Club 357c: Behind the Scenes of an Ambitious Restoration Project
February 15, 2016 / Posted by Heritage Montreal - Collaborator Oliver Marshall
Giving a hundred-year-old staple of a building a second life is not an easy task… Restoration work proved to be even more difficult when a fire broke out during a major operation. However, an architecture firm by the name of EVOQ, formerly FGMDA, took up this challenge and transformed the old Harbour Commission Building into the prestigious Club 357c. Renowned architect John Diodati was tasked with restoring the building envelope, and now takes us behind the scenes of this ambitious project, which turned out to be quite the success!
An Architectural Phoenix
The building lodging the Club 357c since 2002 was built between 1874 and 1878, and showed many serious signs of structural deterioration when it was decided that restoration work would be done. “The owner loved the building, and wanted to give it a new life. He wanted to restore it for the sake of preserving a staple of Old Montreal for many, many years to come”, says Diodati. Shortly after the work began, the worst possible thing happened when part of the building was ravaged by a fire, which proved to be one of the main conservation challenges that the transformation of this emblem of heritage had to offer. He remembers it like this: “We had to go piece by piece. We rebuilt the dome with the remaining fragments, and it was quite difficult to determine how the pieces of this enormous puzzle all fell into place. It was pretty close to a work of archeological reconstitution!”
Another sizeable key challenge was assembling a team of competent and well-qualified artisans. This particular project proved to be a turning point in John’s career: “The 357c project allowed me to collaborate with people who yearned to harmonize their traditional knowledge with the usage of very-high-quality noble materials. It was a grand and challenging opportunity that transformed the way I approached building restoration.”
The end result is truly breathtaking, and this architect is very proud of the work he and his team were able to accomplish: “The end result brings me so much joy: I am very proud to have given a new modern life to an architectural jewel, inside the building and out. We have used modern technology to build upon what the architects of another era saw in the Harbour Commission Building.” With more than 25 years of experience under his belt, John Diodati is now EVOQ’s main collaborator. Since he participated in restoring this majestic building of Old Montreal, this architect has been driven by his passion for traditional construction techniques, as he has discussed in his recent collaboration with Héritage Montreal: the Home Renovation Courses.
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