From Globe Real Estate:
Play called for renos at Maple Leaf Gardens
BBB Architects accepts makeover challenge – complete with a new ice rink two floors up from street level
Published on Monday, Mar. 08, 2010 8:00PM EST
Last updated on Tuesday, Mar. 09, 2010 9:46AM EST
Getting the makeover at Maple Leaf Gardens just right might not be as difficult as winning the Stanley Cup, but neither is it going to be easy. Built in 1931, the iconic Toronto building is more than a place. It's an authentic link to the past.
The challenge, then, is to reinvent the downtown property – creating a new ice surface, for instance, two levels above the street – for new generations of users while remaining true to the building's roots. A unique set of partners is digging deep to do just that.
When completed in 2011, the building will reopen as the Ryerson University Sports and Recreation Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens, with a rink and athletic centre for the downtown campus and a 70,000-square-foot supermarket for Loblaw Cos. Ltd.
Each partner will own its portion of the building – making the university and the private business like linemates on a new kind of team. (Ryerson's portion will mainly be for students, but there are plans to also make it accessible to the community.) Ottawa is contributing $20-million to the project through its infrastructure stimulus fund, Ryerson will raise $20-million from student fees, and the final $20-million will be raised by Ryerson and Loblaw through a joint fund-raising campaign, including a $5-million contribution from the grocery giant.
A basement will be dug below the original building for a new level of parking and then a ground-floor supermarket and a second-floor Joe Fresh store will be built.
Meanwhile, Ryerson last week chose sports and entertainment facility leaders BBB Architects of Toronto to refashion the sporting part of the Gardens. BBB is working on a several hundred million renovation of Madison Square Garden in New York, where the ice rink slab is five floors above 8th Avenue.
“Everyone probably has at least one distinct memory of attending an event at Maple Leaf Gardens,” says architect Chris O'Reilly, one of four partners at BBB, who attended his first NHL hockey game there as a child in the early 70s. “I had never been in such a large room with so many people before. The mood was electric. I remember being quite fascinated with the volume and height of the domed ceiling high above the ice surface. I am sure I spent an equal amount of time examining the structure of the building above as I did the hockey action on the ice below.”
It's a good thing he did. Property Report asked Mr. O'Reilly to explain the challenges of the job.
The main entrance will be located beneath a restored canopy on Carlton Street. The open-concept, double-height lobby will house a grand staircase, escalator and elevators to transport people to the floors above.
The space may include a vertical digital wall to display historical images of the building and its events. Ryerson's Digital Media Zone students are exploring new technologies that may be worked into the design.
Ryerson students will enter their secure premises one level above the street. We are in the process of developing a detailed space program with Ryerson, however the main areas on this floor will be a double gym for basketball and volleyball with seating for 1,000, along with a recreation court, high-performance training gym, multiuse fitness rooms, locker rooms, juice café and student lounge area.
The next level up will accommodate the new ice rink floor with associated change rooms, ice refrigeration plant and resurfacing machine room, along with some classroom and multi-purpose room space. People attending an event in the new arena will enter at rink level, or continue to the uppermost level by escalator to the new arena seating bowl beneath the dome roof.
Public concourses at the west and east sides of the bowl will provide circulation area, direct access to the seating areas, washrooms (no troughs) and food and beverage kiosks. An alumni lounge is proposed to stretch across the north edge of the seating bowl. The arena space will be used for Ryerson hockey, basketball and volleyball games, exam writing, convocation ceremonies and other university functions.
One of the more challenging requirements of this project is building an ice rink slab two floors above street level. The technology of an elevated ice slab is not new, but special attention must be given to the detailing and waterproofing, to avoid leakage into finished areas below. The new rink will be NHL size – 85 feet by 200 feet. A refrigeration plant at this level will pump a cold brine solution through a network of pipes, cast within the rink slab, to cool its surface. As water is applied to the surface of the concrete, thin layers are built up to an overall thickness of about 1 to 11/2 inches of ice.
The concrete rink slab can be likened more to a piece of mechanical equipment than to part of the building structure. The slab will play no part in supporting the building. Instead, the six-inch-thick slab will rest on a composition of insulation, poly slip sheet and sand bed on a structural floor supported by a gridwork of columns to be constructed within the existing building envelope.
The ice resurfacing machine will also be kept here for ease of access to the ice surface. If it needs repairs, it can be taken down in a large freight elevator.
Ice was last made at the Gardens in November for CBC's Battle of the Blades , above.
The cathedral-like dome roof is being retained and will be a dominant feature of the interior. The dome is supported at its base by a rectangular configuration of twenty-foot-deep steel trusses. These trusses and dome were obviously quite high in relation to the original ice surface and seating areas of Maple Leaf Gardens. With the new raised ice floor configuration, the new concourse floor and seating bowl will be immediately beneath the large truss, and much closer to the dome ceiling.
The interior of the dome is being stripped of the unsightly acoustic baffles that hung there. The existing catwalks throughout the underside of the dome are still intact and will be maintained.
The energy efficiency of the building envelope will be improved with new insulation and windows, and the external surface of the dome will receive a new cladding. We will utilize as many existing window openings possible at all levels of the Ryerson space to allow natural light to penetrate. Ryerson is considering retaining the existing scoreboard, but with updated technology designed by Digital Media Zone students.
BBB is developing a seating layout based on the concept of the lower bowl of the original Gardens. A degree of authenticity is planned in a variety of areas where possible. Some distinctive features are the “rail seats” immediately around the rink boards, and the gold “box seating” areas, which were defined by half walls around the perimeter.
Some of the original seats are in storage, but we have yet to assess their physical size and condition to determine whether some will be reused. Many of the original seats were quite snug, to say the least, with restricted legroom, which we don't intend on re-creating. The new layout will conform to modern building code requirements. Perhaps one designated section of the new seating bowl might contain original chairs. We will also consider the application of the original gold, red and blue colour scheme of the original lower bowl, of which the gold and blue coincide with the Ryerson colours.
The large lamp housings that were suspended above the original ice rink may be reused – with new, more efficient lamp technology – to illuminate the rink.