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LOCATION: Guelph, Ontario 

ARCHITECT: Adamson Associates Architects 

DESIGN LEADERSHIP: Michael Poitras, Partner-in-Charge of Design 

COMPETITION: Open Design Competition – First Place 

CLIENT: City of Guelph


  • No. of storeys: 3
  • Total floor area: 130,000 ft2 (12,077 m2)
  • Below grade parking: 42 (including 3 barrier free)
  • Loading docks: 2


  • Limestone (textured & honed)
  • Curtain wall
  • Copper roof & fascias
  • Black fascias & balconies (interior)
  • Wood soffits & ceilings
  • Silver perforated metal ceilings
  • Etched glass panels
  • Wiarton stone courtyards
  • Outdoor landscaping

General Program:

  • Council chamber
  • Mayor’s office
  • Councillors’ offices (8)
  • 3-storey atrium/indoor public space
  • Administration offices
  • Café
  • 3rd floor public terrace
  • Reflecting pool/skating rink
  • Modern glass clock with re-purposed historic bell
  • Outdoor public space

LEED: Silver

Cost: $50 million

Completion: Unbuilt

Guelph Civic Administration Centre

Our winning entry for this city hall competition focussed on clarifying, revealing and incorporating Guelph’s historic city hall (circa 1856) and a remnant stone wall – part of the “winter fair building” -which was entombed within an abandoned arena at the city hall site.

Using two existing entrances on the winter fair wall as markers, we organized the horizontal and vertical circulation in the addition to this contemporary building, as well as its mechanical distribution and public washroom requirements. Perpendicular to those entrances, the addition’s major programmatic elements became layered like a series of parallel bars: forecourt, reflecting pool, glass foyer, winter fair wall, atrium, administration departments and rear court. All in all, the addition became an interweaving of historical elements and new municipal requirements, using the “winter fair wall” as its formal architectural guide.

To keep the street view focussed on the historic city hall, the new addition was set back further from the street than the old city hall, and was partially screened on its front side with newly planted maple trees. The historic city hall also remains the main focus from Guelph’s highest point – Our Lady Immaculate church – thanks to a reflective, water-filled roof. This roof, along with the reflecting pool at grade, renders the glassy addition as a virtually invisible glittering reflection of light, while simultaneously allowing the old city hall directly adjacent to stand out as the predominant building.

To the forefront of the historic city hall and its addition is a narrow multi-purpose courtyard for both public and city hall events. To increase the use of this narrow courtyard we proposed to pave the street adjacent (Carden Street) in the same honed granite. As such, where large public events require more space, Carden Street can be closed, extending the courtyard right up to the existing buildings across the street.

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