Cambridge Old Post Office and Idea Exchange

Cambridge, Ontario

2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award (Transformative Projects)

Until 2012, Cambridge’s 1885 masonry post office, listed as a National Historic Site and located on the bank of the Grand river, was in serious disrepair. The community in Cambridge saw this as an opportunity to preserve a historic building while creating new social infrastructure. A collaboration between the City of Cambridge and Idea Exchange, the project involved wrapping a 9,000-square-foot transparent pavilion around two sides of the the old structure, while sensitively rehabilitating the original building. Today, the building, now called The Old Post Office and Idea Exchange, houses Canada’s first “bookless” library.

An arm of the Cambridge Public Library, the structure offers Cambridge residents free access to an array of spaces for learning and creativity, including a black box theatre, film and audio recording suites, a laser cutter, 3-D printers, soldering stations, vinyl cutters, and wood and metal workshop tools. A floating glass boardroom and a large exterior rooftop terrace and green roof overlook the river and provide up-close views of the heritage building, including its newly restored slate roof. The creatively reconceived Old Post Office and Idea Exchange has blended the old and the new to revitalize the building to be a distinguished landmark for all ages of the community and a hallmark of innovation.

Owners: The Idea Exchange
Design Architect and Prime Consultant: RDHA (Tyler Sharp, Principal and Designer; and Juan Caballero, Intern Architect)
Heritage Architects: Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd. (Kelly Gilbride, Partner and Senior Heritage Architect)
Structural Engineers: Gerry Zegerius, Heritage Structural Engineer, Tacoma Engineers Inc.; and Andrew Dionne, Engineer, WSP
Additional Key Players: Slobodanka Lekic, Manager of Building Design & Construction, City of Cambridge

The Cambridge Old Post Office and Idea Exchange project was nominated by Kelly Gilbride, Partner and Senior Heritage Architect, Stevens Burgess Architects Ltd. and Tyler Sharp, Principal and Designer, RDHA.

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