January 15, 2013
Kitchener courthouse made with key materials
In the case of the soon-to-be-completed Waterloo Region Consolidated Courthouse in downtown Kitchener, the materials used on both the interior and the exterior form an integral part of the building’s image.
Not only were the materials chosen for their durability, ease of maintenance and security, but they help define the courthouse as a major public institution that reflects the local landscape, Infrastructure Ontario and the Ministry of the Attorney General said in a joint release.
The stone walls around the public plaza and along Frederick Street are a “carefully-chosen” limestone called Ledge Rock. It is interspersed with a darker variety of stone called Wiarton Black, to give the appearance of layers of sedimentary rock formation.
In keeping with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) best practices, emphasis was placed on the selection of local materials, so the stone is from the escarpment and quarried in Owen Sound.
Within the building, more refined finishing treatments were used on the stone. Along the public corridors that serve the courtrooms, as well as in the waiting areas and the public counter areas, a horizontal pattern of honed limestone tiles was used with a single dark band of tile that is coordinated with the courtroom signage.
Prior to any stone being laid on the site, the stone masons constructed wall mock-ups to confirm the appropriate selection and detailing of the stone, as well as to select the colour and characteristics of the mortar joints.
While much of the stone installation was fairly routine work for the masons, there were some challenges to overcome when installing the stone on the curved walls within the courthouse.
To avoid excess overhang on the inside corners, the stone lengths were shortened, resulting in a “very regular, unnatural” look. To resolve this issue, the masons avoided placing similar-sized stones side-by-side.
“The stone selection, along with the installation methods used by the masons on site, helped achieve the desired look and feel of the new courthouse.”
Masonry contractor was Kappeler Masonry of Waterloo.
Delivered using an alternative finance and procurement model, the new, multi-storey building will have space to accommodate 30 courtrooms, including a high-security courtroom that can accommodate multiple accused, and eight judicial conference rooms.
The courthouse will have barrier-free, public access to courtrooms, witness stands, jury boxes and spectator areas.
The new 446,000-square-foot courthouse will consolidate Superior Court of Justice and Ontario Court of Justice services in one facility. Currently, the courts operate from three separate locations.
An Infrastructure Ontario spokesperson said the stone was chosen by NORR and approved by the planning, design and compliance team as a material “because it met the overarching principles that the courthouse is designed to reflect — dignity, functionality value, security and durability.
“The Grand River, a prominent waterway in the region, also played a part in inspiring the material selection for the new courthouse.”
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