Accolades continue to stream in for architect and UWindsor professor Jason Grossi for his work on the John Muir Public Library.
The newest branch of the Windsor Public Library is one of three recipients of the Ontario Library Association’s 2021 Library Architectural and Design Transformation Award. The award was presented at a virtual ceremony July 14.
The Mill Street building in Windsor’s historic Sandwich district opened in 2019. It is housed in a former firehall built in 1921 and a stable dating back to the 1850s. The reimagining of the heritage buildings was entrusted to Grossi, principal at Studio g+G Inc. Architect, and co-ordinator of UWindsor’s Visual Arts in the Built Environment program.
The engineer on the project was William Tape, a sessional instructor in UWindsor’s Faculty of Engineering.
Grossi said the project was a challenging one. The two buildings had different floor elevations and required the use of historic materials. Abandoned for so long, they needed considerable restoration.
Grossi retained the three-storey hose tower in the design, enclosing it in glass so it now serves as an observation tower overlooking Sandwich Town. An interior suspension bridge connects the former fire hall and stable.
The Ontario Library Association heaped praise on the adaptive reuse of the Mill Street building.
“The renovation of the historic fire hall with its glazed lantern on the hose tower and bay doors create a beacon and welcoming façade to the community,” said the judges. “The interior of the library provides a spacious flexible main space that welcomes you to explore the surrounding semi-private spaces and integrated restored 19th Century stable building. The restoration and linking of the two heritage buildings has created a contemporary branch library that welcomes its community.”
This is but the latest laurel for the project. Last year, the project was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation and the City of Windsor’s Built Heritage Award.
Grossi said he is proud of the project.
“It’s a historic place that resonates with everyone because what was once an abandoned building has become the most public of places — a public library.
“It’s a place for everybody.”