Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gladstone Sports and Health Centre part 2: major renos

In the previous post, I talked about the history of 18 Louisa, formerly St. Agnes Roman Catholic Seperate School.

The school, after a brief stint as the Ottawa Polonia Centre, was bought by some Table Tennis groups that have converted it into the Gladstone Sport and Health Centre. They've hired PCL Construction to completely renovate the building, inside and out, and are renting the third-floor offices to other non-profit groups like the one for which I work.

Today's post compares photos of the exterior of the building before, during, and after the renovations. Because it's a before-and-after post, it contains many more photos than my usual posts.

As I only discovered the building part-way through renovations, I've had to rely on other sources for photos predating the work, such as Bing maps' aerial view, above.

Google Street View, whose Ottawa photos are from Spring of 2009, offers a "historical" look of the building before renovations. If you click on any of the Google Street View images in this post, it will take you to that perspective in Google Street View (clicking on other photos will enlarge the photo). There are also photos in an album on the Ottawa Polonia website dating from when the site was a Polish community centre.

The former Catholic school's North wall had a glass brick window/wall on the stairway, an entrance with a canopy, orange flashing, and a brick cross embedded into the wall:

The canopy had been removed and cross was being removed in early April during my first visit:

If you look closely, you can still make out where the cross used to be. As this is no longer the primary entrance, the canopy has been permanently removed, but the glass bricks remain. Decorative squares of darker brick have been added to visually break up the large beige brick walls, and two north-facing windows were added to each of the former classrooms (seen here with plywood prior to the installation of the windows).

In the next Google Street View photo, we can see the West-facing wall of the former school. As you can also see in the aerial photo above, the eight-sectioned wall has different window treatments for the newer (nearer to the camera) and older sections of the building. The nearest four sections have glass brick windows along the entire length of the classrooms, where as the far sections in the original part of the building have brick between windows on either end of each section. As with the stairwell at the end of the building, orange flashing separates the floors.

This photo I took in early April shows the wall being overhauled. As with the previous incarnation, the nearest four sections have full windows. The blue material is part of the construction process.

And now, with most renovations complete, brown flashing has replaced the orange, and the windows have been replaced with a modern design--with glass brick retained on the first and second floors.

Continuing anticlockwise around the building, we see the same wall from the South-West corner. We can also see the South side building and the elevated gymnasium.

It's easier to see what wasn't there before when you compare the above image with the photo below, taken in May: two new south-facing windows on the third floor, and a new ground-floor entrance (which is now the entrance for the Dalhousie Food Cupboard, the subject of the upcoming post).

Looking straight on at the South end of the building, another thing missing is this old play structure. In this photo you can also see the style of the old windows and the old South exit.

This photo was taken at the end of July, and dumpsters and portable toilets have replaced the play structure for the construction (I don't know if a play structure will return, or who would be its intended audience). The new entranceway is wheelchair accessible. The office (formerly classroom) windows only open a small bit, instead of halfway. This is owing to a very sophisticated central HVAC system with individual controls in each room.

The exterior of the gymnasium hasn't changed (you can browse around in Google Street View if you really want to see 2009 photos of it), but it merits a mention for its peculiar style. It's a fairly small auditorium-style gymnasium, floating one storey up on concrete pillars. At the Bell Street end, an emergency exit on either side of the gym descends to the ground level. The brickwork forms a textured pattern on the walls.

The North-East corner of the lot is dominated by a parking lot, and isn't very notable except for the absence of...

...this large green utility cabinet. When fully occupied by offices, a training centre, and athlete dorms, the Gladstone Sports and Health Centre will require much more electricity than was used by a 1960's school.

When I visited in May, the mains were being connected to the building through the parking lot. (The utility cabinet would go in the corner at the far end of this photo)

In this Google Street View shot, you can see a good panorama of the building from Bell Street, with the gymnasium at left.

In early April, work was well underway, with windows being installed and the former classrooms being divided into their future functions (the light green block visible inside the third storey window opening is the elevator shaft). A steel girder box is being assembled behind the dumpster.

And in this photo from early August, the work is pretty much finished. This section of the building is still pretty nondescript.

The entrance to the parking lot was fairly unceremonial. Its one-lane driveway was sufficient for the vehicles of the school's staff, who would then take the narrow sidewalk along the fence to the North entrance.

Access to the parking lot is being brought up to modern standards, as seen in this photo from late July, including a pedestrian walkway. The trees on the site were all carefully preserved.

A wide brick path connects the sidewalk to the front entrance, and the driveway is paved, just a week after the previous photo was taken.

That steel girder box from a few photos up is actually the new main entrance and lobby, hence the improved pedestrian connection. Here in May it's under construction. You can also get a closer look at the window detail. The first-storey windows had yet to be removed, as they were removing asbestos from the ground floor at this point of the construction.

In late June, the lobby is mostly finished, as is the ground floor window. The parking lot and landscaping are still unfinished.

By the end of July, it's pretty much ready for the first tenant to move in. A new, two-lane entryway is paved. Since this photo was taken, a very long gate arm was installed, though it's kept in the open position until everyone gets settled in.

Tune in for Friday's post for some shots from the inside, both during and after construction. I'll also profile the Dalhousie Food Cupboard.

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