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Showing posts from August, 2019

The Challenge of Change: The Reliable Service Station

Change is a challenging but inevitable fact of life. In a rapidly transforming world, adapting is the only means of remaining relevant. For heritage buildings, that means walking a fine line between conserving the past while constantly reinventing themselves to remain functional and vibrant. The building known to many Winnipeggers as the former Reliable Service Station at 98 Albert Street, is no stranger to this kind of evolution. Once a small, oddly shaped commercial building, over 100 years later it had become Bodegoes, a hip restaurant and patio in the lively Exchange District National Historic Site. In 2019 the building is undergoing a rather dramatic change, being demolished and replaced with a much larger modern structure. It is a change that has sparked a passionate debate as to how built heritage should be sensitively conserved and redeveloped.

Winnipeg in the late 19th century was a city flush with prosperity due to the arrival of the transcontinental railway. The Exchange Di…

The Making of a Memorable Millennium: The Canadian Bank of Commerce

Grandiose is the word that best describes the Canadian Bank of Commerce, now known as the Millennium Center. Although it rises only six storeys above the sidewalk, a person standing in front of the building cannot help but feel its dominating presence. An early 20th century bank reborn as a 21st century event space, it is a monument to the power of the people who refused to let their heritage be demolished. Having been a bank for nearly six decades before a tumultuous transition into an event space, those entrusted with its care are looking to build on what started as a millennium project, rejuvenating the heritage building through adaptive reuse to ensure its viability of the next 100 years.

By 1883, only a decade after Winnipeg was incorporated as a city, "Bankers' Row" had been firmly established on the east side of Main Street, just north of Portage Avenue. It has been suggested that the east side of Main Street was preferable as it was the same side as the post offi…

A Creative Construction Conversion: The Gregg Building

The Gregg Building is a Romanesque warehouse located at 52 Albert Street in the Exchange District. It was built in 1902 for the George R. Gregg and Company, the largest company in Canada to sell Japanese Silks and other oriental luxury goods in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Geo. R. Gregg & Co. went out of business in the mid 1950s after which the building housed a few other tenants till the mid-2000s. In 1986 the City of Winnipeg designated it as an historical resource, protecting character defining elements from alteration and the building from demolition. The building unfortunately sat empty for over a decade until Knysh Construction recently purchased the building with the intention of redeveloping it into commercial and residential space.

The Gregg Building has a beauty that comes chiefly from its simple, unadorned style. Robust blocks of rough cut limestone create a solid foundation that lines the bottom of the fa├žade. Courses of brick rise in colum…