The John Street Roundhouse by Gottesman Associates, Canada

Heritage restoration is often perceived to be constrained by ‘one for one replacements’. If limiting intervention isn’t challenge enough, imagine working with a completely black building in the middle of a bright downtown. Black and Light. Can visual presence be created for the tenants, and still provide a safe and secure environment, within all of the constraints?

Lighting Designer Deborah Gottesman, Principal of Gottesman Associates, managed to do just that.

“The first step is to listen to the narrative of the project,” said Gottesman. The design emerged from the history itself – a former steam-train roundhouse. “Given restrictions from adding poles or mounting to the roundhouse itself, we used the building as a black canvas, adding rhythmic lighting to create a presence with no building intervention.”

Other challenges included a very limited budget, and preference for LEDs (specifications were prepared before a wide selection of LED luminaires were available). “Sometimes, restrictions help drive creativity,” said Gottesman. For example, repurposing an existing LED module from Beta Calco’s Blade into a custom post mounted luminaire affordably enabled a key element of the design.

The result: respectful, artistic lighting.

“Today, a new circle has taken shape, as the roundhouse has been transformed from an urban eyesore into a vibrant retail center/railroad museum. And for good measure, one more circle has been added to provide the ?nishing touch: new façade lighting on the roundhouse that cleverly evokes the wheel of a steam train—spokes and all.”
Paul Tarricone, Roundhouse Punch, LD+A (September 2011).


Lighting Designer: Gottesman Associates (Deborah Gottesman, MBA, PEng, LC, Principal)
Photographer: Norm Betts
Heritage Architect: IBI Group (Don Loucks)
Owner/Developer: The City of Toronto, State Building Group/The John Street Roundhouse Corporation
Ancillary Building Restoration: Murison Restoration (Tom Murison)
Tenant Stakeholders: Leon’s Furniture, Steamwhistle Brewery, Toronto Railway Historical Association
Lighting Suppliers: Beta Calco, elliptipar, Kim Lighting


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