If the walls and corners of the Wardroom could speak, we’d be shocked at the secrets and stories they’d tell.
Everyone at King’s already knows that there have been renovations taking place around campus.
The Wardroom has been no exception.
Fondly known as The Wardy, the campus bar has played an important role throughout the school’s legacy. It’s the nucleus of the social life at King’s.
Since the birth of the renovation project, both excitement and nostalgia have been present in the hearts of students, staff, and alumni.
Lydon Lynch Architects took on the project with Eugene Pieczonka leading the operation. When reviving a space that is deeply cherished by its dwellers, the job is always a risky one.
“The vision for the room was about trying to respect the history and tradition of King’s and the Wardroom while looking forward towards the future as well,” says Pieczonka. “It was a blend of yesterday and tomorrow.”
Pieczonka, has been responsible for both the conceptual design and aesthetic details. He explained that the project was a fun one — creating the space to be modern, youthful and above all, comfortable for students.
Although Pieczonka and his team were responsible for the physical renovations, he says it was not without the support of the King’s community that the plans were able to come to fruition.
The level of support Pieczonka is speaking of is no joke.
Advancement director of King’s, Adriane Abbott, graciously seconds this fact.
“The space has been redone entirely on fundraising by donors to the school,” says Abbott. “It is a wonderful gift from earlier generations of King’s people.”
She admits that the renovation has been an exceptionally expensive project, but that the hard work, the fundraising and the long wait is paying off.
“The air quality is fresher, the bar is more beautiful, the sound system is going to be better, there will be many more plugs to charge devices. It is also a lovely preservation of that period of our history,” she says.
The further one digs into the Wardroom’s history, the more intriguing the space becomes.
Abbott explains that the room has seen several incarnations of revival throughout its history. There was a group of alumni in the 70s that revived it and another in 2012. Throughout these processes, those carrying out the renovations have even consulted naval spaces for inspiration.
A Brief look at the History of the Wardroom
What was once known as the Girl’s Reception Room was converted into the HMCS King’s Wardroom in 1941. This was the same year King’s became a training school for officers in the Royal Canadian Navy – many of which would go on to fight in the second world war.
The college soon became known as the “stone frigate” and gained some notoriety during the war.
German forces commonly reported that they were sinking ships as a propaganda tool. In response, the allies spread information on fake ships — one of these was the HMCS King’s. The reported sinking of the HMCS King’s, a campus on land, caused the allies to question the supposed sinking of the other vessels.
Because of this, King’s was even featured in the Hollywood hit, Corvette K-225 starring Ella Raines and Randolph Scott.
Now that the project is done;
Before the official reopening on September 30th, those who had been lucky enough to sneak a peek, seemed to trust that Pieczonka and his team had delivered the new space favourably.
“The renovation has surpassed my expectations, and I think everyone will find it a very comfortable, welcoming space,” says Nicholas Hatt, Dean of Students. “I look forward to seeing it full of students!”
Since staff and students alike feel interwoven into the history of the Wardroom, the great unveiling spurred a lot of attention. The intimate space reached capacity within the first few hours of being open to the public.
“I love the Wardroom, it’s this dingy and very lovable part of King’s,” says Allie Graham, a fourth-year journalism student. “I just hope that it retains its character and it remains a wonderful social space.”