Work Begins for Waterworks Building Heritage Preservation
By: Jack Landau, Urban Toronto
The wheels are in motion for MOD Developments and Woodcliffe Properties’ much-anticipated adaptive reuse redevelopment of the heritage Waterworks Building at 505 Richmond Street West in Toronto. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and featuring extensive preservation work planned by heritage specialists ERA Architects, the 13-storey project will consist of ten storeys of residential units atop a three-storey heritage base building housing a new food hall, other retailers, and a new YMCA. The homeless youth initiative Eva’s Phoenix has already opened in the eastern quarter of the complex. A revised Site Plan Approval application was submitted earlier this month, and crews have begun work to preserve the Richmond facade, as well as starting interior demolition.
Designed by the City Architect’s Office in 1932, the original Water Works complex is arranged around a central courtyard, and features an Art Deco exterior of buff brick with stone, wood, and metal detailing. While much of the exterior will be retained, some elements will be removed, including a sngle-storey garage off Maud Street. The original Maud Street iron gate will be preserved and relocated elsewhere on site.
Demolition of the Richmond Street wing’s interiors is ongoing, while work has begun to prepare the wing’s exterior facade for preservation, including the positioning of concrete blocks to which the facade will be anchored so that excavation can eventually take place behind.
The image below shows the south wing where the development’s Food Hall will be located.
The original 1931 gabled skylights were covered up years ago, and will be getting new glazing as part of the restoration. The food hall aims to make the Waterworks development a destination for people from across the city.
Behind the facades, other elements of the original complex are being incorporated into the new development, including a large overhead gantry crane from the former Machine Shop and Heavy Storage buildings. The crane will be relocated to the east end of the Great Hall. Meanwhile, too contaminated from years of industrial use, the original wood block flooring will be recreated in a smaller area in the Great Hall space. ERA Architects will be working with Heritage Toronto to create a plaque commemorating the history of the building, to be installed on the north side of the building near the courtyard entrance.