Another stop for Doors Open was Mercury Court in the Byward Market. The building was a department store back in the 1920s, and converted into new uses from 1989-1993. Retail and restaurants occupy the ground floor, while offices are on the upper floors. A statue of the Roman god Mercury (adapted from the Greek Hermes) stands up above it all. The Swedish embassy is inside, hence the flags and crest, but the place that was open for the occasion was an architecture firm, Barry Padolsky & Associates.
The firm is prestigious here in the city, well respected and well known, specializing in heritage preservation work. They've been in the news as of late; theirs has been one of the leading voices in opposition to a bone headed and garish monument the Tory government seems hellbent on erecting near the Supreme Court. Obviously I am in complete agreement with them.
I spoke extensively with one of the partners in the firm. She's been working as of late on a project not that far away from Mercury Court. The Rideau Centre's expansion meant the old Ogilvie Building was torn down, but part of that allowed for elements of the old facade to be incorporated into the new building. The brickwork and other details are presently being placed into the structure. Some of these pieces were on display here in the office space.
This is a scale model of Mercury Court, which the firm worked on in restoring and adapting before moving in. The partner I spoke with talked about some of her previous work, which included the major work done on the Museum of Nature, as well as the complete restoration of a Victorian home gutted by fire east of the downtown core. This sort of work requires contacts with stonemasons and heritage carpenters who specialize in salvaging and saving heritage buildings. It's a very different take on architecture to me, and a welcome one.
One last view of the Court before going on to other things; it was an enlightening visit.