How heritage building conservation delivers sustainable outcomes
RATIO wrote this on Feb 17

The conservation of heritage buildings results in economic, cultural and environmental benefits to communities. Municipalities see the impact of heritage conservation through civic pride and a sense of place with architectural diversity. Economic benefits are felt through tourism, enhanced property values and employment.

“Heritage conservation has been portrayed as the alternative to economic development, ‘either we have historic preservation, or we have economic growth.’ That is a false choice. In fact, heritage-based economic strategies can advance a wide range of public policy priorities.”

– Donovan Rypkema, European Cultural Heritage Forum 2005

The investment in heritage conservation — whether through preservation, rehabilitation, restoration or adaptive reuse —  aligns with municipal sustainability strategies that will drive economic, cultural and environmental benefits to its residents. RATIO has worked on a number of heritage projects that have turned into award-winning, much loved public facilities.

The Britannia Heritage Shipyards in Steveston, BC is a long-standing client of RATIO, and we’ve partnered with them for nearly two decades. Every project here comes with its own unique set of challenges, but design excellence, adaptive reuse and historic preservation connect them all. We collaborate closely with local community and political groups to ensure the continued relevance of this historical location as well as capture the broader socioeconomic impact it had on the lower mainland of British Columbia. Visit the project photos here.

In the early 1980’s the City of Vancouver was considering a proposal to tear down four heritage buildings, including the former Main Post Office, constructed in 1905. Upon closer examination of the site, we proposed a much different solution. RATIO, in association with Richard Henriquez Architects, undertook a significant renovation and adaptive reuse project that preserved the heritage structures while creating a modern atrium space that linked them together to create the Sinclair Centre. Today, the buildings on site have all been recognized for their heritage significance at both the federal and municipal levels and the Sinclair Centre project has received numerous awards.  Our Sinclair Centre project photos include drawings of a proposed  new concept for  an upgrade to the Federal Service Building within the centre.

RATIO’s  work at the Britannia Mine Museum on the west coast of BC focused on two key challenges: creating a clear visual identity that unifies the entire facility, and respecting the site’s heritage through adaptive reuse of the existing structure. Today, the museum is a British Columbia icon. Both the museum and the copper-clad Beaty Lundin Visitor Centre Ratio designed have won numerous architectural awards. Visitors to the museum have more than doubled since the completion of the project.

The award-winning Stave Falls Visitor Centre was once home to British Columbia’s primary source of power.  In 1995, when the dam was decommissioned RATIO consulted with BC Hydro to reimagine it as a state-of-the-art museum and education centre. Now a National Historic Site, it preserves an important part of the province’s history to share with visitors.

These projects are testaments to the success of heritage conservation.