Completed by his office just a year before his death, Mies van der Rohe’s Standard Oil gas station at Nun’s Island, south-west of Montreal, Canada, has been refurbished for use as an activity centre for young and elderly people by FABG Architects.
The structure consisted of volumes for servicing and sales, a central pump island, and a unifying roof. A year after its closure in 2008, the gas station was declared a heritage building. Following its recent restoration, the 60-member senior group uses the larger volume to play bridge, prepare communal meals, dance or host lecturers. The younger group occupies the smaller volume under educational supervision to play games, listen to music, and organise parties and events.
The envelope was restored by dismantling and repairing the corroded curtain wall, repointing brickwork and repainting the structure. New discreet mechanical and electrical systems include geothermal wells below the surrounding tarmac, which help diminish the size of mechanical equipment and eliminate the need for a rooftop cooling structure.
New stainless steel ‘gas pumps’, housing the air intake and outtake, are linked to the HVAC system. Formal unity and simplicity is enhanced by simply finishing interior elements in black (youth side) or white (senior side). The strength of the roof as a unifying device is reinforced by using the same rhythm of linear fluorescent lighting
through into the interior spaces (T-5 tubes on dimmers). Transparency is augmented by opening the view on the long axis and specifying low-iron glass.
First published in AT230, July/ August 2012