Retreat on the Main

This major renovation was completed in June 2019 and was the first of a two-phase adaptive reuse project on an early 1900s Greystone building on Saint-Laurent boulevard, know affectionally as ‘The Main’, which had previously served as a toy store on the ground floor and warehouse on the upper two floors. Our client wanted to restore the building to its original function which had two two-floor apartments above the commercial spaces. This phase also featured the restoration of the building envelope, including the roof, windows, doors, cornice, and replacement of several large stones on the main façade of the building. Extensive work was done to restructure the masonry facade on Saint-Laurent using tie-back rods, steel cables and steel pattress plates.

The 1500-square-foot units are designed as compact apartments composed of five bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office as well as a rooftop terrace that is accessed off the back of the living spaces on the lower floor. Above the main staircase, there is a large skylight that brings light down from the roof level to the center of the living spaces two floors below. As a result, natural light floods the living spaces from both sides of the building as well as from above.

The open-riser staircase in each apartment features solid wood treads that appear to float between the steel plate guardrail and walls. This also allows light to filter down from above and be reflected into the space below. The guard was designed as a ribbon that unfurls from one level to the other and creates a focal piece connecting the two floors. It is built as a self-supporting series of painted steel plates with folds that reveal the handrail and integrate a concealed accent LED light. Although the stair is painted dark grey, the smooth metal panels and satin paint reflect the light above and lighten the perception of this massive sculptural element in the space.

The kitchens feature a large island with seating for four and a sealed brick backsplash that is accentuated with a concealed LED light in the black upper cabinets. The feel of this space is extended due in part to the large opening to the rooftop terrace which receives sunlight for the majority of the day. Sightlines are further directed in the length of the living space with a minimal, linear suspended light above the kitchen island.

Intentionally, very little colour was used in the design of the apartments in order for the refurbished red brick walls to take center stage. The result is a light yet calming atmosphere – a perfect retreat for life on the hustle and bustle of ‘The Main’.

The second phase of the project (not pictured) was completed in January 2020 and included the replacement of the commercial façade as well as the complete renovation of the ground floor and basement commercial spaces. This work included the excavation of the basement to gain extra height, redo underground plumbing, pouring footings for the new two-floor steel structure, installing a new ventilation and dehumidification system and adding a french drain along the perimeter of the field stone foundation.

Project type

Adaptive reuse, renovation, residential

Completion date

Summer 2019


Alain Mousseau, structural engineer *^Jonathan Goguen-Manning, architect

Photo credits

Steve Montpetit, Yousef Farasat, Thomas Evans