Track 6: INTEGRATING OLD AND NEW – BUILDINGS, DISTRICTS, and LANDSCAPES / Volet 6: Intégrer l’ancien et le nouveau – Immeubles, quartiers et paysages

The St-Sauveur steeple and Garth House façade reconstruction: Monument-making within the CHUM mega-project

Friday, October 13
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

The CHUM architectural program, situated in downtown Montréal, required the PPP proposal winner to reconstruct and integrate aspects of the preexisting heritage building which had been saved during demolition.
These elements were the St-Sauveur church steeple and two façades of Garth House. Five years prior to reconstruction, the limestone masonry and architectural artifacts had been dismantled and stored with care. The winning CHUM project proposed reinstating the original steeple with a reconstructed spire, as well reassembling two walls of Garth House within the hospital complex, along a public walkway.
Though a small part of the mega-hospital project, respecting heritage principles posed nonetheless multiple technical challenges. After numerous assessments and long debates, governmental authorities agreed to demolish the site. Despite the considerable value of some of the original structures, the church masonry was in very poor condition. Furthermore, the site required extensive excavation and adherence to strict Post-disaster building codes. In this context, reconstruction became an acceptable compromise allowing for the preservation of these valuable historical landmarks for Viger Square and St-Denis streetscape.
The reconstruction was approached with a conservation mindset. For example, the steeple masonry was rebuilt with a substrate backing. The location and configuration of the stones was scrupulously respected. The new bearing structure was adapted to follow the original masonry. The spire was subject to exhaustive research and detailed photographic analysis in order to accurately reflect the original structure which was destroyed by fire in 1923. As for Garth House, its remaining walls have been incorporated into the interior of the new public space. The juxtaposition of the two stone walls, in stark contrast with the contemporary elements, amplifies the powerful echo of the past, summoning the historically bourgeois nature of the Viger Square neighbourhood.
Do the Saint-Sauveur steeple and Garth House reconstructions constitute conservation projects? Engulfed by the new hospital, do they instead belong to a “façadism” architectural approach? In another way, is the reconstruction of these elements the architectural equivalent to erecting monuments, evoking what has been lost? After all, why are we so attached to stone? Is this type of reconstruction simply a romantic gesture, an attempt to buy peace of mind by maintaining a superficial connection to the past?
Now that the project is complete, what can we learn from this experience? Certainly we can criticize the compromise imposed by government and society. On the other hand, this reconstruction project provided the opportunity for masons and tinsmiths to practise their craft and mentor a new generation in heritage construction.

Learning Objectives:

Daniel Durand, MOAQ, CAHP, APTI

architecte
DFS Inc. architecture & design

Daniel Durand, 31-year member of the Québec Association of Architects (OAQ), has worked with DFS Inc. architecture and design firm since 2008. Educated as both technician and architect with 36 years of experience, he specializes in heritage research, building restoration and envelope preservation. Daniel is experienced in needs analysis, architectural programming, project supervision, value analysis and land surveying. Accomplished in restoration, the construction of new buildings and envelope preservation of both historic and modern structures, he demonstrates versatility in acquired expertise. His work has received recognition by the CAHP and the North American Copper in Architecture.

Presentation(s):

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Stephen Robinson, MA, CAHP

Senior Heritage Planner
City of Guelph

Stephen Robinson holds an MA in Art & Architectural History (Concordia University), a Certificate in Heritage Planning (University of Waterloo) and is a CAHP professional member with many years of experience as a heritage planner and consultant in the public and private realms. Stephen has been the Senior Heritage Planner at the City of Guelph since 2009 providing research, policy and technical advice relating to the conservation of cultural heritage resources in the development application process. Stephen maintains the City of Guelph’s Municipal Register of Cultural Heritage Properties, manages the heritage review and heritage permit application processes and is the staff liaison to Heritage Guelph the City’s municipal heritage committee. Before settling in Guelph, Stephen was the Cultural Heritage Coordinator at the City of Vaughan and a co-author of the City of Brantford’s Heritage Inventory.

Presentation(s):

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