SAINT JOHN– The City of Saint John gave media outlets a sneak peek of the historic Saint John City Market tower restoration on Wednesday.
The restoration, which is still in progress, includes restoring and redesigning the inside of the tower, which will house city offices when completed. The tower has been vacant since several non-profit organizations were forced to leave after flooding in 2014.
The work is being done by Murdock & Boyd, Saint John architecture firm. Project architect Malcolm Boyd says the interior of towers is currently stripped down to its bare bones, which includes lots of exposed brick, beams, and new giant windows which were recently unveiled as part of the City Market’s exterior restorations. He says the 2014 flooding forced them to strip everything down.
“Originally, we were going to do our design without knowing what the conditions were, so we suggested we strip this thing down and take all the unknown out of the equation and expose everything that we can,” said Boyd.
Boyd says that over the years people just kept building on top of existing interiors.
“I don’t know how many renovations they did over the decades, but they would just lay floor on top of floor, they wouldn’t take anything out,” he says. “They would just keep adding material. The ceiling was the same way, they would keep adding ceiling below ceiling.”
Check out the work on the Saint John City Market Tower so far:
Stripping everything down allowed workers to reinforce the tower’s structure where needed and now they are ready to proceed with the design of the new city offices.
“To this point, we’ve interviewed all the various city departments that are going to move in here and they explained what their requirements are for their space, how many closed offices, how many open cubicles, if they need a kitchenette, if they need a meeting room, et cetera. That’s all been discussed and all laid out in the plan and I think we have final approval to go to the next stage,” says Boyd.
He says they will be making their best efforts to showcase the building’s historical characteristics where possible.
“We have exterior brick walls that required a lot of structural remediation, so, unfortunately, those pieces of brick wall will be covered up with drywall. But where we can, where some of the chimneys are and where there are distances between windows, we’ll do out best to keep that brick exposed,” says Boyd.
“The ceilings on the second and third floor will be sandblasted and left exposed. The fourth-floor ceiling, which is the roof, is going to be insulated from the underside and that will have to be covered up with drywall.”
The tower restoration is part of the $7.2-million City Market Upgrade project, which started back in 2015. The tower exterior and interior restoration, which is part of phase two of the project, is expected to be completed sometime in summer 2019.
After this phase is completed, the city will focus on HVAC and lighting upgrades; roof replacement for the main hall, and upgrades to the solarium seating area.
The entire Saint John City Market Upgrade Project is expected to be complete by the end of 2019 or early 2020.