Architecture Canada n°4 1er semestre 2008
Architecture Canada n°4 1er semestre 2008
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  • Parution : n°4 de 1er semestre 2008

  • Périodicité : semestriel

  • Editeur : Naylor Canada

  • Format : (213 x 276) mm

  • Nombre de pages : 52

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www.raic.org/2008 Toronto architects help bring police back Toronto architects help bring police back to community By Christopher Guly For decades, it was an abandoned and dilapidated landmark located on a prominent corner of downtown Toronto’s Parliament and Front streets : a three-storey heritage structure built in the late 19th century that long served as the Consumer Gas purification plant. But seven years ago, the Toronto Police Service enlisted the assistance of a team of architects to transformthe decaying eyesore in the city’s Corktown district into a welcoming and vibrant community-oriented facility for the TPS’s 51 Division in one of the city’s highest crime and most at-risk urban neighbourhoods. « I thought it was incredibly courageous of the police to choose this site if you had seen the state the building had been in – grey stucco was baked onto the beautiful brick and stone work, » says Michael Moxam, FRAIC, design principal of the Toronto office of Stantec Architecture Ltd., which led the project. « But it’s a great community gesture to take an old heritage building and give it back to the community. » 36 ■ THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA ARCHITECT : STANTEC ARCHITECTURE/PHOTO : RICHARD JOHNSON, INTERIOR IMAGES 51 Division also needed a new home. Its previous location in a facility built in 1953 in the low-income neighbourhood of Regent Park was too small, had insufficient parking space and, from a security perspective, was poorly designed, says Moxam. « The front entrance was very smalland tight. People could come and goup a few stairs, which didn’t give the visual command police at the front desk needed. » There’s no lack of visibility in the new space, which opened in 2004. « The front lobby of the police building was designed to allow for a very broad visual command of the entrance, » explains Moxam. Complementing that is a newly defined civic plaza along Parliament Street that establishes a community court to accommodate public functions. At 51 Division, the main entrance leads to a public space that interlocks two buildings. The public lobby is defined by the space between the new contemporary intervention, which passes into the existing building, and the volume of the historic building. « The lobby provides the necessary visibility and security for the police while fully connecting to the adjacent key urban intersection, » explains Moxam, who describes the site as « a dialogue between very modern, new architecture (and) old heritage architecture. » As he says : « The whole idea of policing today is about being in partnership with the community for crime prevention, and architecture has to express that. « New police buildings need to look approachable and inviting, and be accessible in a real way. But you still have to very clearly define the public zone from the secure zone, and make sure that line cannot be breached unlessit’s under the control of the police. » The 51 Division site is divided into three zones : a public zone, a community buffer zone and a secure zone. A garden wall runs along the south and west of the site providing differentiation between interior and exterior and public and secure zones. North-south ochre
planes pass through the fabric of the historical building, defining program volume and exterior space. The secure offices, work and detention areas of the facility are set back from the original brick walls and contained within a new enclosure insulated to ensure the walls remain exposed. Moxam explains that this « building-withina-building » approach minimizes temperature and moisture stresses within the historic walls, and enables the public to experience the relationship between community history and contemporary architecture. To highlight that community connection, the lobby features public exhibition space depicting the history of the neighbourhood, the building and the Toronto police. « One of the real driving forces behind this project was to create a sense of accessibility and urban connectivity to be inviting to the public, » says Moxam. « But we also treated the existing building as a bit of site archaeology that needed to « In the past, they’ve often had the appearance of a fortress. So we tried to develop an architectural image that’s very community friendly, very inviting and not something that’s threatening – even though it has everything a police station needs from a security point of view. » Toronto architects help bring police back be preserved. So the new building sits both outside and inside the old building. » The idea was not to follow the usual approach of « recycling heritage buildings, » he explains. « We could have filled the old building with floors, wall-to-wall. But we felt that denied the opportunity of experiencing the volume of the old building as it was. » As a plant, the existing structure consisted of an open core that accommodated large machinery used to purify gas – an industrial process that created other challenges for Moxam and his team. The site was contaminated with metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. A decision was made early in the project to minimize excavation by using caisson foundations – and not building a basement – to simplify the environmental approvals process. A membrane covers the footprint of the building and the space below, which is equipped with a ventilation-exhaust system. Most of the in-ground substances remain in situ beneath this vented air barrier. Outside, the old building got a muchneeded facelift. The grey cementitious stucco that hid and damaged the original exterior brick facades was removed and the historic THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA ■ 37 ARCHITECT : STANTEC ARCHITECTURE/PHOTO : RICHARD JOHNSON, INTERIOR IMAGES www.raic.org/2008



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