The Pump House Steam Museum (PHSM) is a cultural facility owned by the City of Kingston, part of its Museums Network. This property is designated as being of historic and/or architectural significance under the Ontario Heritage Act.
The PHSM is undergoing a multi-year program of renewal, rehabilitation, and retrofit to better serve the City. MTBA was retained to review the existing original part of the building (c.1849) known as the “Engineerium”, in order to provide design for and review construction of a fit-up for this under-utilized space, as the Temporary Exhibit Hall, which can be alternately used as a revenue-generating rental space.
This “Engineerium Space” is the only remaining portion from the 1849 limestone Pump House where original elements, building techniques and materials are combined with a unique open space. This set of special characteristics suggests a simple, sophisticated and respectful intervention that fully develops its potential as both an exhibit space with flexibility for mounting of temporary exhibits and further flexibility to act at other times as an income-generating reception, display, and meeting space.
As the original stone walls are recognized as one of the most important overall character elements, the design concept proposed a new perimeter floor “trench” alongside the north, south and east stone walls to mark the intersection of new and existing elements. This “trench” will be in fact a gap in the new flooring required to even the floor of the space and therefore will require little or no actual concrete “trenching”. The floor surface will however be continuous as a flush-mounted walkable grille and will cover the gap, much like the existing floor trench is covered by steel plate. New “wall wash” lights located within this perimeter grille will focus the visitor’s attention on the limestone walls’ presence and texture, while providing a neutral back-drop to the exhibits.
With exhibit panels positioned to maximize space use, the room should easily accommodate different occupancies, with some space allocated for service personnel/equipment. The design concept of simplicity/reuse of existing where possible/maximize flexibility, meshes well with the heritage conservation approach of minimal intervention for this rehabilitation project, the proposed concept aims to:
- Optimize the industrial aesthetic by maintaining;
- Utilize industrial materials and devices where possible in the new interventions
- These materials will also simultaneously be durable, low-maintenance, budget-conscious and available locally
- Existing mechanical and electrical systems will be left exposed;