Old Quebec Street

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Old Quebec Street

The Eaton Mall in downtown Guelph was originally built in 1982/83 with Eaton’s as the anchor tenant. With the demise of the Eaton’s franchise, the remaining retail shops saw a reduction in traffic within the mall. The City of Guelph purchased the mall and demolished the old Eaton’s store (approximately 100,000sf) to build a downtown hockey arena. With the common area space exceeding the economic ratio to leasable retail space and downtown shopping superseded by suburban malls and power centres, it was left to private developers to solve the problem of the downtown Eaton Mall. With approximately 130,000sf remaining, Kiwi Newton and partners worked with Roth Knibb Architects to come up with the best way to reorganize and reenergize the space inside the mall. The primary idea was to convert the space from a mall to the feel of an indoor streetscape. Kiwi Newton hired the entire consulting team once concepts were worked out and put together details for building.

Using a budget of $8.5 million, the front was rebuilt to lose the stigma of the Eaton Centre and a new cut stone and glass façade was installed with a steeply pitched gable roof with skylights installed into the roof down the entire center of the mall. The second floor common space was surgically removed to open up the lower level indoor streetscape. The ground floor was left as shops while the upstairs was converted to doctor offices, clinics, labs other medical and health care uses and courthouse space. The indoor street was made relevant by putting facades on the face of all shops and offices above which appear like traditional streetscapes in Guelph with the use of split limestone and brick facade work. Traditional wood windows and storefronts were installed to provide an old European feel. The project was completed while keeping part of the mall open.

Upper level retail areas were converted into office space and now house the Ontario Provincial Offences Courthouse, approximately 14 general practitioner doctors, a renal clinic, a medical lab, x-ray laboratories and other businesses. Retail spaces were retained on the lower level.

The new gable steep pitched gable shaped linear skylight was installed over the indoor street length with automatic opening skylights. The skylight gives the property a bright airy feeling and the opening skylight does an excellent job of conditioning the air so there is never a time (even in the hot summer) that the building feels too hot. This heating and cooling system provides large savings in energy and of course greenhouse gases. All of the common space was previously air conditioned however it was removed during the renovation. The skylight opens when the temperature inside and out is hot but will automatically close if it rains.

Winter heating is achieved with a hydronic in floor heating system placed within the polished concrete floor of the street. Temperatures are purposefully kept on the low side in the winter so shoppers can keep their coats on when entering from outside to the indoor street. The stores have traditional storefronts made of wood frames and glass in some cases using divided lights. All of the storefronts were modeled from photographs of the old part of Quebec City.

The end product, designed and built in the space of 12 to 14 months, is home to approximately 55,000sf of medical, institutional and office space upstairs and approximately 55,000sf of retail specialty store space on the street level.

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