Fresh face of Calgary's historic City Hall to be revealed over coming weeks

Calgarians will soon be able to see the results of years of work to renovate the historic City Hall and its more than 15,000 sandstone bricks.

Scaffolding, protective covering will be fully removed by end of June

The push to restore Calgary's Old city Hall came after a piece of sandstone fell from the top level in 2015. Now that work has finished. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Calgarians will soon be able to see the results of years of work to renovate the historic City Hall and its more than 15,000 sandstone bricks.

Old City Hall has been hidden since May 2017 with hard white covering featuring an image of the building. The covering protected the aging building exterior and construction crews, who worked through summer and winter to repair the original sandstone face.

Now that protective front is being taken down, as the work has finished. The removal of the covering and scaffolding is expected to be down by the end of June.

It will reveal the newly freshened face of Old City Hall at the heart of Calgary.

The rehabilitation of the sandstone face has been "a labour of love" that will keep the building looking sharp for another 100 years, facility management acting director Darrel Bell said in a statement Wednesday.

An inside look at the restoration process. The scaffolding will soon be removed. (City of Calgary)

"What Calgarians will see when historic City Hall is unwrapped is a refreshed, rejuvenated version of the familiar landmark that has graced Calgary for more than a century," Bell said.

The project, which was pegged to cost $34 million in a 2018 estimate, began after a piece of sandstone fell from the top of the building.

Now that the restoration is done, the city expects to welcome tenants to the building for September, the announcement said.

Calgary administration and councillors will continue working out of the Calgary Municipal Building next door.

Sandstone search

Original construction on City Hall began in 1907 at a time when the city was home to more than a dozen sandstone quarries. More than 15,000 pieces of sandstone were pieced together to create the distinct look. 

Each one had to be assessed by construction crews, and cleaned and shored up individually. Roughly 2,400 had deteriorated beyond repair, so were instead replaced.

Darrel Bell is the acting facility management director on the Old City Hall restoration project. He says it's about preserving Calgary's heritage. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Crews had to carefully search for replacement bricks that match the old ones, Bell said. Sandstone can be found in green, tan, red, pink and black. Some of the new bricks look lighter than the originals but will weather with time to better match.

"[F]rom a distance, the building will look the same uniform tan," Bell said. "However, when you view the building up close, you'll notice that each sandstone block has its own subtle range of rich colour variations that are inherent to sandstone."

WATCH | An inside look at the extensive historic Calgary City Hall restoration:

Old City Hall reno about heritage preservation

CBC News Calgary

3 years ago
Old City Hall reno about heritage preservation 2:33




To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?