




27,240 ft²


New Construction (Design/Build)


2012 PRO Award of Excellence in Design
Parks & Recreation Ontario