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


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

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


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

2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award
National Trust for Canada

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


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

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)


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


School of Graduate Studies, University of Toronto

The School of Graduate Studies Administrative Offices are located in two century houses: 63 St. George and 65 St. George Street, built in 1872 and 1891.

Both buildings are listed on the City of Toronto’s heritage registry and required a sensitive approach to renovation that would provide modern office amenity while maintaining the distinctive heritage character of the two buildings.

The School of Graduate Studies defines and administers University-wide regulations for graduate education and represents the cause of graduate education at the University of Toronto.

The primary project goal was to create better space for graduate students to interface with the administration, with student common space, counselling and consultation space, and oral defense rooms that provided a more welcoming and dignified atmosphere.

The project commenced with an evaluation of the School’s Functional Program and space planning template to test options for improved organization and workspace efficiency. The building had been extensively modified over time and many of the rooms were awkwardly planned with poor circulation and ad-hoc provisions that severely compromised the quality of space. In particular, the HVAC and lighting systems were in need of improvement to meet a modern day Administration Office standard. The renovation scope of work included:

  • Rework of partitions and layout to support the program and respect original building layout
  • Provided new centralized HVAC system through entire building
  • New limited ceiling installations as required to support HVAC work while preserving plaster heritage cornices
  • Revised Building Exiting to allow for the removal of one existing fire escape stair
  • AODA compliant Accessibility measures throughout the first floor of the building.
  • New Interior Finishes including preservation of significant historic finishes
  • Heritage window replacement

LOCATION

Toronto, Ontario

CLIENT

University of Toronto

DESIGNATED

City of Toronto Listed Heritage Site

COMPLETED

2017

SIZE

10,000 ft² (63 St. George Street)
6,500 ft² (65 St. George Street)

SERVICES

Renovation & Restoration


Goodes Hall, Smith School of Business, Queen's University

+VG was retained to design a major renovation and significant addition to the historically significant Victoria School, a Richardsonian Romanesque schoolhouse constructed in the late 1800’s.

The program was for adaptive re-use and an extensive addition to house the Smith School of Business – an innovative education facility for the 21st Century. +VG was commissioned to undertake the work as Prime Consultant. Phase I of the project integrated the 4,000 m2 Victoria School and a 6,500 m2 addition as the new consolidated home for the School.

The project introduced a new skylit atrium along the east side of the heritage building allowing the building’s east façade to be exposed within the new public space of the facility. Completely new mechanical systems were introduced and included the use of spare heating/cooling capacity from an adjacent campus building to serve the building’s needs. The new facility included seven tiered lecture halls, and two classrooms, student break-out rooms, PhD and MSC program space, faculty offices, a computer lab, a video conference facility, and administrative space. The project was successfully completed on time and on budget, and won three awards of excellence.

Phase II was completed in September 2014, which includes a west addition that creates a large forecourt at the interface of the University and the school itself. A glazed interior gathering public space, “the Commons”, overlooks the forecourt. The intent is to engage the school with the larger university constituency. Phase II also included two tiered 80 seat lecture rooms, a flexible classroom for 80 that can open up to the Commons for special events, additional program spaces, faculty offices, and underground parking for 90 cars. Although Phase II was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the project was awarded LEED NC Gold certification.

LOCATION

Kingston, Ontario

CLIENT

Queen’s University

COMPLETED

2014 (Phase II); 2002 (Phase I)

SIZE

100,000 ft² (PII); 110,000 ft² (PI)

LEED

LEED® Gold Certified

SERVICES

Renovation & Addition

AWARDS

2008 Liveable City Award
City of Kingston

2003 Architectural Excellence Award (Honourable Mention)
Ontario Association of Architects (OAA)

2002 Award of Excellence
Frontenac County Heritage Foundation