A 1912 heritage building in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood has been home to the Goh Ballet Academy since 1985. The two-story neoclassical revival building, originally constructed for the Royal Bank of Canada, consists of brick masonry and glazed terra-cotta exterior walls. A decorative terra-cotta cornice runs along the top of the building at the south and east elevations. As observations from the street noted signs of serious deterioration, the cornice was identified as a priority for remediation.

In 2017, our team was engaged to perform a targeted investigation of the building’s deteriorated cornice and decorative dentils. We worked with a heritage masonry contractor to dismantle a section of the cornice and found that the cornice’s embedded structural steel anchorage had significantly corroded and was no longer adequately supporting the terra-cotta. We developed a remedial strategy for the building and prepared construction documents for the project. Our approach utilized careful deconstruction of the cornice, replacement of the deteriorated structural steel, and reinstatement of the original terra-cotta and cast stone using new anchorage. Improved drainage was implemented in a way that was sympathetic to the original design. Since the cornice required transitioning with the roof assembly, we also performed a roof condition assessment.

Our team created a unique design to structurally support the dentils and specified materials to repair the terra-cotta. We originally planned to work on only the southeast corner of the cornice, but we discovered the damage was more extensive and applied our remedies to the entire length of the cornice.

As the building remained occupied during construction, we facilitated the design of a sequenced work plan with the owner and contractor. Given the age of the building, hazardous materials were identified early in the repair process and we worked with a hazmat specialist to ensure that proper work safe procedures were in place.

Through careful coordination with the City of Vancouver’s Heritage planners, we demonstrated that the contemplated repairs would adhere to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservations of Historic Places. When we completed the project, the City of Vancouver Heritage Commission provided positive feedback for our careful work on the building.

Date:

July 20, 2020

Client:

City Ballet Academy of Vancouver

Our Role:

Heritage Restoration Consultant

Key Services

Building Enclosure Condition Assessments and Investigations
Renewal and Rehabilitation

A building enclosure condition assessment (BECA) and investigation may be required when an enclosure is suspected of having a problem, such as a leak. A BECA report describes either the current condition of the overall enclosure or specific components, such as windows or a balcony, and aims to identify problems or potential problems. If we detect failures, we will recommend the next steps that may lead to repairs or a renewal.

Our team will review the original building drawings, carry out an owner survey, and then spend time onsite visually reviewing various components of the building enclosure. In addition, we will make exploratory openings to assess the condition of hidden components. Our team may use a range of testing and special analysis techniques, such as thermography. We provide a written report of our findings and recommendations and present them at meetings with the owner group.

Marcus Dell | M.A.Sc., P.Eng., BEP

Principal, Senior Building Science Specialist
View Bio

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