News Home & Design Historic Hockey Arena Restored And Expanded With Massive Wood Roof FABG architects once again take a banal building type and make it special. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated April 28, 2021 01:36PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Steve Montpetit via V2com News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive It is a Treehugger spring tradition, usually around Swedish Waffle Day, to celebrate waffle slabs, an ingenious construction technology that delivers very long spans with less concrete. Like everything in this pandemic year, we are late, not having had any tasty waffle slabs to show. But now Canada's FABG architects come to the rescue with its renovation of the Verdun Auditorium in Montréal, Quebec, which includes a wondrous wooden waffle that dominates the public areas. Steve Montpetit via V2com The original Verdun Auditorium is a lovely Art Deco-ish building that opened in 1939 and was home to some of the world's most famous hockey players, including Maurice Richard. It also was a concert venue — Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Bob Dylan have played there — and had a big political history, as it was the venue for the two referenda on Quebec independence. As the architects note, "The auditorium left an indelible mark on the citizens who frequented this emblematic place during their youth." FABG Architects Yet the original mandate given to the architects was to tear it down and replace it, keeping the newer hockey arena next door. As so often happens with old buildings, especially ones that get wrapped up in metal siding, the emotional attachment people have to them is discounted. FABG proposed a better idea: "Rather than destroy the historic landmark, FABG architects proposed the enhancement and restoration of the auditorium and the demolition & reconstruction of the Denis-Savard arena by arranging between the two a foyer from which it is possible to observe the two rinks from the city towards the river along the axis of a new urban beach." Steve Montpetit via V2com It should be noted the waffle-like ceiling is not actually a waffle slab, but as can be seen in this close-up, is a CLT slab roof supported by deep beams running across the width of the lobby, with filler pieces giving it the waffle look. The architects describe it: "The public spaces feature a cross-laminated timber roof chosen as much for its contribution to carbon sequestration as for its contribution to the definition of a simple and robust architectural language for these spaces. Particular care has been taken to restore and maintain the character of the interior spaces of the auditorium. This was accomplished by restoration of the original masonry facade and of the wooden benches, which are complemented by the mixed structure (wood and steel) of the roof." Steve Montpetit via V2com The project also won a heritage award from the Quebec Order of Architects, who noted: "The jury praised the architects' effort to conserve and enhance the existing Art Deco style arena, inaugurated in 1939. While the initial order called for the demolition of the building, the design team convinced the client of its heritage value and the interest of rehabilitating it." Steve Montpetit via V2com The existing brick and steel building not only held a lot of memories but also a lot of embodied carbon that would have been emitted building its replacement. It's the reason we say the greenest building is the one already standing, and why organizations like Architects Declare seek to "upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon-efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice." Steve Montpetit via V2com FABG architects have a talent for taking the programs for what are usually banal buildings and making them special: The firm was previously featured on Treehugger for making an emergency diesel generator facility into a glass monument. FABG architects have done it again with the Verdun Auditorium, saving both the building and its memories.