The Waterloo Region Consolidated Courthouse: a story in stone

Construction of the 446,000 square foot Waterloo Region Consolidated Courthouse in downtown Kitchener is expected to be finished later this month. The new $379-million, multi-storey building will consolidate Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice services in one facility (currently operating from three separate locations), and be built to LEED Silver standards.

The materials used on both the interior and exterior of the Courthouse form an integral part of the building’s image. Not only are the materials chosen for their durability, ease of maintenance and security, but they help define the courthouse as a major public institution that reflects the local landscape.

The stone walls around the public plaza and along Frederick Street are a limestone called Ledge Rock and interspersed with a darker variety of stone called Wiarton Black, to give the appearance of layers of sedimentary rock formation. To keep with LEED best practices, emphasis was placed on the selection of local materials, so the stone is from the escarpment and quarried in Owen Sound.

Within the building, more refined finishing treatments were used on the stone. Along the public corridors that serve the courtrooms, as well as in the waiting areas and the public counter areas, a horizontal pattern of honed limestone tiles was used with a single dark band of tile that is coordinated with the courtroom signage.

Prior to any stone being laid on the site, the stone masons constructed wall mock-ups to confirm the appropriate selection and detailing of the stone, as well as to select the colour and characteristics of the mortar joints. While much of the stone installation was fairly routine work for the masons, there were some challenges to overcome when installing the stone on the curved walls within the courthouse.  To avoid excess overhang on the inside corners, the stone lengths were shortened, resulting in a very regular, unnatural look.  To resolve this issue, the masons avoided placing similar-sized stones side-by-side. 

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