Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener

Client Wilfrid Laurier University
Location 120 Diuke St W. Kitchener, Ontario
Contract Type Design-Build
Architect Cianfrone Architect Inc.

Project Details

This design-build project involved renovation and conversion of Kitchener’s 100-year-old St. Jerome’s High School into WLU’s Faculty of Social Work. The four-storey heritage building was the initial endeavour of the university’s downtown campus development plan.

The exterior has a heritage designation requirement to preserve the building’s appearance.

The Challenge

Within a tight timeline, Ball had to meet WLU’s functional goals with the least possible physical intervention. The old, neglected and damaged structure created dangers including potential building collapse.

The parking lot was built on rubble of an old swimming pool that had burnt down. Ball also had to remove hazardous materials such as asbestos and oil.

We were tasked with turning a damp basement with a stone foundation into a library and classrooms. We needed to reinforce and strengthen existing foundations and wood framing while repairing damaged and rotten structural elements.

In addition, the Faculty of Social Work had very specific layout requests that didn’t match the building’s original structural grid. Due to extenuating circumstances, design concepts changed throughout the life of the project.

The Ball Solution

Ball had a collaborative working history with WLU, and together we achieved an innovative design to meet the specific layout requirements.

To uphold the building’s original look, exterior masonry was re-pointed and restored flawlessly. Decorative features, windows and doors were refurbished to their original look using new materials, while inside materials were reused to maintain part of the building’s original interior feel. Renovations included the addition of new structural steel.

In the process of gutting the building, many structurally unsafe conditions were discovered. All were dealt with in a legal, safe and orderly manner to ensure no injuries.

Completed on time and on budget, this project achieved all of the city’s heritage requirements and WLU and Ball Construction were awarded the Mike Wagner Heritage Award.