Old Cambridge Post Office To Be A Repurposed Modern Public Facility & Architectural Showpiece

By: KwNow! Local News
| Published 07/12/2014


Old Post Office Repurpose Concept Brilliant And Bold Vision Of The Future

Libraries And Galleries Reinvent Their Purpose & Community Place

Cambridge, Ontario - When it comes to reinventing itself and incorporating the old and the new, Cambridge has demonstrated long term vision along with historical and cultural respect. First with the modernization of the Hespeler Library; then with incorporating the new public square and city hall in with the historical city hall.

Now the city's attention is focused on redefining the "bibliotheque" * and its place in the future of educating, learning and a centre for artistic expression. The old Galt Post Office is about to define a new beginning and exciting future both culturally and architecturally.

This week, city residents had an opportunity to ask questions and provide input into the schematic design for the Restoration at the Old Post Office project during a public meeting on Thursday.

Members of the community in attendance posed questions about the amount of the space for the library versus restaurant operations, the number of books on site, and plans for additional parking.

Greg Hayton, retired CEO of the library and now a consultant, commented that the building will offer a variety of learning resources and space for the community, not just books, to meet the needs of future demand.

The design concept unveiled by RDH Architects features glassed-in additions on the north and south ends of the building to provide accessible entrances. While respecting the buildings historic designation, the conceptual design proposed both restoration and adaptive re-use to account for a variety of multi-use community space with panoramic views of the city. A glass enclosed addition at the rear is being proposed to cantilever over the Grand River.

The reaction to the preliminary conceptual designs were positive with requests for additional information on how the building envelope will be preserved, parking and additional space being added to the original building.

“The questions we heard today are precisely what these public meetings are all about,” said Mayor Doug Craig.

“Within the constraints we have relating to planned uses, the footprint of the property and, of course money, we will incorporate the public’s views into the development plans to create a facility that serves the community well and instils civic pride,” he added.

“The input we gather from the public is invaluable to ensure that this important project meets the expectations of the public. We will look at that feedback when Council discusses the schematic designs on July 14 and advise the architects accordingly,” said CAO Gary Dyke.

The schematic design is the first step toward the repurposing of the 129-year-old building into a modern community library and resource centre that will include: a teen-managed space in the basement; a reading area; an outdoor terrace overlooking the Grand River; a restaurant on the main floor; a family discovery centre; an outdoor terrace on the second floor; and digital learning labs and a workshop on the third floor.

Originally the Galt Post Office, a two-and-a-half storey stone building on the east side of the Grand River at 12 ½ Water Street, it was designed by Thomas Fuller and constructed in 1885. Fuller was the Chief Dominion Architect and had a hand in the design of every major federal building from 1881 to 1896.

The Water Street building has been designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and was named as a National Historic Site, both in 1982.

* Bibliotheque or library, is an organized collection of information resources made accessible to a defined community for reference or borrowing. It provides physical or digital access to material, and may be a physical building or room, or a virtual space, or both.

Rethinking The Future Of Cambridge And The Old Post Office

Old Post Office Galt, new library and learning centre,cambridge now media

New Hespeler Library

Cambridge City Hall & Historic City Hall