Vault Renovation Project

After a four-month renovation funded by the Federal government’s cultural spaces fund and a generous capital gift from the Blankenstein Family, the Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre moved back into its renovated facility in the Lipa Green at the Sherman Campus earlier in May. This renovation was long overdue as the OJA has been in its facility since the early 1980s when the Lipa Green Building was first built. As you can imagine, the OJA’s staff, volunteers and friends at UJA Federation are thrilled.

The centerpiece of the renovation is the state-of-the-art vault. The vault is now equipped with a dedicated HVAC that allows the OJA to maintain full control over its temperature and humidity levels according to the highest archival standards. Additionally, LED lighting was installed in the vault which is is more efficient and longer lasting than any other type of light source.

Another highlight of the project is the high-density moveable compact shelving by Montel, a Canadian company that is a leader in this field. This kind of shelving maximizes the space, which is especially important given the rounded shape of our vault. There is customized shelving for oversized records, framed paintings and photographs, as well as flat files for items that need to be stored flat. Additionally, specialty shelving for the OJA’s growing media collection is integrated into the units. The OJA’s existing cold storage unit for film and negatives and new library shelving has also been integrated into the re-design of the vault. With bright red end panels, the vault has been completely transformed and our storage has been increased by 35%.

The OJA’s processing room was updated to include standing-height built-in work surfaces as well as archival supply storage. The processing room also has a scanning station and other computer workstations for contract archivists and volunteers. The updated research room is now a more inviting environment with grey and navy carpeting and lovely built-in bookcases for popular resources and finding aids. Our collection of vintage audiovisual equipment is displayed throughout the room providing insight into other resources available at the OJA. The staff offices have also been updated with new carpeting, window treatments and paint.

Newly designed graphic wayfinding that functions as an exhibit starts on the 4th floor and directs people down into the OJA’s lower level. The graphics are filled with hundreds of questions that can be answered at the OJA, ranging from cheeky, to sentimental, to the more serious. Random questions are pulled out and answered with photos and captions that animate the space while directing people. This exhibit illustrates the range of material that is found at the OJA and the important role that the OJA plays within the community.

Come visit the new OJA! To book a research appointment:

Special Thanks To...

Mariana Botezatu of DSPM who managed the operational details of the OJA’s move and renovation and to Andrea Gaichuk of UJA’s Real Estate Division who oversaw this project from beginning to end.

Project Management Team: David Sadowski, Stephanie Olin Chapman, and Andrea Gaichuk
Architect: Red Studio
Engineers: Smith + Andersen
General Contractor: Alliance Construction Group
Designer: Kirsh Design

Shelving: Montel
Graphics: Acumen

Click images to enlarge