Refurbishing any building – particularly a much-loved icon like the former Hudson’s Bay Building in Victoria – is never simple. And when the icon is as exquisitely detailed as The Hudson, it becomes a project of epic proportion.
Since November 2007, our team at The Hudson has been focused on one thing: creating ultra-stylish, modernist residences within the magnificent wrapping of an historic landmark.
On the exterior, it’s all about restored Georgian grandeur. We’ve been painstakingly preserving all the beautiful things that make the building a visual standout. Each of the 243 windows – in 27 different styles, shapes and sizes – has being lovingly refurbished. The ornate terra cotta work is receiving a similarly meticulous treatment.
On the interior, it’s all about thoroughly modern living. That means in addition to the exposed heritage columns and ceilings, there’ll be geothermal heating and cooling, radiant in-floor bathroom heating, deep soaker tubs, wood flooring and earth-friendly touches like plug-ins for electric vehicles and low-VOC paints.
It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, frankly. A painstaking, demanding – but extremely rewarding – whirlwind. And it’s really coming together. A particularly productive summer – with the last of the heavy lifting all wrapped up and the window refurbishing completed – means that we’re on track for completion in the summer of 2010.
Granted, we’ve still got a lot to do. But we think what’s been accomplished over the last two years is pretty astounding. Here’s the quick re-cap:
Fall 2007 With sledgehammers in full force, the ‘great chimney’ is toppled and the team flexes its significant collective muscle in stripping down the building to its astonishingly beautiful bones. Clearing the debris becomes an ongoing chore. The considerably more elegant (though equally monumental) job of refurbishing the terra cotta begins.
Winter 2007/2008 New year, new efficiencies. The boilers are removed to bring modern efficiency to future Hudson residents. The removal of the elevators signals the symbolic end of the iconic department store.
Spring 2008 The roof opens up and sunshine streams in. Sandblasting reveals an exquisitely textured ceiling – hidden away for a century. Vintage Woodworks sets up shop to begin work on the historic windows. Meanwhile, the dusty and backbreaking task of removing the old concrete continues.
Summer 2008 Demolition continues on the adjacent parking lot. The crew sets the stage for the new roof and the fifth and sixth floors. Rubble is recycled for use in future projects. Windows are framed, and timber is brought in to shore up existing slabs.
Fall 2008 Seismic upgrades are underway. Excavation begins for the footings for the residential service elevator. Slabs for the new courtyard and mezzanine are poured. The circa-1913 balustrades are refurbished.
Winter 2008/2009 Balconies are constructed and the new roof is formed.
Spring 2009 More formwork is underway and columns are restored. And through it all, rubble removal continues.
Summer/Fall 2009 Concrete, concrete, concrete. Courtyard balconies take shape and slabs are poured. Finishing touches are made on the terra cotta work. On the business side of things, less than 40 heritage homes remain for sale, as Victoria’s real estate market rebounds admirably – and even sets new records.
In less than 10 months, the transformation will be complete. For more information and a month-by-month update on The Hudson’s progress –complete with photographs – visit hudsonliving.ca.