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Merging heritage buildings into new designs

Bryan Tuckey –President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) talks about the use of heritage buildings in new projects around the city.

Across the GTA existing neighbourhoods are evolving and more heritage buildings are being integrated into new developments as we build to the Province’s intensification policies.

Developers work to determine how a heritage structure will become a feature of a new development while working closely with municipal heritage staff to ensure preservation laws are followed.

Municipalities can designate a building as a structure of heritage value provided that it meets one or more criteria as outlined in the Ontario Heritage Act.

The redevelopment of a heritage property can take on many forms and the developer will need to consider different methods such as adaptive reuse or restoration in order to determine how best to integrate a structure. A successful project involves the collaboration and expertise of developers, consultants and contractors that are familiar with the complexities of merging historic buildings into new designs.

Adaptive reuse is when a historic building is modified so that it can be used for a new purpose, such as an abandoned factory becoming the main floor of a new condo tower. Its features are either enhanced and/or changed to fit the new design.

Building restoration is when a structure of historic value is restored so that it looks like it did when originally constructed.

An example of an adaptive reuse project is Hullmark Developments’ 60 Atlantic located in the heart of Liberty Village. Working with Quadrangle Architects, Hullmark transformed a 1898 warehouse into a new 43,000 square-foot mixed-use commercial development. Retail space was added at street level and offices and studios were constructed on the upper floors. The building was restored and increased in size to include a glass addition linking all floors and a sunken outdoor courtyard to house a restaurant and patio area.

Transforming the structure included removing elements such as walls, enhancing the heavy wooden beams, restoring ceilings, floor plates and windows, and stripping the original beige brick walls and adding grey bricks for contrast.

The old Carrville Post Office and General Store in Vaughan is a great example of a restoration project. The Remington Group brought the 1845 structure back to life by restoring its exterior to its original form. The building now serves as a gluten-free vegan bakery in the centre of the village of Carrville.

The historic Waterworks site at 505 Richmond Street West is another adaptive reuse project that is currently underway. It was formerly a City of Toronto’s Water Works facility and dates back to 1837. The massive building and garage are being transformed by MOD Developments into a new 13-storey residential and commercial development with 290 boutique condos, a rooftop garden, a YMCA and

a European-style food hall at its centre where vendors and restaurants will offer the public foods from around the world.


Bryan Tuckey is President and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and is a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments. He can be found on Twitter (, Facebook ( and BILD’s official online blog (



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