Block Magazine

Creativity has its place
Fall/Winter 2020
Issue 21

Staying Power

Pilkington Brothers made products—and buildings—to stand the test of time.

BY: PAR SYDNEY LONEY

 

Top Image: courtesy of Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries, Bottom Photo by: Jeremy Fokkens

The Edwardian-style warehouse, with its russet redbrick façade, is as resilient as the company that long inhabited it. Pilkington Bros., an English glass- and paint-manufacturing company, occupied 402 11th Avenue SE in Calgary from the building’s construction in 1913 until 1967, filling its 40,000 square feet with the supplies integral to the construction boom that defined Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood in the mid-1900s. A Tyndall stone frontispiece at the building’s lower southeast corner reads “Pilkington Brothers Limited,” carved purposefully beneath the classical cornice.

Today, Pilkington Brothers is still very much in business (now devoting 70 percent of its manufacturing to automotive glass), and so is its former warehouse. It sat empty for a while, in the 1980s and ’90s, but in 2000 it became home to Critical Mass, a web design firm. Allied acquired the property in 2014. Today, its biggest tenant is McElhanney, a company focused on environmental engineering and urban planning. This building, where rail cars once entered to ensure a seamless shipment of goods, is now, as then, an epicentre of efficient innovation

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