Monthly Archives: October 2015

PEDrides Spotlight: Mills Hardware

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Mills Hardware is an adaptive-reuse project that was completed by Thier + Curran Architects in 2013 at a cost of nearly four million dollars. Dating back to 1925, the building went through a lot of changes. From hardware store, to strip club, to now arts centre.

It boasts a multi-purpose gallery, event space, eight artist studios, a meeting room, and twelve loft apartments.

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The building has seen much transformation inside. Before work was done, the second floor was replaced by a mezzanine and has since been removed for a two-storey ground floor. The event space is 1800 square feet and is multi-purpose. A portal like metal threshold complete with railings and slat benches, crafted in a raw, industrious manner, extends across the room and separates the event space from the entrance. The space also includes a bar to the east side. Walls are exposed, pipes are showing, and the character of the building can be read in its walls.

Behind the event space are four, two storey studios. The studios include celestial lighting and metal doors displaying inspirational quotes from famous artists. The size of the studios ranges from 400-500 square feet.

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The exterior is a complimentary mixture of old and new. The original masonry at the front of the building was restored, with new large picture windows installed. At street level, the curtain wall is angular and inverted from the street. It draws the passerby in and invokes curiosity. Metal panels playfully angle down from the glass and into the ground, and a large pivoting Brazilian wood door welcomes guests into the event space.

Above the ground floor are twelve artist’s lofts ranging from 500-to-700 square feet. The apartments are equipped with light parquet wood floors, wood trim, and stylish kitchen spaces. Some of the units include exposed walls and wood ceilings with original steel columns and beams. The common areas carry the motifs that exist throughout the building, like super graphics, bright colours, industrial lighting, and exposed brick. Another unique feature of the old building is a mailbox and bulletin board installed into a display wall that surrounds an old safe.

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The rear of the building includes more restored brick, a corrugated steel clad third floor, and glass block windows. Stylish, preserved, and re-used, Mills Hardware is a catalyst for adaptive re-use in the core and has become an anchor of inspiration and place making on King Street.

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On Sunday I had the opportunity to lead a PedRides bicycle tour on contemporary architecture in the core. The focus of my tour was on adaptive-reuse and restoration, as well as new builds.

I started the tour with a quote from one of the great architectural theorists, Rem Koolhaas. He said, “Preservation is overtaking us.” His theory is as the year’s progress, preservation is becoming more prevalent. It’s being approached proactively instead of retroactively and contemporary architecture plays an important role in regards to a buildings future form and function.

The route was very ad-hoc and the buildings I discussed varied. I didn’t cover everything I wanted because I was under the weather and new to giving tours. When it comes to tours, I’m generally more comfortable in a double-decker bus listening to some overly enthusiastic guide rattle off the same information all day to a bunch of snap-happy tourists.

The ride was fun, the people were great, and it was in the city I love. What more could you ask for? I would gladly do it again.

I will be posting articles about each building in the same order as the tour (except for Witton Lofts, as I’ve already written about it). First up is Mills Hardware. Stay tuned!

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