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Bridgepoint Hospital expansion, Toronto, Ontario

Adapting a jail built in 1862 for use by a modern hospital proved challenging – and rewarding – for the structural engineering team. Formerly the Don Jail, constructed in 1862, it was adapted for the hospital’s use while preserving the jail’s storied history and retaining important heritage features, including the cells, gallows and gun towers.


Client: Bridgepoint Active Health

Our client’s challenge

The primary goal of this major conservation and adaptive reuse project was to convert the Don Jail, with its heritage legacy and structural constraints, into a pleasant, life-affirming, home for the administration of Bridgepoint Active Healthcare.

Our approach

The original Don Jail consisted of solid brick load-bearing masonry walls with stone masonry footings. For the engineering team, the main challenge was determining the structural adequacy of the 150-year-old masonry building with respect to the current codes and standards.

Because the cell walls were all loadbearing, they were dismantled sequentially from the top down and new floor structures introduced while retaining the heritage floor areas. This modification opened up the floor areas and allowed the building occupancy to meet current standards. Ninety percent of the cells’ dividing walls were dismantled by hand and replaced with the new structural system. The design successfully used remaining existing masonry walls as load bearing and lateral elements without increasing the foundation load capacity.

The design team retained 100% of the masonry brick and stone and restored two original masonry brick towers. Where necessary, the original brick was supplemented by 64,000 units of heritage-compatible Ibstock brick.


Many of the Don Jail’s Important heritage features, including the cells, gallows and gun towers, have been repaired, revealed, and restored to revitalize its history, while certain interior spaces have undergone significant rehabilitation to create a bright, optimistic home for Bridgepoint.