View of front entrance from lamp post lined garden walkway

Legislative Assembly of Ontario Building

The Legislative Assembly Building is the first and finest example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture in Canada and is of national architectural and historic interest.

In 1990, a conservation plan, led by +VG Architects, was implemented over the next six years. The exterior conservation was one of the largest and most sophisticated stone conservation and roof refurbishment projects ever undertaken in Canada. The project was completed within 3% of estimates prepared at the out.set of the job.

The construction involved scaffolding of large sections of the building for each phase. The scope of the project included replacement of over an acre of slate and copper roof. It required the removal and restoration of over 600 historic wood windows, removal and replacement of all the face mortar and removing and replacement of over 17,000 cubic feet of sandstone. It also involved interior work, as the roof drainage system (cast iron risers buried in the interior walls) had to be replaced in its entirety.

Ordinarily this scale of project and type of construction work would be executed on an unoccupied building. This was not acceptable to the client and the building had to remain fully operational throughout the six year construction schedule. This challenge was compounded by the serious occupational health and safety risks involved with continuous noise, silica dust, volatile organic compounds in paints, caulking materials, lead dust from mortar removal, and pigeon droppings that constitute hazardous material. Stringent safety procedures were set-up and monitored on a continual basis.

The LAO building is presently in its fourth year of a five year masonry and window conservation program which involves analysis of previous conservation activities and continued conservative maintenance.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Legislative Assembly of Ontario

DESIGNATED

National Historic Site of Canada

COMPLETED

1995-Present

SIZE

575,000 ft²

SERVICES

Conservation & Various Upgrades

AWARDS

1995 Award of Merit
Heritage Toronto


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

PHOTOGRAPHY

Concrete Pictures

AWARDS

2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award
National Trust for Canada

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


View of building nestled in amongst city scape from the new Toronto City Hall

Toronto Old City Hall

Upon completion in 1899, Toronto’s Old City Hall was the largest civic building in North America and home to government officials for 67 years during a time of intense population growth and municipal changes.

Old City Hall is the most significant building designed by architect E. J. Lennox and is the busiest courthouse in Canada, with over 10,000 people circulating within it every day.

Over the past 20 years, +VG has met the building’s challenges of intense public scrutiny and communicating with multiple stakeholder groups while executing the multi-phased conservation project. The conservation work is guided by an initial Building Condition Assessment and the Cultural Heritage Character Statement for Toronto Old City Hall.

Toronto Old City Hall ongoing work includes numerous ongoing conservation projects and building upgrades which began in 1991. Work has to be carefully scheduled to meet requirements for courtroom scheduling. +VG recently completed work on a $34 million upgrade to the building’s heating and ventilation system, introducing new systems within all spaces of the occupied courthouse, and is currently working on security upgrades at 60 Queen Street West.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

City of Toronto

DESIGNATED

National Historic Site of Canada
Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV

COMPLETED

1991-Present

SIZE

325,000 ft²

SERVICES

Conservation & Various Upgrades

PHOTOGRAPHY

Nicole Konrad (+VG Architects)

AWARDS

2010 North American Copper in Architecture Award
Canadian Copper & Brass Development Association

2005 Architecture & Urban Design Award (Honourable Mention)
City of Toronto

2000 Certificate of Commendation
Heritage Toronto

1996 Certificate of Commendation
Heritage Toronto


Two-storey administration building on a sunny day

David Dunlap Observatory & Administration Building

The David Dunlap Observatory (DDO), one of Richmond Hill’s most iconic buildings and the largest telescope in Canada, was recently restored and revitalized by +VG to better serve the many patrons that visit these buildings every year.

The Observatory and the Administration Building were constructed circa 1935 and were owned and operated by the University of Toronto until 2008. Work included a Building Condition Assessment and restoration of the exteriors of both the Observatory and the Administration Building.

Upon completion of the revitalization of these buildings, the DDO had many important heritage elements restored to continue to provide public education and outreach, and play a key part in the transformation of the park into a major destination that will serve the residents of Richmond Hill and attract visitors from across the GTA. The goal of the project was to shape the way people experience David Dunlap Observatory Park, preserve a proud part of Canada’s astronomical research heritage, and to make this star of the City shine bright once again.

LOCATION

Richmond Hill, Ontario

CLIENT

City of Richmond Hill

COMPLETED

2021

SIZE

21,000 ft²

SERVICES

Building Condition Assessment & Renovation

PHOTOGRAPHY

David Lasker


85 Richmond Street West

85 Richmond Street West c.1923 was originally lauded for its high-quality offices and cutting-edge construction technology.

By the new millennium, the building was in need of significant rehabilitation work. Planned in relation to the construction of the adjacent EY Tower, the revitalization of the building by Oxford Properties has created new prestigious energy-efficient office space that highlights the character-defining heritage features of the building. Upgrades to the building include the sensitive insertion of a distinct addition within the lightwell of the Chicago School U-shaped plan, improvements to the exterior building envelope for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency, modern mechanical and electrical systems, building automation, and streamlined PATH connection to an enlarged ground floor lobby opening to the plaza at the west.

The heritage conservation scope includes:

  • Heritage Impact Assessment, Conservation Plan, and Heritage Interpretation Plan
  • Reinstatement of the Beaux-Arts style cornice at the roof using pressed and soldered lead-coated copper (the original was removed in the early 1950’s)
  • Reinstatement of original fenestration and spandrel details at the base to accentuate the historical proportional division of the façade
  • Conservation and upgrades to the original wood windows at the second floor
  • Masonry conservation of exterior white glazed brick and limestone principal heritage facades
  • Reconstruction of rear masonry facades
  • Decorative lead-coated copper belt courses and flashing
  • Exterior heritage lighting
  • Conservation of the heritage lobby and bronze entrance

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Oxford Properties Group

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV

COMPLETED

2017

SIZE

145,000 ft²

LEED

LEED v4 Gold Certified

SERVICES

Heritage Consulting Services


St. Michael's Cathedral Exterior Envelope & Tower

Between 2010 and 2017, as part of the Masterplan for the rehabilitation of St. Michael’s Cathedral, +VG Architects undertook a comprehensive, phased building envelope conservation project on the landmark 1847 Gothic Revival building.

All exterior building elements and systems were addressed, including traditional slate roofing, brick and sandstone masonry, metalwork and wood windows and structural elements. Beginning in 2010 with the West Facade and Tower, the work continued around the exterior over the next 6 years. Initial surveying, testing and analysis was done to assess and define the scope of Conservation work required. Further and more extensive investigative work was done from scaffolding, before decisions were made on a case by case basis for the appropriate conservation and repair methodology for each building element. Detailed conservation work such as fine cleaning, consolidation, and detailed repairs to maintain and stabilize the intricate carved sandstone were carried out on all of the many decorative stone features.

Structural stabilization of the original wood structural members, and of high-level masonry elements such as Gothic pinnacles, Stone Crosses and Carved Cornice stones was required. Where appropriate, restoration of lost detail was carried out- for example at the Upper Tower where conditions were extremely deteriorated and major interventions were required to stabilize and make safe the masonry; and, on the roofing where a version of the original slate roofing pattern, previously removed- was restored on the replacement roof.

The ability to react to unforeseen conditions, and to work closely with Conservators, Structural Engineers and Tradespeople were essential to ensure that the needs of the Client were met, and the historic fabric of the building is preserved and maintained for future generations. The work has been carried out to the highest of international conservation standards, with the aim being to always meet or exceeded the Parks Canada Guidelines for the Repair of Historic Places in every aspect. The Work has received recognition with Heritage Toronto awards in 2013 and 2017, as well as having been shortlisted for the Best International project at the Brick Awards in London, England in 2013.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Archdiocese of Toronto

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV, Section 29

COMPLETED

2017

SIZE

22,400 ft²

SERVICES

Master Planning & Conservation

PHOTOGRAPHY

Concrete Pictures

AWARDS

2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award
National Trust for Canada

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

2013 Craftsmanship Award
(Honourable Mention)
(West Façade & Tower Conservation)
Heritage Toronto

2007 Craftsmanship Award
Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP)


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.

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

Bridgepoint Health

DESIGNATED

Ontario Heritage Act, Part IV

COMPLETED

2013

SIZE

77,000 ft²

SERVICES

Retrofit/Adaptive Re-Use

PHOTOGRAPHY

Tom Arban

AWARDS

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


View of Nave from Alter with wood pews, organ on balcony, stained glass windows and vaulted ceiling

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

PHOTOGRAPHY

David Henderson (+VG Architects)