An excellent example of Brutalism, and itself the recipient of several architectural design awards, it was important to the team to respect the building’s character and importance as a municipal heritage site. In response, the project team stripped back the layers of history, revealing the original cast in place concrete structure, and exhibiting it wherever possible. The building then became a contributor to the gallery type, worthy of equal consideration to the future artwork on display. It was imperative to preserve the building’s historic look, feel, and materiality. The interior of the building features original tile floors and mosaics, exposed concrete formwork walls, dropped sculptural acoustic panel ceilings, and a signature terraced theatre. These historic features have been preserved and showcased using a light material touch of glass and light to enhance each feature’s original characteristics.
The building has a unique, complex floorplan. With two theatres of varying sizes, large open galleries meant to house exhibitions, and a grand sculptural atrium, it is well suited to be used for presentation, exhibition, and collaboration. Existing office spaces can be leased to tenants, and existing galleries and theatres can be used for their original functions by tenants or special exhibitions. Several small, temporary-come-permanent additions that were constructed throughout the building’s history have been maintained and showcased, allowing for each unique space to house a different use.
Accessibility was a key component of this restoration and a remarkable aspect of the building is that the original building contained many ramps and elevators which navigate the varying floor levels. The design team’s challenge was to respect the original building’s architecture while ensuring these components complied with current building codes. As the project involved many base building upgrades, the design team was challenged with integrating new systems without making them look out of place. Careful consideration was given to the appearance and routing of upgraded mechanical and electrical components, which contribute to the original building’s architecture, rather than diminishing it.
Outside, the landscape design focuses on providing an open entry plaza that complements the unique Brutalist style. The primary challenge was celebrating the entry of the historic building which required adaptation to evolving urban conditions. In response, the plaza is intended as a flexible space which can be used for multi-programmable events, while maintaining the sculptural forms and raw materials which draw attention to the main entry.