< Back to Projects

Place of Worship Projects

Quinn Dressel Associates has been involved in a dramatic and award-winning retention system which allowed the integration of Montreal’s old Christ Church Cathedral into a major downtown redevelopment scheme. The full design concept and construction of St. Maurice & St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church in Markham; the major renovation of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto and the repair and restoration of the Bell Tower at St. Andrew’s Church, Brechin, Ontario.

St. Francis Xavier Church & Parish, Mississauga

The project consists of an addition of a 475 square metre of offices and amenity space including a multi-purpose rooms and rectory.

Photo Courtesy of BNC Architects

Additional Place of Worship Projects:

  • St. Maurice & St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church, Markham
    There are two interconnected structures associated with the project - the church and the ancillary facility.

    Number of Storeys:  3
    Size: 140,000 sq. ft.
  • St. Andrew’s Church – Bell Tower, Brechin
    The Church Bell Tower was assessed and was found to be unstable beyond the halfway point.  Foundations were solid, but previous repair attempts and some original design characteristics of the tower had resulted in accelerated deterioration of the structure, and had left several areas of both the buttresses and walls in need of extensive repair. Quinn Dressel Associates designed a concrete bond beam and interior concrete block wall system, as well as new wood floors and specialized details for masonry anchorage.

    The tower was dismantled to a stable level, and the exterior masonry was rebuilt against, and tied into, a new concrete block interior. All stones were numbered in order to maintain the original exterior façade of the tower. Preventative measures were taken, including the redesign and replacement of the original buttress capstones to better shed water, in order to prevent the reoccurrence of several factors which had aided in the formerly declining state of the tower. 

    Quinn Dressel Associates also provided for the replacement of the main Church roof with a new standing-seam metal roof, and delivered recommendations with regard to heat loss and insulation, and asbestos concerns.
  • St. Michael’s Cathedral, Toronto
    Built in 1848, the Cathedral structure consists of load-bearing masonry supporting a wooden ground floor and wood truss roofs over the nave and side aisles.  The spire was added in 1868. The floor of the nave and side aisles were modified by the introduction of steel beams, which a 1995 report by Larkin implies was carried out circa 1938, and some additional masonry supports were also added at that time. We provided the structure of the new elevator and the new replacement of the balcony choir loft.  We also designed and upgraded many structural elements within the building.  

    For the St. Michael’s Cathedral project, we identified distressed masonry elements such as pinnacles, and provided designs for their stabilization. We designed the underpinning of the foundations for the creation of increased headroom within the crypt. The jacking and underpinning of the interior columns of the church were carried out without deformation or deflection of the existing building elements. We provided the structure of the new elevator and the new replacement of the balcony choir loft. We also designed and upgraded many structural elements within the building.

    Award: 2017 – Ontario Steel Design Awards – Award of Merit for Projects Converted Or Innovated Using Steel
  • Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal
    Completing the support of 128 year old Cathedral to allow for a five basement deep retail and parking development below without any interrupting church activities or services.  It takes more than faith to lift a 17,000 ton 128 year old church off its foundations, and excavate 15m of earth from under it, and to continue services as usual. The church was within a new multi-level shopping centre taking place around and under the old Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. Plans included two new retail levels and one parking level to be constructed right under the Cathedral. 

    The Gothic church was originally built in 1860 and was one of the few churches in Canada built completely by stone. The spire became a problem over the years, because the structure was built on subsoil, and it began settling even before completion. By 1927, the steeple was leaning two feet from the vertical and causing cracks in the rest of the church. The top half of the stone steeples was removed and rebuilt with metal and cast aluminium panels that look like stone. The cathedral is 200 ft. long and 109 ft. at its widest point, with the steeple rising 17 storeys above ground level. The structure weighs 6000 tons and the steeple 1500 tons. 

    Engineering ingenuity allowed the final phase of the Maison des Cooperants project in mid-town Montreal to get underway, although it looked as if divine intervention was at work when Christ Church Cathedral was suspended to permit construction of the underground shopping/parking levels for the development. The “cathedral-on-stilts” caught the attention of all passers-by in Montreal. Suspending the church was an engineering feat never before attempted. 

    The citation in winning the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada’s Award of Merit read: “The challenge faced by Quinn Dressel Associates was putting the church on new foundations without interrupting services during the construction period. The delicate and possibly strained condition of the building required an approach that would not allow any appreciable movement during or after the implementation stage…(it was executed) successfully with movements never exceeding 3/16 inch…” 

    Key to the success of the underground shopping mall which was part of “Cathedral Place” high-rise office development in the heart of downtown Montreal was the feasibility of building a two storey shopping mall and one level of parking under Christ Church Cathedral. 

    The church foundations, which had a history of settlement, were masonry spread footings supported on a layer of clay with glacial till and bedrock about 45 feet to 50 feet below grade. Completing the support of a 128 years old Cathedral to allow for a five basement deep retail and parking development below without interrupting services during the construction period was a considerable challenge. 

    The technical challenge was to minimize building movements during or after the implementation stage. The solution was a post-tensioned system which balanced the church loading and prevented any vertical movements of the already strained building. The wooden floor was left in place and all work was confined to the basement area, thus ensuring continuation of religious services throughout construction. 

    Caissons, socketed into bedrock at a depth of 18m, were installed outside the church. Concrete beams, 1.8m deep, designed to carry the building in section – were threaded through the existing foundations. A secondary system of 1.2m deep girders was designed to enclose all masonry foundation elements and transfer the load to the main concrete beams. The soil was then excavated from under the building to leave it dramatically perched on “stilts”.

    Award: 1988 – Canadian Consulting Engineering Award – Award of Merit for The Design of Christ Church Cathedral Underpinning
  • Toronto Gospel Lighthouse, Toronto
    Nave Wall Repairs - the scope of work included repairs of existing deteriorated timber columns by complete removal and replacement of brick cladding and columns.  

    The Toronto Gospel Lighthouse was built in two parts, circa 1906 and 1923. The main structure consisted of tied wooden roof trusses at 12' 3" spacing, spanning approximately 40', supported by 5" by 6" raking wood posts, supporting a king post truss. The posts appeared to have been tied together with 2/2" by 10" wood beams, at ground floor extending the full width of the building. The overall structure was clad with non-load bearing brick. The roof consisted of wood purlins supporting wood planking and felt tiles. 

    A Physical Risk Assessment carried out by Quinn Dressel Associates revealed the roof trusses had failed and were deflecting to such an extent that the overall structure was in a state of unstable equilibrium and required immediate remedial attention.