Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Calgary Public Building Wins Lions Award for Restoration

New construction projects are a part of the everyday landscape in Calgary. Yet, equally important to building something new is the importance of restoring something old.

That’s what the Lion Awards are all about; preserving historical significance while retaining the best of what these landmarks bring to our city. The awards, which recognize citizens and groups who have undertaken initiatives to support heritage conservation in Calgary, were handed-out on July 28 at the Water Centre.

One of the projects that won an award this year is familiar to City employees who work and do business within its nearly 80-year-old walls.

Officially opened by Prime Minister R. B. Bennett in 1931, the Calgary Public Building was designed to accommodate the post office and federal government departments.

After the project was completed in 1929, local papers emphasized that "all Canadian materials and labour were used in the construction." It was reported that the project required two carloads of copper and lead, 6,840 cubic metres of concrete, more than 800 metres of reinforcing steel, 77,800 metres of plastering, 120 cars of cut stone, three carloads of battleship linoleum and 12 carloads of Quebec marble.

Purchased by The City in 1979, the Calgary Public Building has seen many changes and modifications to the original building design over the years. Previous renovations covered up many of the original character defining elements in the building, but the project team tasked with its most recent renovation, which was approved by Council in 2008, wanted to bring those original elements back to reveal as much of the historic quality of the building as possible.

"Part of proudly serving a great city is taking care of places like the Calgary Public Building," says Sharon Purvis, director, Corporate Properties & Buildings. "It is part of our history as a city and to be able to restore as many of its original features as possible, while still reducing energy consumption and focusing on sustainability, is a great achievement that benefits those who will use the space for years to come."

As part of the renovation, the sixth floor of the building has been set aside as a heritage floor, where the original doors, terrazzo flooring and plaster walls are still in place.

Attention has also been paid to the lighting in the corridors, which was matched as closely as possible to the original building fixtures.

The washrooms on the sixth floor are in their original 1929 locations and the original marble stall partitions have been incorporated into the design.

Visit calgary.ca for more information on the 2010 Lion Awards.

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