Program: A 480,000-square-foot mixed-use office and commercial complex spanning a city block in downtown Kitchener. The project transforms a defunct tannery into a hub for the area's growing technology sector, with office tenants including Communitech and Google, public courtyards and event space, a health clinic, and workspace for local artisans, among them a photographer and a cabinet maker.
Design concept and solution: Seeking to bridge Kitchener's industrial heritage and its recent tech-sector activity, the RAWdesign team wanted to streamline the site's maze of buildings and add-ons without uprooting the existing artisan-tenants. RAW preserved the masonry shell and divided the site into three main buildings: two devoted to tech offices and one housing workspace and retail for the artisans. The architects removed the tannery's smaller structures to create pathways and reveal the logic of the block. They kept the interior spaces shallow and cut courtyards into the site to maximize daylight. To preserve the tannery's industrial texture, they painted the steel structure, sandblasted the existing brickwork, and refinished the wood floors on the upper levels.