In 1929, the International Playing Card Company, the Canadian subsidiary of the United States Playing Card Company of Norwood, Ohio, built its primary Canadian manufacturing plant in Windsor to service the growing Canadian playing card market. The School Board purchased the property after years of neglect and abandonment. In close consultation with the City of Windsor’s Heritage Committee, the Board took the brave step to renovate the factory, expand it and turn it into a unique K-8 public school for the community whilst maintaining the original heritage features of the 1929 building.
The site incorporates new staff and visitor parking, a new bus, new green and asphalt play areas and a large 32,000 sf addition housing programs components not suitable for the existing structure. The existing building is restored to its original architectural look – including the installation of the large glazed openings that once punctured the original long brick façade. Roof monitors (for natural daylight) and brick and stone detailing are all maintained to preserve the building’s architectural character. The west addition has been designed to play off the unique history of the building. Conceptually, its shape is “tuck case” in geometry and acts as the protective case for the program inside. The roof emulates the lid of the case along the west edge and “opens” in a way to highlight the use of red and blue striations on the west façade. Taken from the colours of the Bicycle and Bee cards, travelers along the street witness the colours change as one passes the building. The didactic/kinetic nature of the gesture signals to the City that the building is alive and being reused – and, maybe as importantly, that its manufacturing past has been remembered.