Building Revival Uncovers Hints of Flooring History

By Drew Hauser

At times, interior demolition of Westinghouse HQ and the new mcCallumSather offices on the second floor felt more like an archeological dig and a passion project for the designers. Guided by a rich photographic record hinting at what could be uncovered through 20 years of purely pragmatic renovation, mcCallumSather, together with its construction partners, peeled back the finishes to uncover many of the building’s historical features. (The exterior was protected by a heritage designation but the interior had no similar status.) The restoration of the hidden gems tells the story of the 1917-built Prack and Perrine-designed building. This included intricate plaster mouldings; structural clay tiles (or speed tiles, as they were commonly called in the 1900s); hand-laid, intricately detailed terrazzo and marble tile that line the hallways and former boardroom areas; original maple wood flooring in the hidden theatre at the west end of the building; and the outline of a large fireplace in the former Westinghouse president’s private office now mcCallumSather’s collaborative design centre and gathering space.

Gigantic steel trusses on the second floor.

On the second floor, one of the most distinctive features is a set of black steel trusses that hold up the expansive historic theatre space on the first floor. The design team immediately saw their potential, leaving them exposed and incorporating them into the layout, protected by an intumescent paint to increase their fire rating.

The 10,000-square-foot rectangular layout was organized into zones with both quiet and collaborative areas, and dynamic breakout areas scattered throughout. Acoustic panels were installed on the ceilings and as wall coverings in strategic zones to control noise, which is vital to make an open working environment successful.

mcCallumSather’s office is organized in zones. Two-thirds of the flooring is original finishes. Photo courtesy Banko Media.

Almost two-thirds of the flooring in the workspace are original finishes, while the remainder is covered by an interlocking carpet flooring system for added acoustic control and comfort. The carpet is designed with lower face weights and high recycled content in both the fibre and backing. With no latex backing, it contains zero calculated volatile organic compounds.

The workspace was recognized with an Award of Merit in 2019, by the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario, and an Ontario Green Building Award for tenant improvement that same year, presented by the Canada Green Building Council. In 2020, Westinghouse HQ won Architectural Conservancy Ontario’s coveted Peter Stokes Restoration Award and National Trust for Canada’s Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award.

Drew Hauser is director of design and business development at mcCallumSather. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the multi-disciplinary, integrated design firm based in Hamilton, Ont., has a clear purpose — the design of a more resilient world through the advancement of sustainable design intelligence. Drew can be reached at [email protected].

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