Friday, January 7, 2011

80 Florence - Chinese Community Building, part 2

This is the second post of three covering the renovations to the Chinese Community Building at 80 Florence (at Kent). In the previous post, I gave some background on the building and the site, and showed photos of the progress of work on the eight-storey tower part of the building, shown below in April 2010. Today I'll be discussing the details of the lower part of the apartment building.

On Kent Street, mid-block to Gladstone, the building steps down to what used to be a gymnasium, but is being converted to miscellaneous commercial uses. By the brickwork in this late-August 2010 photo, you can see that the upper levels are already pretty far along.

Moving around the corner, we can see the semicircular archways around the entrance walkway. There's a ramp at the corner, but unfortunately a three-inch lip at the top of the ramp (not visible in this photo) prevents it from being functional for wheelchair users. There is a City-owned tree on the bulbout on Kent street, and a bench and some landscaping near the building, which requires some imagination to see in this snowy December 2009 photo.

Continuing around the building, in November 2009, the landscaping is a bit easier to see. Wooden retainer walls create greening opportunities. A terrace steps up to the side access of the building, flanked by two trees.

At the back of the building, a three-storey section extends to the property line. In this photo, it is already in its new skin; there are other photos of this part of the building in the previous post.

The work began in April to remove the landscaping from around the building, to get better access to the building envelope and to allow safe erection of the scaffolding.

They've also removed the landscaping by the gymnasium.

On the front of the building, two new utility meters appeared in June. You can also tell that the brick on the ground level is different from the upper part of the building. I wonder if maybe it was retro-fitted at some point, possibly for landscaping or the addition of the ramp. It could simply be a different brick used for the entranceway in the original construction.

Less than two weeks after the previous photo was taken, a temporary ramp had been installed coming off one of the archways that had previously been blocked by landscaping and a railing. This provided an alternate access while the main stairs were renovated, and the first real wheelchair access to the building.

The entryway became engulfed in scaffolding, which doubled as a location for the project participants to display their members. Dynar architect & associates, Cleland Jardine structural engineers, James Lennox & Associates landscape architects, and Everest Engineering mechanical and electrical, all led by project manager the Regional Group.

Looking right from the entrance stairways, we see the brickwork being removed around the old arched windows.

On the left, brickwork is partly removed from the outer and inner walls.

The new bricks are a yellow-brown colour, which will brighten up the building, and fit in well with the former First United Church (now Chinese Canadian Heritage Centre) on the opposite corner, and the Centropolis condos about to begin construction across the street on the Main Garage/Stinson & Son site at Gladstone and Kent.

Inside the walkway, we see an insulating layer being built on the wall abutting the actual building. On the ceiling of the walkway is some type of spray-foam that is partly removed.

Back on the outside, the brickwork is mostly finished at ground level.

The former archways were rebuilt square, and a brick ledge was built up a few levels, instead of the archway going all the way to the ground with a railing in the former arrangement.

That's a sneak-peek of the new look. Stay tuned for the third and last post in the series for the big reveal!

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