The King Township Administration Centre

Words: Thomas Wilson

Words: Thomas Wilson, Partner, OAA, MRAIC
Photos: David Whittaker 

Working out of a local strip plaza, King Township had outgrown its existing facility and purchased a surplus school property from the local school board for repurposing into a new municipal administration centre.

In the Spring of 2016, the Township of King retained +VG (pronounced “plus-VG”) Architects to undertake the design and construction of their new municipal administration centre. The scope of this project was based on a Strategic Space Needs Assessment and program also developed by +VG in 2015. At the outset of the project, three options were explored, which included options for reusing the existing school building compared to a 100% new facility. A building condition assessment and comparison costing for each option were developed, and the result of this investigation was a fundamental decision to proceed with the demolition of the existing school and a new administration building on the school site. 

A defining characteristic of the Township of King is the presence of a provincially protected Greenbelt Natural Preserve. The new municipal administration building and site are designed to reflect the symbolic importance of this character, and site sustainability features were one of several key factors in the project development.

The Design Process

Working with the Township Steering Committee, the design started in April of 2016. With a decision to proceed with a new build agreed to in the early stages, demolition of the existing school took place over the fall of 2016 while detailed design was ongoing. 

The project was designed using traditional AutoCAD software but was also one of our first larger projects using the BIM application Revit. In 2016 our studio was in the early phases of building our BIM capacity through this new software. In certain ways, the Revit work was a bit experimental: we were looking to really understand how it could improve our design workflow and production quality control. Looking back, some of the techniques we developed on this project have become our standard in BIM production for projects today. 

A key request from the client was to focus on the structure as a building “for the public." This required a design approach that created spaces that could be multi-functional in nature and, in some cases, spaces that were clearly beyond the main administrative mandate of the program.

To achieve this, it was also important for the building to be more than generic office space. It was important to create spaces that were memorable, iconic in nature, and symbolic for the community. 

The project was to have two exterior-like rooms within the centre of the building. One room was the council chamber, and the other was the community gym. These rooms were filled with natural light from the perimeter clerestory windows around both spaces. The gym and council chamber walls were clad with the same brick as on the exterior. Combined with the natural light from the clerestory, the idea was to bring the exterior into the interior of the building.

Approvals were ongoing through the winter of 2017, and the project was tendered in spring 2017. New building construction commenced in August 2018, and the building was ready for staff move-in on time in October of 2018. 

Specialty Consultants

+VG led a team of fourteen sub-consultants for the project, including specialty consultants in audio-visual, acoustics, energy modeling and sustainability.  Audio-visual and acoustic were critical to developing design performance for the main council chambers and larger meeting rooms in the building. 

Our sustainability specialist, Green Reason, was instrumental in leading workshops with the township and other engineers to develop the sustainable design approach for the site and building that we consider one of the key successes of this project.  It was important for the project to lead by example when it came to township values and planning policies related to sustainability. To this end, the building included as part of the design:

  • Ground Source heat pump system for heating and cooling to reduce energy costs and provide zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • High Performance Building Envelop including high performance glazing
  • Heat Recovery Ventilators and Variable speed pumps
  • High efficiency LED lighting systems utilizing the time of day controls, daylight sensors and occupancy sensors
  • 20% of the site designated as Woodland Restoration
  • Stormwater management enhancements like permeable pavers that reduce water quantity and greatly improve water quality flowing to the adjacent wetlands
  • Mitigation measures like bat boxes that support indigenous wildlife and reduce the impact of human development


Our goal was to create a rich palette of materials that would blend in and compliment the beautiful and natural setting. The building is set on the side of a hill overlooking green open space to the south and a forest on three sides. In order to achieve this goal, brick and heavy timber were selected to work together as primary defining materials.

A palette of four types of brick was used. They included a matte red brick, a rich red-purple brick, a grey-red brick, and a rich dark grey brick. A light-colored mortar tied the four different bricks together and enlivened and brightened the darker hues of the brick.

Glu-laminated heavy timber used in an exposed structural configuration becomes a playful sculptural assemblage where one can trace the lines of Spruce-pine-fir (SPF) crisscrossing through the air overhead.  The structural patterning is evocative of heavy timber barn structures so dominant a symbol of rural King. 

Heavy timber and birch veneer paneling are also paired with the brick masonry along a main interior double colonnade which forms the central organizing spine for the building.

Stefcon Construction Inc. was the mason contracting company used, and it started as a father and son team of Ferdinando and Steven Andreetta, currently run with Steven as President. They are a well-known masonry company operating in the greater Toronto area and are known for their focus on quality masonry craftsmanship.

Maintaining Public Support

As a new town hall facility, maintaining public support throughout the process was a key concern for the project. 

The first part of achieving public support was to develop a strong communication protocol out to the community to keep them up to date on design progress, timing and, of course, budgets. This was done in joint with the township’s communication team. 

The second and more challenging was to ensure we could continue to meet the schedule and budget targets as the design progressed. This was done in conjunction with the project management group Colliers. As an independent project manager, Colliers was brought on early in the process to create a comprehensive project implementation plan to establish baseline parameters for budget, schedule, quality, and risk.

The King Township Administration Centre is the new seat of Municipal Government for the Township of King. It is a two-story 45,000 square-foot facility that incorporates town offices, council chambers, a community gymnasium and satellite offices for the local police force.

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