The Holy Blossom Temple Renewal project was recently honoured with a 2021 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award in the Transformative Project category. Presented by the National Trust for Canada, these awards celebrate successful regeneration projects across the country that contribute to quality of life and sense of place. The Transformative Project category specifically recognizes projects that have renewed and transformed historic places in innovative ways.
“The result is a thoughtful renewal honouring a rich architectural past, fusing the old and the new to reveal portions of the historic buildings as part of the new architecture.”
In addition to being one of Toronto’s first Jewish congregations, the Holy Blossom Temple was also the first Canadian institution to employ the modern use of board-formed concrete. The oldest building on site, the House of Worship, dates back to 1938, and a modernist school building, the House of Learning, was added in 1960. A narrow courtyard connected the two buildings, creating an unintended maze-like flow that limited opportunities for social interaction. The renewal project in 2017 involved the addition of a new House of Gathering, and the chance to transform the space between the two original structures.
Smith + Andersen is proud to have worked with Diamond Schmitt Architects, providing mechanical engineering and sustainability services for the project. Like the architectural strategy, our mechanical design balanced new and old features, such as a new central heating and cooling plant in the addition, and replacing the aged mechanical infrastructure, while re-using some of the existing distribution ductwork to avoid unnecessary restoration.
The pinnacle of this project was the introduction of an airy, four-storey atrium that creates a contrast between the two concrete structures that surround it and improves connectivity between all areas of the building. The light-filled space features a modern glass envelope, helical staircase, and large skylight while still retaining and celebrating key qualities of the original historic buildings. The new House of Gathering also allows for multiple communal areas, a café, and Judaica shop. Constant volume air handling for the atrium, combined with a four pipe fan coil system serving the other areas, provided a tailored approach to the various unique spaces across the building. All outdoor air is pre-conditioned using heat recovery, and an "operable window ventilation mode for the atrium" uses the smoke control fans and operable windows to naturally condition the atrium.
Congratulations to the entire project team on this award win. You can read more of the Jury's comments, and learn more about the award, through the National Trust for Canada website: https://nationaltrustcanada.ca/nt-awards/holy-blossom-temple