Being an early teen in Kitchener Waterloo with a very limited income, I was fairly limited in my options when it came to entertainment, no less so when trying to find things for myself and my cousin to do.  One can only wander through the Seagram’s Distillery Museum (now the home of Maple Software and no longer open to the public) before setting one’s sights higher than copper kettles and barrel racks.  Immediately across the street from said museum is the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.  This is part one of a two-part series critiquing the CCGG

I learned many years later that the CCGG was, when it was built, the most expensive-per-square-foot building ever to have been built in Kitchener-Waterloo.  My building materials teacher went on at some length describing its flaws and herein I present those that I can remember:

  • The architect, being from Vancouver, didn’t really understand that Ontario gets snow.  Quite a lot of snow.  Snow that doesn’t melt as it hits the ground.  As a result he included something called a butterfly roof which looks something like this:  V   Yes, a capital V.  If you took a roof such as one might see on a normal house and inverted it, you would more or less have an idea of what this roof is like.  As you can see, it seems practically intended to gather snow and be disinclined to release it.  This resulted in significantly higher structural loads, which made things more expensive.
  • A passer-by on the street will never see the inverted roof.  The architect in what must be called his wisdom decided to extend the brick walls on the ends of the roof all the way to the upper arms of the V.  Looking at it in section it appears thus: |______|.  To prevent this filling up with water, a 5” diameter, 18” long, copper pipe was inserted on one end to allow drainage.  This protrudes from an otherwise featureless brick wall and, when it rains, makes the building appear to be urinating.  Being copper, it is also providing a delightful green/brown stain down the side of the red brick.
  • The interior is primarily concrete block and poured concrete floors.  The block is a special, custom size that, if one didn’t already know it was a custom size, would be nigh-indistinguishable from common, inexpensive, grey, unadorned concrete block.  The floor situation deserves its own point and a little building science.
  • When concrete cures (it doesn’t “dry” unless you’ve messed it up), it tends to contract.  Since it is nominally a rigid material and is intended to be huge, flat sheets, this contraction usually shows up as hundreds of tiny cracks.  In order to try to control where these cracks occur, the concrete installer waits for a few days after pouring and then does what is called saw-cutting which, as you may be able to guess, involves cutting the concrete with a saw.  Typically it is cut to a depth of about 1/4 of the depth of the slab and about every 20 feet or so (depending on the size of the slab). The tiny cracks tend to happen within these cuts and are not so noticeable as a result.  At the CCGG, the architect decided to create a simple pattern of saw-cuts (a fairly common practice) but where he erred was making them well over 40 feet apart and the slabs are cracked all over the place.  It should also be noted that the pattern can only be seen if one is flying over the building at an altitude of at least 100 feet.  Oh, and the building actually having been built over the slab means that even when flying over, the cut pattern is completely occluded by things like the roof.

All this having been said, to a bored, 14-year-old and his 13-year-old cousin, the $2 entry fee makes it an attractive way to kill a couple of hours.  More on the contents of the building tomorrow.