Located in the heart of Kingston's designated Heritage District in the downtown core, this was the site of one of the city's most prominent heritage battles. The original developer, who was from out-of-town, had proposed to demolish the existing building and build an architecturally uninspired shopping mall on the site, its face turned away from the street and focused on an interior pedestrian mall. Confronted with an unanticipated severe backlash from local citizens and civic officials alike, he hired our firm to redesign the proposal and give it some local character. Although the interiors were of badly decorated combustible construction, we suggested he save the historic facades of the building to embrace these facades from above and on the adjacent vacant portion of the lot, and allow the ground level retail spaces to open onto the street to revitalize rather than diminish our city's vibrant core area.
Tragically, while still in the design phase, a fire gutted much of the three buildings, and most of the remnants were forced to be demolished for safety reasons. About this time a prominent local developer purchased the property and hired us to carry on with our design goals. Having documented the historic facades as part of our original design we were able to shore-up what portions remained, salvage others and accurately re-build brick-by-brick two of the facades, even as excavation proceeded for a two level underground parking garage. The third facade was echoed in detailing on the new building.
Our design received enthusiastic support from the local media, citizens and politicians and the necessary approvals were quickly granted. Now complete, the building has filled in a long-time void in our main street fabric and provided a sense of continuity to the evolution of the heritage district.
65 Princess St., Kingston, Ontario
Frontenac Historic Foundation Award