Red Cross Conversion

Location: Lethbridge, AB

Year: 2013

Status: Complete

Type: Historic Restoration

Client: Alvin Fritz

For 60 years, the Lethbridge branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society had its headquarters in a historic landmark in the London Road area. When the offices were moved to the west side in 2008, the historic landmark remained empty for a number of years before a new vision was proposed to its owner, the City of Lethbridge. Being a highly desirable residential neighborhood, the London Road Neighborhood Association was very interested in these plans, many attending the open houses and tea parties to discuss the future of the site.

The response was favorable towards the rezoning to “direct control - 6 condos”, and under the circumstances, small waivers to bylaws were secured to allow the project to go ahead. Portico Properties Inc purchased the property and began a two-stage redevelopment conversion, including a subdivision of the lot for 7 new dwellings. The historic structure would remain unchanged in its geometry and be retrofitted with 6 units, while the site to the west would include one earth sheltered dwelling, minimizing impact to the west facade.

The interior of the substantive structure was completely demolished and new footings were poured to support the new floor systems. A new lower floor was built above the original basement floor, allowing for a walk-out patio environment along 12th Street, characteristic of many homes along the steep neighborhood streets.

To integrate less mobile residents, the lower level was fitted with barrier free and accessible suites, allowing for the elderly in the neighborhood to remain on their much-loved street. The proximity to the hospital only adds convenience to the location which is surrounded by 25-plus amenities within a five-minute walk.

A loft design maximized the characteristic arched window openings in this masonry façade, recreating the openness of the original vaulted ceiling. New mezzanine structures created space for bedrooms on the upper floors, borrowing light from the generous fenestration. The exterior was reverted to its original appearance; its Greek Revival style is now protected by provincial historic designation. Grants from the Alberta Historic Resource Foundation assist in maintaining this historic treasure.

The overall success of the project was due to the cooperation and hard work of many local companies, including Silver Ridge Construction Ltd, Portico Properties Inc, Alberta Historic Resource Foundation, the London Road Neighborhood Association, and the City of Lethbridge. Without the special effort afforded by the team, this project could not have been made a reality.

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