Ortona Armoury Rehabilitation

Located in the historical neighbourhood of Rossdale, the Ortona Armoury dates back to 1914 when it was built as a warehouse and stable for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Over the years, the building has served different functions and housed a broad range of companies. For the past 40 years, it has been a creative hub for a wide range of arts organizations and artists. In 2004, the Ortona was acquired by Edmonton and designated as a municipal historic resource.

The building has seen a few modest revitalization projects that restored elements of the building, including the reinstatement of the Hudson Bay Company sandstone cartouches and the repointing of some exterior masonry walls. To bring the building to code, the Ortona desperately needed significant upgrades including, the addition of a ventilation system, the abatement of hazardous materials, restoration of the historic exterior windows, and other substantial improvements.

In the design development report prepared by the architectural firm, the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative Inc, they used these four primary lenses in creating the design:

  • a desire to honour arts culture
  • an imperative to protect the building’s heritage
  • a requirement to improve energy efficiency
  • a need to optimize program spaces for future leasing considerations.

Address the building code deficiencies and working to provide additional space for the arts, the design team enclosed the existing courtyard. By converting some of the exterior walls into interior walls with this design, it will improve energy performance and highlight the existing masonry.

Other design elements include the removal or simplification of non-structural partitions. This was done to showcase the building’s structural and material heritage and create a more open-ended infrastructure for cultural production and dissemination. The construction of the new wall assemblies will include plywood backing to support frequent mounting and demounting of artwork.

Arts Habitat will continue to be a collaborative partner on this project and bring you updates in the coming months. If you’d like to read the full report by the Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative, you can access it by clicking here.