Diamond Schmitt wins urban design award

Diamond Schmitt Architects repurposes old department store in London, Ont., into an urban campus. Photo courtesy Diamond Schmitt Architects
Diamond Schmitt Architects repurposes old department store in London, Ont., into an urban campus.
Photo courtesy Diamond Schmitt Architects

Diamond Schmitt Architects has won an Award of Excellence in Urban Design for Adaptive Re-use by the City of London for transforming a late 19th-century department store in London, Ont., into a multi-disciplinary centre of learning for Fanshawe College.

The award was presented to Diamond Schmitt and associate Phil Agar Architect, with ERA Architects as heritage consultants.

The City of London said the awards are a “chance to recognize and celebrate original design, innovative concepts, and visionary thinking in the field of urban planning.”

The former Kingsmill’s Department Store was a fixture of city life in downtown London. This tradition continues in an urban campus with the new 10,600-m2 (114,000-sf) building.

The seven-storey structure includes a setback three-storey addition above a terrace on top of the original building. Colourful metal panels and varying densities of frit on the glazing enliven the new façade. The building retains its street character by preserving the stone façade and awning while the adjacent red brick annex was dismantled and rebuilt using the heritage brick.

A student-run restaurant animates the ground floor, which also features a two-storey biofilter living wall, amphitheatre seating, and an open corridor. Other original features incorporated in the design include reclaimed wood joists, a tin ceiling, and locally made yellow brick.

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