The beautiful red brick industrial building next to the Grand River in Cambridge was built as a manufacturing facility for blacksmith forges in the late 1800s. In recent times, however, the three-storey building sat derelict and deteriorating.
Martin Simmons Sweers was brought aboard as the architect to oversee a renovation into 27 condo units, which would keep the original features and charm while creating a high-end, modern interior. Soaring 13’ to 15’ ceilings and plentiful light appeal to contemporary expectations and timeless and historic features – including original wood ceilings and in-suite sliding barn doors – were tastefully incorporated.
The site itself presented some challenges. A busy street passes close by the building making individual balconies overlooking the noisy roadway an impractical choice. Instead, MSS proposed a rooftop patio, perfect for hosting private or building-wide events. An unexpected site issue uncovered during design and construction was that a spring that ran beneath the building would have to be rerouted. Turning this potential problem into an asset, MSS used the spring to feed an eye-catching fountain in front of the building. Also, since the building site had shared street access with adjacent landowners, the design team worked with city planners and the neighbouring owners to facilitate easements, infrastructure cost sharing, and mutual access agreements. As part of this negotiation, MSS prepared detailed drawings that carefully illustrated the designed solutions for all potential issues arising from shared infrastructure, such as gas, electricity, sewage conveyance, and roads.