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September/October 2018 By Carol Jankowski – GRAND

Laurel Vocational School caused quite a stir when it opened on University Avenue in Waterloo back in 1968. Fifty years later, the building, now Conestoga College’s North Campus, is again generating a buzz, this time because of its modern “wow” factors and the seamless incorporation of some key elements of the late John Lingwood’s original design.

Unlike many new buildings that seem to turn inward, closed to passers-by, Conestoga’s bold, bright North Campus reveals its interior for the world to see. The grey-tinted glass curtain shell constructed around the original building adds 150,000 square feet of usable space. The higher roof designed for solar panels is another 21st-century feature. Yet lead architect Daniel Teramura also preserved features from a half-century ago: the expansive glass entrance to an indoor courtyard and, overhead, nine of the 15 precast concrete window surrounds.Construction continued through the summer to complete the expansion of Conestoga College’s North Campus, on University Avenue in Waterloo. PHOTO BY DWIGHT STORRING

When they set about to enlarge the school, which it purchased from the Waterloo Region District School Board, college administrators were unaware the entrance and windows were significant architectural features of their day, Conestoga president and chief executive officer John Tibbits said in an interview. Indeed, an early concept drawing of the proposed building, prepared for fundraising purposes, did not include the central entrance block that is now such an eye-catching feature.

However, by commissioning the Toronto architectural firm of Moriyama & Teshima to design a new building, Conestoga put its North Campus project in the hands of a team experienced in refurbishing and expanding older buildings, including some with designated heritage features.

Simply replacing the building was an option, says Teramura, a partner in the firm whose background includes seven years on the City of Toronto’s Preservation Panel.

However, “our starting point is that you can sometimes strengthen and get something more interesting if you preserve some features of the original building,” Teramura says. “When we got involved and looked at the original building, we thought it had real presence and strong architectural bones. It was also in very good condition.”

One person who worried about the impact an expansion might have on the old school was Rick Haldenby of Kitchener, the former longtime director of University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture.

“Lingwood used very deep window casings to emulate a traditional colonnade, even if, in a thoroughly modern fashion, he had the entire facade visually floating above a void,” Haldenby explains. “It is an interesting piece of design and one that I am very happy the architect was able to save and incorporate in the renovated building. I have always thought the central section . . . was the most significant aspect of the design, not just the windows, but the portico underneath the central section and the courtyard in behind.”

In May, Haldenby included the Conestoga expansion in an article and a paper he presented to an Ontario

Association of Architects conference in Toronto. His topic was six Post-War Modern buildings that were recently, or are currently being renovated in “appropriate and inspiring ways so that a wonderful cultural and material resource is not lost, defaced or wasted completely.”

Teramura explains the look of the expanded building this way: “The central portion is effectively the front door; the new entry court is an important orientation and student space and keeps good flow. It is very open and transparent. People can see right through the building.” Inside the entrance, there is a large student cafeteria to the right. To the left is new kitchen space for Conestoga’s expanding Culinary and Hospitality Institute classes.

There is also a larger, upscale version of Blooms restaurant, which is run by culinary students. Each semester, Blooms is open to the public for three-and four-course meals, both lunch and dinner, several days a week.

Teramura experienced first-hand Blooms’ popularity when he tried to have lunch there during a site visit. Sorry, he was told. Without a reservation, he was out of luck.

The expanse and visibility of the glass entrance, interior courtyard and the activity beyond makes the entire section important public space, Teramura says, predicting Blooms “will become even more of a destination.”

In 1987, when Tibbits became president of Conestoga, the college had 2,000 students. Its Waterloo campus was 62,000 square feet of classrooms on a six-acre King Street North site.

Seeing Waterloo as a logical city in which to expand, Tibbits tried unsuccessfully to purchase land from the nearby Waterloo Inn.

He bided his time. Then, in the early 2000s, the public board listed the University Avenue building, by then called University Heights Secondary School. Under provincial regulations, other Ontario school boards get first dibs on available schools. Eventually the door opened to an offer from the college.

By buying the 125,000-square-foot school, the college not only doubled its teaching space in Waterloo, it gained the potential to expand on a high-visibility 12-acre property.

Initially, the teaching focus at North Campus was training for the construction trades, a small culinary and hospitality program, and introductory programs for recent immigrants.


  • Established as a small community college in 1967, Conestoga College currently has 13,000 full-time students attending classes in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Stratford, Ingersoll and Brantford.

  • Each year, 38,000 continuing education students take special-interest courses or work toward a diploma.

  • In 2001, Conestoga launched its first degree program. Today there are more than a dozen in engineering, business, health, community services and the arts. One day it plans to offer masters programs.

But Conestoga was growing rapidly in enrolment and programs, and the former high school didn’t reflect its evolution to a degree-granting polytechnic with a growing number of foreign students. Expansion planning began.

Redevelopment of the property was ambitious in both scope and timing. In December 2016, with the announcement of $14 million in federal funding, $1.8 million from the province and a remaining $27.7 million from the college and community, Conestoga College unveiled its North Campus plans. The following October, Cowan Foundation became Conestoga’s single largest donor of private funds with a gift of $4 million toward the expansion.

The timeline was tight. Seventeen months— that’s all Cambridge contractor Collaborative Structures Ltd. (CSL) was given to transform the 1960s building into a sleek new multi-use campus.

Construction started the third week of March 2017, with work to be completed by September 2018. Students at North Campus would continue to attend their regular classes while work went on around them.

In an interview, project manager Dan Dietrich, CSL’s man on the spot, outlined some challenges.

Having students onsite was one. Parking was another. Space was scarce for heavy construction vehicles and handling of materials could be awkward.


New state-of-the-art culinary facilities at Conestoga College’s Waterloo campus feature four teaching kitchens, with another two coming online congruent with enrolment and funding.

Particularly noteworthy, the design of the two main teaching kitchens features a retractable glass wall, allowing space for up to 48 individuals to participate in competitions, team-building and professional development. That space and a new student-run restaurant face University Avenue, bringing the college closer to the street, allowing the public to see in as they pass this prominent landmark. The new culinary facilities and associated event space are tailored to Waterloo Region’s historical roots and proximity to farms. For instance, an emphasis on butchery, charcuterie and artisanal cheese will reflect Kitchener-Waterloo’s rich German history.

Other features include a dedicated lab for baking and pastry; space for mixology and wine tasting; and two new demonstration theatres with raked seating for 55 and 100 respectively, overlooking full-on kitchens. A new research kitchen, building on the college’s existing strengths in food processing, supply-chain management, nutrition management and seniors’ care, has a goal of supporting local industry. — Alex Bielak

“We built a wall to separate the student and staff areas from the construction,” Dietrich says. “Their safety wasn’t   an issue, and because the area was exempt from noise bylaws, we were able to get most of the noisy work done between 6:30 and 9 a.m. Foremost was maintaining student safely.”

A five-week strike by teachers in late fall of 2017 “didn’t affect us a lot,” Dietrich says, unlike last autumn’s wet spell “which came at the wrong time when we were trying to put the roof on.” An unusually long, harsh winter followed.

If that weren’t enough, CSL took on extra unscheduled work, completing a previously unfinished floor as well as other space in the building that had been intended for future use. The additional work, scheduled once new enrolment projections pointed to the space being needed sooner than anticipated, raised the total cost of the expansion to $58.2 million.

By February of this year, new kitchen equipment was arriving. By March, while some jobs were behind schedule, others were ahead. It balanced out, and Dietrich felt confident the schedule would be met. Materials used in the redesign include the glossy glass curtain wall that loses heat at night and gains it back in sunlight. With argon-filled double-pane glass and protective glazing, it meets the current code for energy efficiency, Dietrich says. The solar panels are a partnership with Waterloo North Hydro.

All in all, Dietrich says, “it’s a sharp-looking building.”

Of course, in the academic world, the lasting impact of what happens in classrooms and labs is more important than its buildings.

Waterloo Region’s reputation as a technology hotbed makes North Campus the ideal location to expand the college’s computer science programs and bring all those students under one roof. This fall, it introduced four new degree programs.

Another area of surging growth is Conestoga’s graduate certificate training programs, intended for university and college graduates looking to the college for updated, specialized training to sharpen and define their skills. Classes are held in the evening to accommodate work schedules, and as of this fall, 15 certificates in fields as diverse as human resources, environmental controls and cyber security are offered.

The college’s culinary, hospitality and beverage management program was also due for an upgrade. At one time, when the region didn’t offer today’s range of sophisticated dining options, Conestoga had 80 culinary students.

Today, with high-end restaurants in every part of the region, a diverse population, enhanced research on the nutritional needs of different age groups and a foodie culture that considers cooking a cool, challenging pastime, enrolment in Conestoga’s Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute is forecast to climb from the current 350 students to about 900 by 2023.

The original building, then known as Laurel Vocational School, is shown on the evening of Dec. 9, 1968. Photo courtesy of University of Waterloo Library. Special Collections & Archives. Personal Studio fonds.

Course offerings include culinary planning, preparation and presentation in a variety of food service environments. Students learn cost-control and kitchen management techniques as well as food safety regulations and procedures. A new research kitchen will offer opportunities for product development and testing. As for those leisure-time foodies, there are new part-time and short courses in cooking for pleasure.

Culinary grads will still find careers in hospitality, Tibbits says, but also in institutional sectors serving university students, long-term care patients and assisted living communities.

Another key feature at North Campus is a medley of services to help newcomers to Canada find success. Over the years, Conestoga has trained almost 10,000 immigrants through its federally financed Language Instruction for New Canadians (LINC). Now, for the first time, in the new Access Hub, LINC will be offered alongside career counselling, job training and job-finding assistance, all under one roof. Some child care may be available.

Access Hub services will benefit both students and employers, Tibbits says. A variety of practical short courses will be offered with “a huge emphasis on helping the under-employed.” Tibbits builds for the future and calls the revitalized North Campus Phase 1 of Conestoga’s Pathways to Prosperity initiative.

In April, the Ontario government announced it will spend $90 million to launch a new 150-acre campus in Milton, near the Niagara Escarpment, where Conestoga College and Wilfrid Laurier University will be partners in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) teaching. Fifty acres will be located in the proposed Milton Education Village, the other 100 acres will be protected land for hands-on learning in environmental science.

Just like Conestoga, Tibbits, Ontario’s longest-serving college president, is not done.


Fall 2018 by Nicole Benbow - Idea Exchange Magazine

The Old Post Office project was ambitious, involving multiple architectural firms, countless artisans and tradespeople, and dozens of consultants. The entire project was managed by Collaborative Structures Limited (CSL), a Cambridge-based construction company that has spent the last fifteen years working in communities across Ontario. One of their specialties is heritage and re-adaptive use projects. To date they have led ten major heritage projects, as well as contributing detail-specific pieces to many other buildings across the province.

President David Timlock (Left) reflected on the company’s last three years working on the Old Post Office. He acknowledges it has been an extremely successful build, but that it was not without its challenges. While the location of the building was originally chosen in 1885 for its prominence to downtown, having a river on one side, a major road on the other, and sandwiched in by two existing buildings made it difficult to move throughout construction. Sequencing the tasks was essential in order for CSL to “work their way out of the project” and ensure everything could be accomplished properly.

One exciting development coming out of this project for CSL was their creation of an innovative new technique to ‘pin’ stone walls. Using a framework of pins, lintels, and beams allowed restoration work to be completed on the stonework below the pins without compromising the integrity of the structure, or needing to remove and replace more stones and grout than necessary.

It has been wonderful to work with a local company on this project, and David shared that his team has felt the same way. “We’re very proud and satisfied to be a part of a project in our own backyard.” Remo Schlumpf (Right), Project Superintendent with CSL, echoed this, “I have enjoyed this experience, working with staff at the City of Cambridge and Idea Exchange on this exciting project.” We whole-heartedly agree. Thank you CSL, for all your hard work over the past three years!


August 31, 2018 by CTV Kitchener

With the first day of school just days away, some Conestoga College students will be starting the new year in a newly renovated facility.

Friday morning hundreds of students got the chance to take part in their first tour of the Waterloo campus.

“I thought it was incredible, just seeing all the new shiny things,” said Quilan Henderson, a Chef’s training student.

The renovated campus is located at University Avenue and Weber Street and is an expansion of the existing site.

The new facility is more than double its existing space with about triple the number of student enrolled.

It’s being touted as a much more sleek and modern facility.

“A lot of curtain walls, glass, and the interior of the building will be very high tech,” said site superintendent Adrian Vugts.

The facility will feature new specialty labs including state of the art kitchens.

“You have a facility there that's really teaching them the theory and technique behind it,” said Waterloo campus manager Kathryn Brubacher.

The renovated campus will even feature a restaurant where students’ culinary skills can be put to the test. The restaurant is set to open to the public this October.

The campus is about 90 per cent complete, but crews are still working on phase four, which the site superintendent says is still on schedule.

Construction of the additional 150,000 square feet started last spring, and carries a price tag of about $58 million.

“14 from the feds. 2 million from the province and about 8 million from private donors and we paid for the rest ourselves,” said College president John Tibbits.

Along with the 17 classrooms and three computer labs there will also be a special space specific for newcomers to Canada and their little ones.

“We have childcare while they're here on site so they feel comfortable feeling close to their children, but it's not a deterrent from getting that extra education, said Brubacher.

The rest of the campus is ready for the close to 2,000 students to start studying on September 4.

Phase four of the project is expected to wrap up be Christmas and will be ready for students in January.


March 23, 2018 - Conestoga College News

Businesses operated by Conestoga graduates were in the spotlight at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence awards held on March 22, taking top honours as Businesses of the Year in both categories.

Blendtek Fine Ingredients is focused on developing innovative new technologies, food systems and ingredients to address the need to feed a growing world population. It was named Business of the Year for companies with one to 49 employees. President Steve Zinger, a 2006 graduate from Conestoga’s Business Administration - Marketing program, launched the business after completing his studies. Annual sales now exceed $8 million.

In addition to Business of the Year, Zinger was also honoured with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Collaborative Structures Limited (CSL), a company that provides construction management, general contracting and design-build services for the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential sectors, was honoured as Business of the Year for companies with 50 or more employees. President David Timlock, the company partners and many of the employees are graduates of Conestoga.

CSL has been honoured with numerous building excellence and design awards and in 2015, was named as Business of the Year by the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce for companies with one to 49 employees. Currently, the company serves as general contractor for Conestoga’s Waterloo campus expansion project.

“I am delighted to offer my most sincere congratulations to these exceptional companies and all of this year’s award nominees and recipients,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits. “We are very proud to contribute to the success and prosperity of our region through career-focused education that prepares graduates to embrace real-world challenges, strive for excellence and make a real difference to their communities.”

Conestoga graduates own more than 3,500 local businesses, ranging from single proprietorships to enterprises with hundreds of employees, from professional health services to construction services. The college’s Centre for Entrepreneurship provides opportunities for students from a wide range of programs to prepare for future success through engagement in applied research, innovation and commercialization activities. 

For a list of all 2018 Business Excellence Awards recipients, visit the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.


Jan 31, 2018 by Guelph Today Staff

Historic preservation and leadership recognized

The Ontario Public Works Association (OPWA) has recognized Guelph’s commitment to historical preservation and restoration. The City was presented with the award for 2017 Project of the Year for Historic Restoration/Preservation in the less than $2 million category for the Guelph Transit Terminal Renovation.

Steven Di Pietro, Construction Engineering Technologist for the City of Guelph, was also presented with the 2017 Wally Wells Young Leader Award. The awards were presented at the OPWA’s Annual General meeting in Mississauga on Jan. 25.

The Transit Terminal, originally built in 1911, has been in continuous operation for over 100 years. The Association noted the complex nature of the project including the requirement of three levels of Government heritage-designation approvals and exterior and interior improvements to restore the building’s historical finishes while upgrading it to meet current standards for accessibility, security and communications.

The City also worked closely with the Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure habitat protection for the rare Eastern Chimney Swift, a threatened species that sometimes live in old chimneys.

“The City of Guelph is very pleased and proud to accept the award for historic restoration,” says Mario Petricevic, general manager of facilities management at the City, speaking at the awards ceremony, “Thank you to the Association for recognizing the efforts of our project team.”

Petricevic applauded the work of the project team, recognizing project manager, Rob Broughton, architect Janet Stewart and her team at Thomas Brown Architects, general contractor Jim Blair and his team at Collaborative Structures Limited, and the sub-contractors on all teams.

“To complete any project on time and on budget takes team work, collaboration, cooperation and strong leadership,” said Petricevic. “This team was definitely a clear example of what can happen when these qualities are adhered to and demonstrated by all parties.”

Leadership in engineering

The OPWA hands out the Wally Wells Young Leader Award in recognition and encouragement of young OPWA members who have demonstrated a commitment to the profession and the Association, and who show potential for future growth.

As the current chair of the OPWA’s Young Professionals Committee, Steven Di Pietro has represented the highest standards for his industry, working with the Association to promote new membership and enhance networking opportunities, especially for young professionals.

“Steven has been a welcomed addition to the City’s engineering team, where he uses his experience and knowledge to prepare detailed designs for road projects,” said Antti Vilkko, manager of design and construction. “I know I speak for our entire team when I say that this award is well deserved and we congratulate him on this achievement.”


January 6, 2018 - Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton office building, closed 30 years, is being transformed. Its first tenant is an architectural firm

Westinghouse newpaper photo

It's colder in the former Canadian Westinghouse head office building than it is outside.

It's -12 C on Sanford Avenue on a December day, yet the four people leading us on an icy tour of the long vacant building are so optimistic about its future they radiate warmth.

"The space in this building is phenomenal because it has incredible history and architectural details," says architect Joanne McCallum.

The Westinghouse office building, at 286 Sanford Ave. N., is being reborn and McCallum Sather Architects have signed on as the first anchor tenants. They will occupy the 10,000-square-foot second floor, with a move-in date set for June 1.

It's been at least 30 years since there were desks and switchboards here, and business being conducted in this building. Yet evidence of its grand history is visible behind the boarded up windows and shackled doors. The terrazzo floors with marble borders live under layers of dust. The ornate pillars, the panelled office of the president, and the decorative ceiling in the auditorium remain.

It's this history that attracted Meir Dick and Ray Hutton to the lonely building north of Barton Street East. They are partners in the financing, design, construction, and management of the building on behalf of the investors.

"For us, we always try to retell the story of Westinghouse," Dick is saying as we tour the light-filled second floor where banks of windows, at least 40, are being replaced. "The Westinghouse story is its long history as an economic industrial power and major employer of 11,000 people in Hamilton alone."

The Canadian Westinghouse head office was built in 1917, designed by Prack & Perrine, the predecessor to Prack & Prack, designers of the Pigott building and Lister Block.

The five-storey brick and stone building (two more storeys were added in 1928) became a landmark in the Barton and Sanford area.

The large, arched windows of the ground floor and decorative keystones and cornices were key elements in the building's dignified design and projected a proud corporate image.

Nearby, the Westinghouse plant was evolving from making railroad air brakes to becoming a major manufacturer of gas turbines, transformers, water wheel generators, circuits, stoves, toasters, and refrigerators.

The Westinghouse success story and its place in Hamilton history is a major reason Ray Hutton, a native of Hamilton, got involved in the project.

In the only heated space in the building he shows images of the original blueprints for it and talks of discovering old photos in the Ontario Archives and McMaster Library.

There are photos of elegant dinners in the Westinghouse boardroom and of the ornate auditorium complete with projection booth. His family, through the Hutton Foundation, is providing a portion of the financing for the redevelopment.

"The project is significant to our family as Hamiltonians, because we see it as having the potential to be a catalyst in the revitalization of the Barton commercial corridor as well as the community at-large."

The Westinghouse office building faces the big open space of Woodlands Park. It's close to the community minded 541 Eatery & Exchange and the Barton Public Library. The area is changing and the plans for the building, the partners believe, fit right in.

There is 50,000 square feet of commercial office space, and about 30,000 square feet available for food or event space. That space could be used to bring the community in and contribute to the revival on Barton.

"When the building is full, there are so many windows here, we will have eyes on the street," McCallum says.

McCallum Sather is already working on plans for their office space, but they are also the architects and mechanical and heritage consultants for the entire project.

"We are aiming for net zero carbon," says architect Greg Sather.

Sustainable systems will be worked into the building, and for their space they are designing the office of the future.

"There will be no assigned desks," McCallum says gleefully.

In Hamilton, there is no shortage of vacant office space, but class A space like what the Westinghouse headquarters will have to offer is in short supply, according to McCallum.

Hutton and Dick say that two more prime tenants are close to signing.

Twenty years ago Siemens bought Westinghouse, but by 2010 it had moved the Hamilton gas turbine jobs to the United States. Now, Empire Steel occupies portions of the 620,000-square-foot plant.

It took much longer to find a purpose for the elegant office building.

In 2001, the city took possession of 286 Sanford for tax arrears. They estimated it would take $5 million to repair the heritage designated building. It was put up for sale as surplus property and bought for $200,000 in 2003.

The new owners are not saying how much it will cost to bring back the Westinghouse headquarters building but their commitment is on view at the job site. Many of the 300-plus windows have been duplicated and replaced, and rubble and refuse cleared.

"This office building was their crown jewel," says Dick. "We want to celebrate the Westinghouse heritage and bring it back."


Jul 28, 2017 by Lisa Rutledge – Cambridge Times

‘Why not make their day?’

Two guys with a sign in their hands and a jig in their step turned drivers’ traffic troubles into a reason to smile.

Wesley Allgood and Brian Winchester were handed stop signs and hired to persuade lanes of traffic to wait their turn while construction crews worked on the new library on Water Street near Main Street Friday (July 28).

The Collaborative Structures Ltd. employees, who also happen to be friends, used their power of persuasion to entertain drivers caught in downtown’s car snarls.

Though the job of traffic control isn’t their traditional line of work, the two found themselves on road duty Friday and decided to put a positive spin on an otherwise tedious job and make everyone’s day.

And by all accounts it was working, as potential road rage quickly turned to smiles, cheers, horn honking and a steadily gathering fan base. Some pedestrians even stopped for a selfie.

“People are mad at you all the time,” said Winchester, as he held back southbound traffic on Water Street early in the afternoon. “Why not make their day?”

Within hours he had a few signature moves, one of which included a flashy sign spin to announce to stopped southbound drivers it was their turn to hit the gas.

Strictly following safety rules while controlling north and southbound lanes, the trained workers co-ordinated flow by singing “Switch!” into their two-way radios.

The show wasn’t just for drivers, however. Allgood and Winchester insist standing stationary on a hot road for hours at a time isn’t as easy as it looks.


April 5, 2017 by Karen Renkema - Progressive Contractors Association of Canada

PCA held a suabout_us_CSLnews_PCAphotoccessful Lobby Day at the Ontario Legislature last month. It was an opportunity for us to meet with more than a half dozen PC Caucus members as well as Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and Cambridge MPP, Kathryn McGarry, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

We continue to raise awareness about the benefits of fair and open construction tendering. Our message is about fairness for contractors, workers, municipalities and taxpayers. As you know, a loophole in Ontario’s Labour Relations Act restricts construction competition, which shuts out contractors and workers and forces too many municipalities to pay a premium for infrastructure work. We had some interesting conversations about the issue and will continue to push forward to make a strong case for fair and open tendering when we meet with officials in the City of Toronto.

Over the coming months, we will be capitalizing all opportunities to raise further awareness and galvanize support. We will keep you updated on our continuing progress.