LOCATION: Barrie, Ontario


TECHNICAL DESIGN LEADERSHIP: Michael Poitras, Principal-in-Charge

CLIENT: AG-Nav Manufacturing Ltd.


  • No. of storeys: 2
  • Total floor area (addition): 9,100 ft2 (845 m2)
  • Loading docks: 13
  • Parking: 20

  • Vertical planks of Wiarton stone
  • White curtain wall
  • Silver window wall
  • White porcelain tile roof, soffit & fascia
  • Sandblasted glass block
  • Existing concrete block warehouse painted buff colour
  • Outdoor landscaping

  • Entrance foyer
  • GPS manufacturing area
  • 1st & 2nd floor offices
  • Additional warehouse space
  • Washrooms
COST: $3.5 million
COMPLETION: Project cancelled

Just minutes south of Barrie, Ontario and east of Highway 400, can be found AG-Nav, a leading manufacturer of GPS navigation equipment for small crop-duster airplanes. Prior to our involvement, all that existed at this site was a one-storey concrete block office building fronting Churchill Drive, attached to a two-storey concrete block warehouse stretching north, to the rear of the property.

Programmatically speaking, the task was straightforward: provide space to manufacture a new line of GPS products and ample space for new offices. With this understanding in place, we rotated the addition 90 degrees to the warehouse building, resulting in a longer, more dramatic building on Churchill Drive, which simultaneously allowed for a façade better able to capture natural southern light.

Further, this elongated building (east/west) was now capable of concealing the unsightly trucks, docked at the numerous loading bays behind it, making for a much tidier looking site. With that, we clad the existing concrete block office building in vertical “planks” of buff Wiarton stone, complete with a new lower level entrance, and in-filled the existing openings with new windows.

To the east we added the new manufacturing zone, whose southern façade is made entirely from sandblasted glass block, allowing sunlight to enter the space, while maintaining privacy from Churchill Drive and the adjacent parking lot.

At its mid-point, a long horizontal “slot” window has been added, giving those entering the building a quick “peek” at the GPS manufacturing process taking place within.

At the second storey of this contemporary industrial architecture design we added 15-ft (4.5 m) tall offices, composed entirely of glass on the south side, with small windows and vertical planks of Wiarton stone to its backside. Here, as one approaches the exterior windows from within, a sense of “flight” is replicated, as one visually soars above the parking area below.

The essence of flight is further captured with the building’s “wing-like” white enameled roof cantilevering out from its east end, along with a giant spiral stair inside the building, complete with propeller-like wood treads. Strategically, this cantilevered roof, along with a change in grade, creates an architectural “transition” demarcating the public side of the project (south) from its more utilitarian backside (north).

As one comes to understand the project as a completed architectural vision, it becomes obvious that it speaks directly to crop dusting, with the tall glassy façades and roof alluding to flight while the vertical buff coloured Wiarton stone planks cladding the building speak of nature and the soil that permits crops to grow.