Architecture Canada n°9 2nd semestre 2010
Architecture Canada n°9 2nd semestre 2010
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  • Parution : n°9 de 2nd semestre 2010

  • Périodicité : semestriel

  • Editeur : Naylor Canada

  • Format : (213 x 276) mm

  • Nombre de pages : 48

  • Taille du fichier PDF : 3,5 Mo

  • Dans ce numéro : l'excellence dans la conception des centres de justice.

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www.raic.org/2010 Contemporary Minimalism Renfrew County Courthouse ties Confederation to the 21st century in its design By Christopher Guly For architects, restoring existing buildings has always been one of the great design challenges. However, when buildings are prime community landmarks and have roots dating back to Confederation, the task is even more formidable – as was the case with the $23-million makeover of the Renfrew County Courthouse in the Eastern Ontario city of Pembroke. The restoration-and-extension project was both complex and collaborative. It required the consolidation of Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice from four locations into one building that incorporated a renovated national heritage cluster of three historic neoclassical buildings : a courthouse and jail, dating back to 1866, and a registry offi ce, only two years younger. Meanwhile, the project team was comprised of representatives from the Ontario Realty Corporation, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Pembroke’s police and courthouse staff, M. Sullivan and Son Ltd. (as general contractor), and a design team led by NORR Ltd. Architects & Engineers and which included Kingston, Ontario-based heritage consultant, André Scheinman. 32 ■ THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA Rather than try to replicate the look of the original courthouse or provide a clear-cut contrast between new and existing elements, the design group used traditional materials to create new forms that complement the heritage setting, said Mike Summers, MRAIC, a principal with NORR which specializes in courthouse design. As a result, the Renfrew County Courthouse, which began operating in the summer of 2007, features a new 4,485-square-metre, threelevel addition that occupies the north side of the site. It incorporates both the original PHOTO : STEVEN EVANS PHOTOGRAPHY
registry offi ce (now used as a law library) and major portions of the original jail, including most of the lower level where the cells have been kept for public viewing and where court fi les are stored. The orientation of the extension allows the heritage courthouse’s stone façade « to shine through » the new construction and maintain its prominence on the streetscape, says Summers. « The old courthouse is still seen as the prominent structure. The new construction complements it – it doesn’t try to mimic it. » As explained by David Clusiau, MRAIC, also a principal with NORR and the courthouse designer, the addition is wrapped around the historic courthouse to appear as two clearly, differentiated and contemporary wings set back on each side of the original stone structure, which features fi ve new courtrooms and an original second-level courtroom that has been restored for ceremonial purposes. Linking the old and the new buildings is a two-storey, east-west atrium accessed from the outside via a new entrance. The masonry walls of both the jail and the registry can be seen within the atrium and in two of the new courtrooms. Positioning the entrance west of the symmetrical heritage courthouse façade allows the new front door to be easily recognizable, both as a point of entry, and as the visual link between the new courtroom wing to the east and the lawyers’lounge, located in the old registry section, to the west. The placement of the main entrance also preserves the original heritage courthouse entrance for ceremonial functions. Clusiau describes the architectural expression given to the precinct’s newest addition as « contemporary minimalism, striking a balance between styles, old and new, to allow the heritage elements to quietly dominate the overall three-dimensional composition. » The restoration program not only stabilized the masonry but also restored its original monolithic look by matching the mortar colour to that of the stone. « Inside, the revitalized interior’s focal point is the atrium, which not only provides visual access to the original walls of the precinct’s heritage components, but also enriches the public circulation system by using the original masonry elements of the space as cornerstones, » says Clusiau. « The old courthouse is still seen as the prominent structure. The new construction complements it – it doesn’t try to mimic it. » Three steel-framedand glass-clad bridges cross the public atrium, giving the impression they are the only connections between the historic stone walls of the original buildings. Clusiau says this « lightness » is further reinforced by the use of open-riser stairs that « fl oat » within the space. But he explains that some structural changes to the historic courthouse were unnecessary. For instance, the more than century-old stonework was found to be « surprisingly sound. » And despite having had sub-code frost cover for more than two decades, both foundations and footings were found to be in good condition with little deterioration and no evidence of frost damage. The design team’s expertise at restoring historic grandeur while introducing new Contemporary Minimalism vitality to create the new courthouse has earned several awards, including an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects’Academy of Architecture for Justice, and two prizes this year from the Ontario Association of Architects : the Award of Design Excellence and the People’s Choice Award. ■ THE ROYAL ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF CANADA/L’INSTITUT ROYAL D’ARCHITECTURE DU CANADA ■ 33 PHOTOS : STEVEN EVANS PHOTOGRAPHY www.raic.org/2010



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