Our city is in a constant state of evolution. As far as the eye can see, cranes tower and construction sites spread their dusty plumes while brightly coloured signs alert traffic and neighbours to the continual development. Old walls are demolished making room for the new and sometimes amalgamating the two. Repurposing this history can lead to echoes of the past through our future.
We’re often called upon in these times of growth to prepare custom area plaques and donor recognition in a variety of mediums. There are many occasions to prepare customized gifts and programs with new materials. Less often yet far more impressionable have been the unique privileges of designing entirely customized gifts, plaques and recognition displays utilizing salvaged materials.
I recall the custom photo frames built from the recovered floor boards that made way for the grand redevelopment of ‘The Isabel’. Each picture frame was emblazoned with the Queen’s logo and details commemorating the opening for all of the esteemed guests.
We created a fireplace mantel from the old staircases torn down in the renovation of Ketchum Dining Hall at RSGC. The maple was processed with great care into slats that would bear the laser engraved donor names of generations passed and those to follow flanking a 3-dimensional maple carving of their insignia.
Clay bricks collected from the same construction site were scrubbed clean and mounted onto a base with an inset of the same maple engraved in a token message of gratitude. We’ve converted reclaimed slate at UCC into cheeseboards featuring a subtle etching of their iconic crest.
And most recently, we were approached to transform genuine slate roof tiles into gifts for a small group of donors who helped to fund the revitalization of the Innovation and Wellness Centre. We presented variables ranging from honing the tile into a neatly polished contemporary plaque to the roof tile in its basic form, complete with holes, adorned ever so slightly to allow for wall mounting and an engraved recognition plate.
Our client opted for the version that would least influence the tile. The seemingly understated gift was presented to a benefactor family with the greatest of impacts. The patriarch had played football at the original Phys-Ed Centre built in 1932. His father’s background was in Geological Engineering and he recognized the very tiles from the original structure decades prior. The sight of the virtually undisturbed tile resonated with memories and a deeply personal pleasure captured so clearly in the photo feature kindly shared by our contacts in the Advancement Office.
These gifts and displays were timeless and exclusive gestures of donor appreciation that could never be replicated in a catalogue or on a retail shelf. As you plan for and build the future, we urge you to consider the potential in the rubble. There is a world of opportunity to unite donors and legacies in what could only be described as treasures.
To see examples of how we've repurposed historical artifacts in displays and gifts, check out our creativity pages.