June 2016

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J UNE 2016 | 63 The Janion RENDERINGS COURTESY RELIANCE PROPERTIES The Janion by ROBIN BRUNET A bout the only thing the former Janion Hotel didn't acquire in its decades-long existence as a legendary derelict structure on Victoria's inner harbour was a reputation for being haunted. Other than that, the long and narrow Victorian brick edifice, built in 1891, stood with its entrance barricaded and its windows boarded, seemingly destined for ruin. "The Janion was well known by many local architects, all of whom hoped that one day a developer would bring it back to life," says Shaun McIntyre, principal for Merrick Architecture. Enter Reliance Properties, whose Vancouver-based president Jon Stovell was well acquainted with similar heritage structures due to his involvement with other Gastown projects at Merrick's Vancouver studio. "I've always noticed that beautiful boarded up building, and upon further investigation I learned that its walls and the foundations were generally sound, which was key," he says. Reliance bought the building for $2.49 million in 2012, and Merrick's managing associate Darryl Jonas notes, "Jon also purchased from Transport Canada the waterfront site in front of the old hotel, and this enabled Reliance to develop The Janion Waterfront Micro-Lofts." At 122 condominiums, with an average size per loft of 360 square feet, The Janion Waterfront Micro-Lofts building retains all the architectural appeal of the former hotel, and it incorporates a new concrete edifice that imparts a vaguely industrial ambiance; urban chic with bold roots in the past. "Only the front of The Janion was ever meant to be noticed, but when neighbouring buildings fell away, its side walls became its defining feature – and we decided to extend this dimension further with the new structure," says McIntyre. The building now has a new front along Pandora street and a public plaza that is part of the new Johnson Street bridge. The micro-lofts use less energy and require less maintenance than standard apartments, and with the number of built-in features in each unit (such as flip-up beds and flat screens plus a full package of integrated appliances), the need for furnishings and other household items is kept to a minimum. The addition of a boardroom and dining room, plus a rooftop lounge and outdoor deck with full kitchen and barbecue, means residents can live with style without ever feeling confined. "Micro-lofts lend themselves very well to buildings with shallow depth, by aligning the lofts on either side of the building with a corridor in between," says Stovell. The decision to restore the Janion's facade meant it would be challenging to match the building to its new waterfront structure; additionally, the new structure was seven storeys and The Janion only three. "So in order to reduce the appearance of height discrepancy we decided to pair floors," says Jonas. "We paired four floors in the middle to seem like two floors, with a strong masonry band running along every other level to support this effect." The mixed use of concrete and masonry and devices such as a recessed entranceway in the centre helped unite the two buildings. Of the condition of the old hotel, McIntyre says, "Fortunately, it was a time capsule: no renovations had ever been performed, which made restoration easier. It basically required repointing, seismic upgrades and a new roof. The longitudinal masonry walls contributed to its seismic performance, which was further enhanced by steel frames." However, Stovell says that in order to create the micro-lofts, "We retained the main central staircase and skylight but little else. We hired a photographer to take photos of the hotel prior to restoration, to be included in a book that we gifted to residents of the renovated building." Leon Plett, managing principal of Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd., says in the process of seismically upgrading The Janion, the entire basement was lowered by about four feet to provide space for new foundations, resident storage and mechanical equipment. "So in the fall of 2014 the contractor tore out the west wall, brought in mini-excavators and spent several months digging," he says. In addition, the new structure's close proximity to the waterfront required a unique feature. "A stormwater detention space in the basement was created to slow the flow of stormwater from the roof of the new building. The detention space is below the high tide mark and fills with tidewater at high tides," explains Plett. Wayne Knight, president of Knight Contracting Ltd., says one of the main challenges in the construction process was lack of space: "We had a new bridge construction on one side, an operating parking lot on the other, the waterfront at one end and the historic Janion facade on Store Street opposite. Fortunately, we managed to rent space from our neighbour, and as soon as we replaced the joists and renovated the first floor of the old hotel, we made that our temporary offices." Knight says it took three months just to remove all the old plaster and lead paint – during which, for the sake of efficiency, the foundations of the new structure were laid. The large number of suites in a relatively small space required a huge concentration of services, with Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd. and sub-trades, having to perform extensive roughing-in. "Also, precise measurements were required because the in-suite cabinets, basins, toilets and so forth were high- end and imported from offshore, and we didn't want our installation crew to be delayed with last minute adjustments," explains Knight. Meanwhile, enormous French doors paired with new Juliette balconies were installed in the north and south facades to bring in light, and the east facade underwent structural steel fortification and column and cornice restoration. As for landscaping, Adrian Small, principal of Small & Rossell Landscape Architects, points out that the majority of his work, except for a roof garden, was hardscape. "We were involved in the development of a seawall of engineered concrete built on natural mortared rock, which not only anchors the new building but supports an outdoor terrace space," he says. "Marble pavers have been specified to convey quality and sophistication, and red brick salvaged from The Janion restoration will be used in outdoor protected spaces, along with the salvaged Janion vault door – which will probably be used in a courtyard setting." For his part, Stovell is thrilled to have saved The Janion from ruin. "Reliance is well known for its restoration projects, and this undertaking was more challenging and difficult than we thought – but the effort was well worth it. This is a beautiful building and a real hallmark for Victoria." A LOCATION 1612 Store Street, Victoria, B.C. OWNER/DEVELOPER Reliance Properties ARCHITECT Merrick Architecture GENERAL CONTRACTOR Knight Contracting Ltd. STRUCTURAL CONSULTANT Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd. MECHANICAL CONSULTANT Jade West Engineering Co. Ltd. ELECTRICAL CONSULTANT Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT Small & Rossell Landscape Architects TOTAL SIZE 50,000 square feet TOTAL COST $15 million 10:51 AM

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