A restoration and renovation project for the Shops on Summerhill has been recognized with an award of merit from Heritage Toronto for maintaining the vision of the original building.
The Shops of Summerhill, a row of commercial heritage buildings located at 1095–1103 Yonge St., is known for its community mainstays such as the butcher shop and fishmonger.
The structures, part of the South Rosedale Heritage Conservation District, date back to 1892 and were given a heritage designation by city council in 2004.
In addition to restoring the buildings to maintain the heritage properties, there was also a contemporary addition to the rear.
The principal architect on the project, Christopher Borgal of Goldsmith, Borgal and Company, said he believes the project was awarded because it’s a prime example of combining old and new architecture successfully.
“It presents a lovely transition from something that was a bit run down to something that’s contemporary and fresh and allows the new and old to coexist,” he said.
The project took approximately five years and was challenging because they had to ensure the new addition did not dominate the structure.
“The new additions have to be proportioned and coloured and detailed in a manner that neither one upstages the other and creates a fresh new look at things,” Borgal said.
Audaxarchitecture, which served as the design architect, provided design advice for the building’s new components.
The company’s principal architect, Gianpiero Pugliese, said while working on a heritage property is difficult because there’s a fixed set of conditions, it also has its upsides.
“It creates great opportunities because most of those old buildings have great architectural features,” he said. “The trick is to highlight those and work with them, not against them.”
Part of the restoration work included removing paint and refreshing details such as the brick façade and chimney.
When designing the rear addition, Pugliese was careful to use similar materials so it won’t appear incongruous with the rest of the structure.
“We took a lot of traditional principles and adapted them to more contemporary design,” he said. “We’re kind of just building the way they used to build, but doing it today.”
A large part of the project was to include canopies, display areas and patios to create distinctly a pedestrian-oriented streetscape.
“For me the key is the urban design aspects and how to stimulate and enrich the pedestrian experience,” Pugliese said. “Knowing that it’s central (to the community), I wanted to ensure that it contributed to the experience of the public realm.”
The project was recognized under the William Greer Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship Category, which takes under consideration the craftsmanship, appropriateness of materials, use of conservation principles and finally how well the project meets current needs while maintaining the architectural integrity of the original building.
Pugliese said he was thrilled to be part of the project, not only because of the award, but because he was part of restoring what he sees as an important Toronto heritage piece.
“It was a really good experience,” he said. “We’re really proud because everyone put a lot of work into it.”
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