63-year-old façade gets a makeover and new lease on life

Bird Construction is the general contractor for the 61-storey, 525-unit mixed-use new 88 Scott Condominiums, located in downtown Toronto, Ontario. 

As Originally Seen in the Daily Commercial News www.dailycommercialnews.com : 



At 88 Scott St. in downtown Toronto developer Concert Properties has taken the concept up a notch with the deconstruction of the Royal Sun Alliance Insurance building at 10 Wellington St. E, removing 120,000 square feet of limestone and granite façade for cleaning and restoration.

The thick limestone façade has been carefully dismantled and five of the seven storeys are being stored, ready to be reinstalled, when the condo rises in a couple of years.

It will then return to clad a five storey base with retail and commercial space below the 53 storeys of condos. It will also frame the abundant public space and art exhibits in what will be the atrium of the new structure.

The building isn't of great or sensitive architectural importance but it is a link to Toronto's past and an example of the Classic Style of design from the era. The original 1951 building was five storeys with two more storeys added in the 1980s. It also has a Heritage Toronto plaque which will also be restored and remounted noting the lineage of the site.

However, the developer also recognized that the neighbouring buildings are heritage structures and that to insert something completely modern would look out of place.

They include the Bank of British North America (1873) at 49 Yonge St. and a warehouse dating from 1847. There's also the King Edward Hotel and other storefront façades from the 1800s.

The development will also inject substantial funds into the redevelopment of Berczy Park, at Wellington and Front from Scott St. to the historic Gooderham Flatiron building. The park will be redesigned with a European style piazza with rococo-style pavement integrated with paving stone sidewalks.

Joseph Grassia, a senior construction manager with Concert, said the process was a challenge because the walls are 16 inches thick embedded in concrete which has been curing for 60 years.

"And there are a lot of them and they're all different," he said. "The ones with the vertical fluting are the largest but they do vary in length and height and thickness."

Crews first catalogued, photographed and sketched the pieces and then started taking them down in August, 2013, wrapping up that process four months later.

There was some testing on site to confirm the structural integrity of the limestone and granite and everything went without a hitch, he said.



"They're all in a yard now, the last ones to come down will be the first ones to go back up again," he said. "It's a complex and expensive way to do it but better than leaving them in place which really wouldn't be safe on a job like this."

The pieces will be thinned down to comply with modern day building envelope technology, he said and there will be some tweaks on corners and around window openings since the ground floor windows will now extend all the way down.

Concert hired Stephenson Engineering to handle the façade aspect of the project alone and the company is designing structural support system, wall assembly, specifications, and construction methodologies.

Arran Brannigan, vice president of operations at Limen Group Ltd. specialists in masonry restoration and preservation in North Toronto said the biggest challenge with 88 Scott was the tight site. It is right in the city core on older, narrow streets so getting a crane in and materials out was difficult.

"Also that stone is Queenston limestone which isn't available anymore so we had to be really careful not to break anything," he said.

Deconstruction was a success and the stones have been catalogued and stored and will be sent to a cutting shop to be thinned down.

"We'll be cutting them down to 100 mm (approximately four inches) from 16 inches to use as a veneer," he said. "We have to cut the granite too for the base and that's a much harder stone to cut."

Cleaning will be done with light pressure water and environmentally cleaners, Brannigan added.

"Then it all goes back in place, hopefully around 2016," he said. "We won't have to do anything more to it. The stone is millions of years old and a few decades in Toronto have not affected it at all."

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