“THE REGION OF WATERLOO IS ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC REGIONS IN CANADA, AND CAMBRIDGE’S ECONOMIC PROSPERITY, ATTITUDE TOWARDS COMMUNITY BUILDING, AND POLITICAL AND COMMUNITY BACKGROUND COMES TOGETHER TO MAKE THE PERFECT STORM FOR THIS KIND OF DEVELOPMENT.”
A LOCATION LIKE NO OTHER
“People don’t know there’s this jewel that’s just an hour’s drive from Toronto, Hamilton or London, Cambridge is a spectacular river city.”
A hundred years ago, the Grand River wasn’t valued for it’s natural beauty as it is today. Instead, its power was harnessed to move mills while its constant flow flushed out industrial and farming run-off. But today, the Grand River, which snakes its way through Preston, Galt and Hespeler, has become synonymous with the city’s charm.
With a nod to the town’s history and a focus on the future, MartinSimmons Architects Inc. is excited to be playing a role in the Gaslight District development.
MartinSimmons Architects Inc. has built a reputation as a leader in the restoration and redevelopment of heritage sites, including their extensive redevelopment of the Google building in Kitchener. “It’s great that we’ve been asked to be a part of The Gaslight District project, and to get the opportunity to breathe life back into these architecturally stunning buildings,” says Patrick.
Originally built as factories, the Southworks site has been used as an antique market and outlet mall. “What other town has a treasure of a building complex that’s so perfectly suited to this kind of development? You’d have to look far and wide to see an old heritage industrial building of this quality and size to be used like this.”
Patrick’s team is committed to stripping away the layer of late 20th century use to expose as much of the original character as possible. “We’re going to be adding and restoring parts of these buildings to help let people appreciate them both for what they were and for what they will offer them,” he continues. “The existing buildings have a great feel and vibe – including exposed stone and large windows. Our goal is to reinforce these features, not detract from them. We won’t try to emulate the old features, but rather will use modern elements to draw attention to the historic beauty.”
Beyond the challenges and opportunities this project presents, Patrick has a personal interest in seeing The Gaslight District come to life: the impact it will have on his hometown. For the past 25 years he’s called Galt home – raising his family in an 1868 stone house and renovating and owning a 10 unit multi-use building (a converted stone mill, the oldest in the city) not far from the development site. “This means so much for our city – it’s a boost of confidence,” he says. “The Gaslight District says we have the vision, commitment, and economic and political power to take on a project of this magnitude. It’s going to be great.”