Smithbilt Hats

[Photography by Robert Scott.]

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The completed Smithbilt Hat Factory and Residence project is the redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the long-idle historic Fletcher Mill building adjoining the CPR Mainline on 10th Street SE in Inglewood led by placeworks design.  It now is the proud new home of Calgary’s iconic Smithbilt, its manufacturing and showroom, and an exceptional private residence on the upper floors.

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From the outset, this project was complex due to the multiple and layered considerations required to bring it to fruition. A valuable part of the City’s history located in a heritage neighbourhood adjacent to the CPR tracks and the proposed new LRT line; being long-abandoned with a building needing significant rehabilitation meant that there were many individuals and organizations who would have to work together to revitalize this site and to make it functional for the new use and to ensure, in completion, it would meet required code regulations. From Heritage approvals, community support, permits issued and revisions approved by the city, and long hours for trades, project managers, design teams, engineering, suppliers, the client, and others who were involved, everyone invested their blood, sweat, and tears to make this beloved project come to life.

SMITHBILT NEW OLD COMPARISON

Although not registered as a designated historic resource with the Province or the City, the Mill was listed as a building of interest; the City Historic Architect had compiled a written history and a collection of related images. Heritage Planning was consulted before, and regularly after, the property’s purchase.

The Fletcher Mill was chosen by Smithbilt, in part, due to its adjacency and relationship to Calgary’s historic and western cultural center and its industrial nature. Re-use of the Mill allowed for a restoration of the hundred and ten year old wood-framed structure that has attracted much interest due to its industrial massing, site-specific and generated angular orientation, raw metal exterior finishes, and interesting signage (Sure-Gain). The footprint of the original structure was used or followed as closely as possible to respect and reinforce the unusual geometry of the original mill and the heritage integrity of the building. The repair and restoration of some of the original walls, timber structure, and foundations was significant due to the cumulative damage to the balloon-framed wood structure from several fires during its period of operation and lack of upkeep since.

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These original elements were seen as essential and valuable to the project and to the historic importance of the site so wherever possible, they were repaired and retained; they remain a part of the building seen today. Sprinklers were installed to current code regulations to protect the Mill from further fire damage in the future.

Locally crafted metal cladding similar to the finish of the original siding was used on the exterior to retain the building’s industrial quality. New construction, such as windows, the new roof over the north portion of the building, and the main entry reflect a more contemporary design and use of materials to contrast with and highlight the historical language of the existing structure.

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Smithbilt Hats’ presence here and use is the final piece to the historic value and pride central to the project, having been founded circa 1910 and partnering with the Calgary Stampede since 1926. In 1946, Smithbilt Hats created the White Cowboy Hat, now an iconic symbol of Calgary and the Stampede and internationally recognized and representative of our City’s pride in Western culture and hosting the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Smithbilt further builds real historic connection through their use of the original manufacturing equipment – now more than a century old. This equipment is highlighted and visible from the showroom as part of the buying experience for customers and along with the nature of the entire project, represents the true artisanal service being provided – an authentic link to Calgary’s history.

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For more amazing photos of this project, visit the project page here.

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Yeehaw! A New Home for Smithbilt Hats, Just In Time for Stampede.

Smithbilt for blog post - with grass41 months.

30 pages of architectural drawings.

6 permits and permit revisions.

3 designated uses.

1 project.

Voila! You have the recipe for the completely unique, challenging, and equally rewarding mixed use project of ours that we are excited to get to share with you. Continue reading

Sandrin Construction Ltd.

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We have added another wonderful, local builder to the Partners page on our website…. Sandrin Construction Ltd. is just wrapping up construction on a residential project that we designed and we must say that their work is spectacular! With a high attention to detail and a desire to make the client happy in a now-functional space, Sandrin Construction executed a fine exterior and interior renovation. At our last site visit, we were blown away by the transformation of the house; instead of outdated and cramped, the new floor plan and finishes create a comfortable space that looks fresh and welcoming. If you’d like to see more of their work, you can find them on our Partners page or you can visit http://www.sandrinconstruction.com/

 

What DO we do?

We’ve been remiss. Since many of you visiting here probably don’t know a lot about what placeworks actually does, here goes.

For the most part, we do architectural design. Seems simple, but in our reality, it is pretty messy, complex, and wide ranging. Our bread and butter is and has always been residential design.Within that, our projects include new homes, additions, renovations, interiors, and landscaping for private clients and developers. Associated with this residential work, we’ve also become adept at dealing with complex planning and community requirements. These projects have been designed and built across Alberta, BC, in Saskatchewan, and even in Montana.

We enjoy dealing with individuals and families and their lives and work to design solutions around those. Important to us is being able to help potential clients understand what options are even open to them and how they might approach embarking on changes to how they live – most people have never gone through a design process before. Our services include varying mixes of working together to create great design, finding builders, getting approvals, and providing assistance throughout the construction.

placeworks also has built expertise and experience in commercial design, in particular with office fit-outs and tenant improvements, retail, food and beverage, and the odd climbing wall. We care deeply with creating facilities that not only work well for a business, but also are exceptional expressions of the spirit of these enterprises to their clients, customers and staff. Along with this design oriented work, we’ve developed some expertise at addressing and evaluating complex Land-Use issues. A real belief in effective collaboration has worked well both with regulatory bodies, communities, and neighbors.

Our commitment to collaboration also extends to partnering with other design and Architecture practices, consulting engineers, builders, and trades as is required and appropriate to creating great solutions. It can be a lot of fun as well!

If you feel that we can assist you at all – even if it is just answering a few questions – please don’t hesitate to call us at 403-261-0092 or email us at info@placeworksdesign.com.