October 12th – November 6th Construction Blog
It appears that time flies when you’re having fun and a transformative month of October has left plenty to be excited about! From epic openings for the new elevator, to new mechanical runs, and new concrete floors it seems that we are getting closer to seeing this old school turn a new page.
With gas lines now connected and temporary heat beginning to crank, our site super Gord is pleased to have the chill taken off within King Edward. Good weather in October has also gotten the building mostly enclosed for the winter ahead! While our ghostly Halloween inspection revealed a few hair-raising accounts, perhaps the few remaining windows yet to be repaired are what account for the occasional drafts down the back of one’s neck?
One dramatic piece of work that reached completion early in the month was the demolition of the 1960s stairway. Now a four storey void, the space will be reinstated as the primary working entrance for the facility. Careful restoration of damaged plaster is now required before any fresh coats of paint or artistic expression can be applied.
With time it’s amazing to see a space like this evolve. One recalls once how student coat hooks once adorned the corridors; to graffiti and temporary public art murals; to now seeing historic walls and arches again with less obstruction. One can also see the effect of change over time, the damage to historic fabric, and how a building is scarred by our occupation and changing use.
This influence of change becomes apparent with our own redevelopment work. October certainly continued as a month of dusty conditions for those working to transform the building with new doorways, space for mechanical ducts and new elevator shaft. While the impact of this change is apparent, it’s exciting to now see our new use for spaces emerge with these modifications.
Parts of our efforts are to create new connections between spaces once isolated from each other. With access between spaces like the new Green Room, one can begin to imagine how a support space for performance or a place for caterers will support events that will bring these halls and our studio theatre to life.
While ceiling are being patched in a discreet way on upper floors, in several places entire new floors are being created to support new functions like that of the transformed boiler room. Now that the historic boilers have been salvaged and demolition is complete, a new floor is being prepared to support new air handling equipment.
Elsewhere on the ground floor, concrete patches are being placed where historic terrazzo has been cut and removed for adding new services. This approach to patching is our attempt of keeping the spirit of what was, allowing visitors to “read” walls that once were and enjoy 100-year-old terrazzo underfoot, while also creating new layers, a new historical composition of this school-come-arts hub. With demolition complete and concrete now well cured, we are excited to imagine the next steps towards revitalizing spaces like this, steps that will support the risk-taking artistic creations of our tenants.
One transformation to the facility that impacts the historic fabric but brings the school up to 21st century standards for a building of this scale will be the elevator. Over the past few weeks, intensive work has been underway to create an opening through four floors to skewer an elevator shaft from ground to attic.
A fantastic photo opportunity for even our architect team, is captured in the experience of looking into this void, and makes apparent the significant effort to create space for the elevator to travel – allowing the facility to be fully accessible to all.
While construction will continue full throttle for the months ahead, a moment of silence is in order too with Remembrance Day this coming week. For King Edward School there is a special connection, for its walls carry the story of tremendous optimism of an era that would come to an end with the outbreak of WWI. Yet so too are we reminded through the human stories, through the school’s use for cadet training during the wars, to also remember this time from a different perspective.
We can recall the lives of these young people and others like them who would leave to fight on foreign lands. We can also learn how later students and teachers of King Edward would keep the memory of these earlier pupils alive – how in recreating historic moments like this, they would take a moment to remember how brave young men and women would play such a part in our coming of age as a nation.
Today with the redevelopment of historic King Edward School, we take comfort in knowing that the brick and mortar together with stories interlaced throughout, will live on. Our efforts of redesign will make changes, but these efforts commit to retaining the value of an important historic place, ensuring that vital stories that define who we are will carry on for generations to come.