O’Brien House: Restoring a Heritage Building

O’Brien House: Restoring a Heritage Building

In 2017, our team received an extraordinary contract: Beaudoin Canada was going to restore a heritage building. This building is well known under the name of O’Brien or Kincora House for the Gatineau natives who knew it … in 1930.

Instantly, the whole team was excited to work on this unique construction project: the O’Brien House is part of the Directory of Quebec’s Cultural Heritage, named as a real estate project. Occupied for 34 years, this jewel has never welcomed visitors since 1964.

In fact, in January 2014, Charles Thériault of LeDroit newspaper mentioned that the National Capital Commission (NCC) was looking for a new vocation for the O’Brien House, “the same one that was used during the conference that led to the famous Meech Lake agreement , in 1987. “

Abandoned for several decades, this historic place has been transformed thanks to Beaudoin Canada. The O’Brien House is ready to welcome visitors from all over and has a new vocation: a boutique hotel. In addition, you can discover treasures from the Crown Collection of the NCC’s official residences in the Canadiana Hall exhibit room.

As the revitalization of the O’Brien House sparked the interest of the media, the NCC and the Government of Quebec, our team felt additional motivation. But there’s nothing scary: in all construction projects, team members are working hard to meet the objectives, small or large, mediatized or not. In the following lines, learn how we gave the O’Brien House a second life to.

"This kind of project only happens once in a lifetime. "

Jean, Foreman at Beaudoin Canada.  

O’Brien House: Challenges in Construction

“This kind of project only happens once in a lifetime,” said Jean Bilodeau, Foreman at Beaudoin Canada.

During the project, Mr. Bilodeau made O’Brien his second home. He knows everything about the building because, in his opinion, the revitalization of a historic place requires special attention and requires a lot of research before completing the planning. In fact, you often see it on our website and in our communications: construction project management and planning have been the cornerstone for 30 years. Our project managers study at length to deliver the goods and to avoid unpleasant surprises. Then, our foremen are made aware of the challenges from the beginning, ensuring the quality of the project, but also the respect of deadlines and budget.

Preparation: a key element at Beaudoin

As we entered the O’Brien House, we knew what we needed to do. As Mr. Bilodeau said so well, the team was briefed accordingly: “We had seen lots of pictures, plans … everything was taking form in our heads. When we arrived the first day, we only had to execute what we had planned. One of the greatest strengths of managers is cohesion. We are always aware of everything, and we often go further. “

Knowing and studying the project, Mr. Bilodeau says it was clearer to have a guideline, in the context where the construction team of Beaudoin had to keep the essential instead of demolishing everything.

“Our experts were able to identify the work that had to be done in advance, even if it required more detail, even if we had to go further to meet the new standards. The mandate was clear: ‘’Make the building safe and respect the heritage seal.’’ he added.

Challenges in Construction

As in any project, even though our preparation is adequate, we face daunting challenges. In the revitalization of O’Brien House, we faced:

  • Redesign of building structures
  • Creating universal access to the building

According to the foreman, it was very important to consider the budget, but also the heritage and history of the building.

“For the structure, we spent almost 3 months to make the place safe. The biggest challenge was building a universal access (ramp). But initially, our challenge was to plan the process well. The house is at the top of a mountain. Parking is at the bottom of the mountain. So we were limited to two options: an outdoor lift or a ramp. Our studies have shown that the best solution is to build a ramp. We also know that it’s popular, and it fits in the visual. “

Indeed, it was a great decision. The access ramp also helps people wanting to walk in the forest, while being accessible to people with reduced mobility. Have you ever seen the forest of this place? The panorama is exceptional: we understand why it’s so popular.

So we kept the charm of the O’Brien House. The team loved working on the project, and consider it a favorite! The stone slab entrance, the footbridge in the forest or the ceiling of the Canadiana Hall represent artistic achievements that the team is proud of. Proper planning is the key to success in this type of construction project.

We are proud to have played an important role in this unique project! However, there are other parties who have had essential roles such as:

  • the NCC;
  • CSV architects;
  • Wakefield Mill Developments.

Together, we all played a vital role in the success of the project. It was a pleasure to be accompanied by these very professional teams.

If you would like to complete a building conversion project or a major construction project, contact us now at info@beaudoincanada.com.

Do you want to restore a heritage building? Contact Beaudoin Canada today!