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ERA Architects


Coliseum Complex at Exhibition Place

Coliseum Complex at Exhibition Place

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Coliseum Complex is a 410,000 sq ft group of five buildings constructed in 1922 to showcase the Canadian National Exhibition’s Winter Fair. An example of restrained Beaux Arts style design, these buildings feature vast, symmetrical, masonry façades; extensive classical brick detailing; unusual sculptural ornamentation in stone; and hundreds of large, finely framed windows.

Having worked as heritage consultant on the site for several years already, ERA was contracted in 2009 to assess and replace 200 windows on four sides of the complex for energy efficiency and preservation of heritage fabric; restore the exterior façades of the “Industry Building” based on original drawings; and renovate a vestibule that, after the addition of Direct Energy Centre, was blocking sight lines and obstructing the movement of people and materials.

Renovating this vestibule area provided an opportunity to interpret the site’s rich heritage through three design strategies:

  • Illustration of the vestibule’s former footprint by removing layers of paint to expose the original concrete.
  • Exposure of heritage fabric by removing paint from adjacent bricks and woodwork.
  • New design that references the agricultural history of the site, including stair-rail panels designed with laser-cut illustrations based on stone relief sculptures on the exterior of the building.

The vestibule now exists as a unique and elegant hybrid of heritage fabric and contemporary utility. It is an example of the subtlety so often required when addressing the combined practices of restoration, adaptive reuse, and sustainability.

MORE: Check out our story on The animals of the Coliseum.

Canadian National Exhibtion
Clifford Restoration


  • Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals: Preservation of a Heritage Building or Complex, Award of Merit, 2012

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