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Cambridge Architecture since 1950

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Local History

  • Gore Fountain
    Gore Fountain*
  • Idea Exchange, Preston
    Idea Exchange, Preston
  • Galt Salvation Army Citadel
    Galt Salvation Army Citadel**
  • Kinsmen National Headquarters
    Kinsmen National Headquarters*
  • St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Grand Avenue
    St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Grand Avenue
  • Cambridge City Hall
    Cambridge City Hall***

Linda, Queen's Square | March 1, 2019

With spring is on its way, now is a great time to take a fresh look at the newer buildings in Cambridge. Which buildings dating from the 1950s to the present will endure and truly represent their time? Taste is an individual matter, but here are some suggestions.

Idea Exchange

Some of Cambridge’s most adventurous modern architecture can be seen in the Idea Exchange buildings. All five of the Idea Exchange buildings are eye-catching. The Old Post Office is the most recent addition, and an award-winning example of a restoration and transformation of an older public building into something new. The Preston location, while not the most flamboyant of the libraries, sits comfortably and welcoming in its neighbourhood setting. The 2001 renovations overseen by architect Stephen Teeple won it awards with its sculpture by Stephen Cruise and fossil-filled stones, while its accessible gardens won it another award in 2018. The architectural visionary behind the Idea Exchange buildings was former CEO Greg Hayton, who himself won an award from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

The Gore Fountain

Recently refurbished in Canada’s sesquicentennial year, the Gore Fountain was given to the City of Galt by Gore Mutual Insurance Company, and designed by the architectural firm of Mark Musselman McIntyre. Details may be found in the 2017 Spring issue of the Acorn on page 24 in an article by Marilyn Scott. The fountain, laid out in the shape of a maple leaf, is a good example of the many park projects created in Canada’s centennial year.  Another example is found on the east side of Main Street, where High Park was rededicated as Centennial Park. 

The best views of the fountain’s design features are to be seen from the air, as demonstrated in this slideshow.

The Ramparts, Blue Heron Ridge

Two houses on Blue Heron Ridge are outstanding for their modern architecture. The home known as The Ramparts, was built for Richard Hilborn by the Canadian architect Arthur Erickson in 1974.  It is located at 194 Blue Heron Ridge and has a commanding presence overlooking the Grand River.  Another modernist house at 140 Blue Heron Ridge, was built in a similar Prairie style, and was constructed in 2015.

Galt Salvation Army Citadel

Ray Hall was a WWI veteran who became a much sought after architect in Galt, his work ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s. One of his major projects was the County of Waterloo Registry office in Kitchener, now the Registry Theatre. He also designed the Salvation Army Citadel on Shade Street and many homes for prominent Galtonians such as H.C. McLaughlin and D. Durward. His buildings, alterations and additions are very extensive and various: for Wesley United Church, GCI, Galt Malleable Iron Company, and an elevator shaft for Meikleham’s Drug Store.

Hall’s original building on Shade Street is typical of many war-time and post-war buildings: it was a good, utilitarian building. When the structure was renovated in 1982 by Ludmila Dejmek, Hall’s building was rejuvenated with insulation and stucco exterior.  Another renovation is anticipated.  Photographs courtesy of Ludmila Dejmek, architect.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church

A successor to Ray Hall was Kitchener’s John Lingwood, also a prolific architect. Originally from Detroit, he completed more than 650 building designs in the region between 1955 and 1992. His style has been called Mid-Century Modern and his life and work were made into a documentary by Dwight Storring which premiered at the Princess Twin Cinemas in January 2019.

Lingwood’s best-known work in Cambridge is likely St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Grand Avenue.  Built in 1960, the building is constructed of stone and brick with a canopy at the entrance. Lingwood connected the former Dalgleish home to the church physically with a walkway and stylistically by repeating the Dalgleish roof angle in the new building.

Kinsmen National Headquarters

The Kinsmen National Headquarters that faces the 401 is another Cambridge example of modern architecture.  It was completed in 1980 by the firm of Mark Musselman McIntyre & Coombe. The interior gallery connects all three floors, allowing a flood of light inside, and the stark white exterior contrasts with the bright green of Riverside Park.

Hamilton Theatre

The Hamilton Theatre on Grand Avenue was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and built in 2013. Finished in two types of metal cladding, it houses Drayton Entertainment’s head office and short-stay residences for actors. It remains a well-used and popular local building, well designed for its purpose.

Cambridge City Hall

One thing is certain: today’s buildings need to take the changing climate into consideration. The new Cambridge City Hall, completed in 2008, received wide acclaim because it was the first city hall in Ontario to meet Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, and is still referred to as an example for other such buildings. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, the building features a four-story “living wall”, a water cistern system that collects rain water from the roof for reuse, and a “green roof” that retains heat in winter and cools in summer.

Photos courtesy of  *Cambridge Archives & Records Centre,  **Ludmila Dejmek  and  ***City of Cambridge.