Building construction update


“You gotta blow the roof off your heart to let the universe in!” Lou Reed.

Wondering what’s been going on at the CommunityWise building? Over the past year, a major exterior construction project has been underway. The Historic YWCA Rehabilitation project by the City of Calgary is the most significant restoration effort at the building in over 40 years.

Part of the scope of work was the complete renewal and replacement of the roof.

Highlights of the roof work include:

– Complete replacement of all of the red tiles (supplied by the same manufacturer that supplied the originals over 110 years ago!)
– New copper gutters (how long before green patina shows?)
– New and more downspouts
– Repair and rebuild of the roof structure to historic standards. A roof is so much more than wood and shingles!

There are 7 layers to this roof. It is beautiful but most importantly much needed. This work has been done by people who really have a heart and skillset for heritage construction and it shows.

Here’s to our new roof and roofs everywhere!


Another part of the work of the Construction project at CommunityWise organized by the City of Calgary has been the repair, refurbishment, and upgrade of the windows at the Historic YWCA. 

This meant completely removing and rebuilding 110 window sashes and adding extra storm windows. For each, new window weights and rope systems were installed or repaired, new latches and locking mechanisms were put in, repainting with non toxic linseed oil paint took place, and so so much more. 

Now all of the windows work as they were originally designed to. In fact, about 80% of the windows still have their original glass. Much of the original wood was repaired and reused rather than thrown out. 

If you look at the picture with the side glass view you can see the tell tale waviness of old glass to it. Older glass was made by heating and blowing which formed a “ripple effect” that also distorts the view. It’s beautiful.

Investment in the windows has enormous benefits to users of the building and the overall protection of the building itself. Without having forced air like most buildings, these improvements allow for complete ventilation and cross flow in a rather simple but very effective and easily maintainable design. The addition of the storm windows helps insulate rooms much more from heat loss and noise. 

The refurbishment of the windows significantly protects the building envelope from effects of rain and weather and will continue to for ages to come. 

It might sound extreme but the impact that this will have on nonprofit and community efforts that take place in the building and the opportunities this contributes to is huge. The City of Calgary should be proud of this work and their commitment to the building and historic conservation. We are delighted.

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