The Michigan Central Roundhouse, built in 1887, as part of the Michigan Central repair facilities, has been brought back to life as the headquarters for two digital companies, Ellipsis Digital and Engine SevenFour. The roundhouse was part of a complex of three railroad buildings, and was designed by architect Samuel Peters. It was in use for 10 years until repair work was moved to the larger MCRR shops in St. Thomas.
It was for many years the Sansone Fruit Company (1927-1972), and in recent memory the Great West Beef (later Great West Steak House) restaurant (1973-2006), and then purchased by Creative Properties in 2007.
In its restoration, the interior walls and defining features from the restaurant were removed and stripped back to brick. The floors were been dropped 1.5 metres to the original grade level, and then fitted with heating elements along the former track lines. During restoration, bricked-in windows and bays were restored and skylights installed where three original exhaust stacks had been, bringing natural light into the high-ceilinged interior.
New sections within the building shell are named to reference the original railroad purpose of the building, namely the Caboose (lounge area, non-gendered restrooms, shower, kitchenette and storage space) and the Engine (main boardroom, office and meeting rooms). Former occupants such as Sansone, Great West and the City’s Scavenger Department, are referenced in naming the new offices.
Making connections is the essence of tech providers as it was for the railroad, so today’s
Roundhouse ‘team’ sees their building as a connection to the past, to the future and to the SoHo (South of Horton) community. Patrick Ambrogio and Slavko Prtenjaca of Creative Property Development made this development happen in collaboration with Shawn Adamson and David Billson of Ellipsis. The architect for the project was John Nicholson of Nicholson Sheffield, London.[i]
[i] Adapted from the award presented by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, 2015