Conestoga news

April 15, 2010 11:24 AM

Students Imagine Architectural Updates to Old Spaces

Imagine what you could do if you could revamp old spaces. The old is new again is the theme of a showcase at Cambridge City Hall this week as a group of second year Conestoga College students unveil their designs on adaptive reuse.

The students, who are in the college’s architectural project and facility management program, have been studying how old buildings can be put to new uses. As a class exercise, they have been working with staff at the Cambridge Fire Hall Museum and Education Centre located at 56 Dickson Street. They’ve measured and photographed every aspect of the historic Galt fire hall building and have then explored possible new uses for the building which are now on display in the Atrium of City Hall. Among the designs the students have come up with are converting the museum into a restaurant, a dance studio or upscale men’s clothing store.

“The process of transforming old structures for new uses, or adaptive reuse, is especially important in a community like Cambridge,” says Bo Densmore, Director of the City’s Economic Development Division. “As industrial buildings become available in the downtown cores, we are seeing more conversions of these amazing spaces into multi-use facilities such as commercial enterprises or residential opportunities.”

A prominent and successful transformation project for Cambridge is the site for the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture. Located on the west bank of the Grand River, a Canadian Heritage River, it forms the northern gateway into the historic Galt downtown and was once the Riverside Silk Mills, a dominant element of the local economic landscape. The original mill, announced in 1919 at a cost $25,000, was an "L" shaped structure with the shorter wing running from Melville Street to the edge of the river and the other arm running along the river parallel to Melville.

“Reuse and recycling of our heritage buildings play a vital role in maintaining healthy and vibrant cities especially in our downtowns,” says Ron Bean, Professor, Architecture Project and Facility Management, School of Engineering and Information Technology at Conestoga. Conestoga offers a four-year degree program in Architecture Project and Facility Management which is now in its seventh year.

The students’ work, which is on display between now and Friday, April 9th, coincidently ties in with the presentation slated for Thursday, April 8th at 6 pm by developer David Gibson to members of the Downtown Cambridge Business Improvement Association in the Toyota Room of the Cambridge Centre for the Arts.

Bo Densmore
Director of Economic Development
519.740.4536 ext 4511

Ron Bean
Architecture – Project and Facility Management
School of Engineering, Conestoga
519.748.5220 ext 2276