Small Arms Inspection Building

Mississauga, Ontario

Our renovation of the Small Arms Inspection Building aimed to transform the building into a community hub for arts and culture while preserving its distressed state and preventing further deterioration.

 

The Small Arms Inspection Building, part of a heritage-designated WWII munitions factory, was important to the growth of Mississauga’s population. After 1945, the factory began fabricating vehicle parts until it closed in 1974, and fell into a state of decline.

The City of Mississauga engaged us to transform the building into a flexible space for diverse arts and cultural programming. Appreciating the history and “found” nature of the building, our goal was to halt time, but not reverse it completely. We also wanted to minimize the amount of construction waste and new materials required, so our approach to each design decision was based in subtraction: use less, build less. 

We began by removing non-original interior partitions to reveal the historic open plan of the factory floor. Peeling away layers of ceiling material, we were able to reveal and reinstate the original sawtooth skylight that passively illuminated the interior. We also  carefully restored the facility’s wide band of multi-paned windows, protecting this important aspect of the building’s character and further reducing the use of new materials. For the flooring, we opted to patch and buff the existing concrete slab, accepting its imperfections as part of the texture and history of its manufacturing identity. Some modernizations were required to make the building viable for contemporary use, these included accessible washrooms, an A/V room, custodial and storage spaces, and a pantry and service station.

Today the Small Arms Inspection Building is a community-oriented space that is suitable for art shows, farmers’ markets, trade shows, banquets, lectures, and many other types of events. In the warmer months, events spill into a verdant courtyard between the north and south buildings, extending the experience outdoors. Overall, the project preserves and reimagines the heritage building as a magnet for Mississauga’s vibrant community, creating a vital gateway to the lakeshore.