Lot42: ‘pure grandness’
Event complex blends industrial heritage and modern style in magnificent building
KITCHENER — Clad in a white hard hat and clunky rubber boots, David Brisson stepped into the centrepiece at Lot42.
It’s a space called The Factory, a 40,000-square-foot area with steel beams, exposed bricks and a concrete floor that still bears some of the traces of its legacy as, well, a factory.
It was originally built in 1955 as the new home of Ardelt Industries and was the site of several subsequent businesses.
High above, an original (and still working) gantry crane spans the width of the building. Below, construction continued on the multi-use event space as final preparations were made to host Friday’s Miss Oktoberfest Gala Ball.
While the property at 41 Ardelt Pl. in Kitchener has been used for special events in recent years — art shows, last year’s FuzeNation technology and music festival, even a State of the City address among them — it’s really within the past 10 months or so that the $10-million project to breathe new life into the complex took shape.
“We’ve truly tried to keep that industrial feel …. the pure grandness of the main building,” said Brisson, Lot42’s president and chief executive officer, who’s partnered with Patrick Doyle on the project. “We want to have that kind of ‘wow’ factor.”
New tinted windows, placed in front of the old ones, grace the side of the building that fronts onto Highway 7/8. A new 21- by 15-metre (70 by 50 foot) curtain glass wall greets guests at the main entrance. Brisson said the Pixar Animation Studios headquarters in California served as inspiration for parts of the project.
One part of the exterior has been painted purple; colourful murals by artists Jerry Rugg, also called BirdO, and Bruno, also known as Smoky, enliven other exterior walls that face The Courtyard, a 27,400-square foot outdoor space.
The Factory can accommodate more than 4,000 people.
There are other interior areas, too, including the 14,000-square foot Studio 42, and the nearly 3,000-square foot Workshop.
B Hospitality, which operates venues including B at Themuseum and the Cambridge Hotel & Conference Centre and The Bruce Craft House, is Lot42’s food and beverage partner.
Brisson and Doyle have dubbed the seven-hectare (17 acre) property a “global flex campus,” the idea being that it can be used for arts, technology, manufacturing, athletics and community events.
“We want to be all things to all people,” Brisson said, adding that he felt the region was lacking a large, unique and flexible event space.
The property also houses a handful of tenants, ranging from Renishaw (Canada)’s additive manufacturing solution centre and Let’s Dance, to The Athlete Factory, Gym 41 and co-working space Innovation 42.
Brisson and Doyle also have their sights set on what they’re calling the backyard, a four-hectare (10.5 acre) outdoor space on the property that could hold 20,000 to 25,000 people for concerts and festivals. Grading and preparatory work — including lining the site with shipping containers that could be used as VIP platforms — is expected to begin in May.
Doyle’s father, Ron — the man behind the transformation of a former sugar beet factory into the Hacienda Sarria — first purchased the Lot42 site in the 1990s. Oversight has since shifted to Patrick Doyle and Brisson, who’s quick to credit the elder Doyle with having the vision for the site’s potential in the first place.
Until recently, it was called Lot41, a nod to its street address. Brisson said the old name is more a connection to the site’s — and the community’s — past; Lot42 looks to the future.
“It’s important to note how the community’s embraced this project,” he said. “Having this here changes the dynamic of the cities.”
Lot42 will host three different Oktoberfest events ahead of a grand opening Oct. 21.
Patrick Doyle, left, and David Brisson stand inside Lot42, a former industrial complex that is being turned into a multi-purpose event space.
Lot42 takes flight with this big beautiful bird by artist Bruno.