BNKC Awarded Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award
Architecture and urban design firm BNKC has received a Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation for their restoration of the Walper Hotel in Kitchener.
The project involves an extensive exterior and interior restoration, renovation, and aesthetic enhancements. Much of the renovations comprise upgrades to meet health, and code & life safety compliance.
BNKC was hired as the base building and restoration architect, while Dubbeldam Architecture + Design, Jill Greaves Design and Dialogue 38 combined efforts to complete the property’s interior.
The interior renovations include a new lobby, reception, atrium, upgraded corridors, gathering space, public lounge, banquet / event hall, conference centre, meeting rooms, 150 suites, kitchen and dining room, as well as public and private washrooms.
The conservation and restoration work began in 2016, allowing it to reopen in 2018. The Walper now greets guests with 92 rooms that rival similar restored establishments in Toronto, and abroad.
Aspects of the conservation of the building’s heritage fabric included the restoration of the exterior canopy, roof refurbishment / cornice & dentils, the cornice that caps the top of the ground floor, exterior brick work and interior columns, paneling and mouldings.
Damaged full height wood trusses requiring remediation and shoring — due to indiscriminate renovations, older additions, and general wear and tear — supported the building’s roof. The flooring was offset by as much as 2” in places. Extensive localized truss, subflooring and structural repairs were needed to achieve acceptable conditions.
The challenge of fitting the piping and ductwork within the tight floorplates and mechanical routings without compromising suites or spaces was resolved by strategically setting ceiling heights of bathrooms and certain corridors to accommodate the additional equipment and routings, leaving roomier adjoining spaces.
The building, which was designated as a historic landmark under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1983, sits at the corner of King and Queen streets in the heart of Kitchener’s downtown.