Recutting a heritage gem with a newfound elegance and purpose

Recutting a heritage gem with a newfound elegance and purpose

It’s a story of dialogues between past and present, told in façades: As passersby round this building’s corners, they step through time, walking from heritage masonry dating back to 1910 and into the modern steel and glass of a city’s international district—all within a single retrofitted structure.

Located in Old Montreal’s Paper Hill, a concentrated district once home to city’s printing industry during the beginnings of the 20th century, the Read Building has taken on a renewed form as 425 Viger. As storied as its beginnings were, the address demanded a new chapter that would both draw on a preservation of its history—a classical design characteristic of the Chicago School with its tripartite column form—and attune itself to its present-day surroundings.

Below its surface lies a judicious use of steel in a variety of applications to preserve the original reinforced concrete structure, as well as to support the additional weight of the structure’s upward expansion.  Precision retrofitting revived the exterior walls, replaced its doors and windows, and created a new, sleek and elegant expression on its surface: The architectural contrast of transparent curtain of glass, appearing as though a gem was polished out of the aged stonework.

425 Viger is a prime example of how innovation in design can both preserve and make an original and forward-looking statement. Viewing its surfaces from each compass point reveals a different perspective and moment in time, while its contemporary side nods to the Read Building’s original vocation through subtle folds that resemble origami.