Rumley Distinctive Lofts, Saskatoon
Summer 2011 Edition of Worth Magazine 


In the early 20th Century, Saskatchewan was undergoing a period of rapid economic growth becoming one of the most important agricultural areas in the world.

Although agriculturally based, this growth was not limited to rural areas.  Saskatchewan cities became thriving distribution and sales centres as a agricultural equipment was shipped into the province and  wheat was exported. 

The great transportation network was serviced by large urban rail yards and entire districts of associated warehouse buildings. 
What remains of these districts is national heritage value and this includes a most prominent example of the Saskatoon Warehouse District, The Rumley Building, a substantial five storey building built of brick and concrete, in order to support the weight of heavy from machinery.

Although Saskatoon’s Rumley warehouse is typical of its contemporaries, and has a mate in Wichita Kansas, few building of this type remain anywhere in North America and even fewer retain as much of their original architectural character.

This building is a fine example of the Chicago Warehouse style.  It was, in fact, designed by the prominent Chicago architectural firm, Hill and Woltersdorf.  Unlike many modern nondescript commercial buildings, the Chicago Warehouse style was notably attractive, with durable materials, fine proportions, refine decorative elements, high ceilings, exposed structure and natural lighting.

The Rumley Building also exhibits the light weight curtain wall design typical of Chicago Warehouses, making it a precursor to modern high rise construction.

The distinctive loft conversion project went to great pains to reflect and honour these architectural characteristics.  The existing  concrete structure and brick walls, for instance, were not covered but where exposed to inspire the interior aesthetic.  Where an addition was required for functional reasons, existing architectural features were  replicated, with additional care to respect the facade rhythms and cornice details.

This project, which includes commercial space on the lower floors and condominium residential units on the higher levels, has made this building both physically and financially viable for years to come, significantly increasing its heritage value.

All concerned are to be commended for their vision and care. The owner is th Obasa Group of Companies. The architect is Heney Klypak of Klypak Rusick architects. The contractors are Rumley Distinctive Lofts and Gracom Masonry of Saskatoon.

Prepared by Rod Stutt