Building Tour: The Templar Flats

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I recently wrote a small piece on Templar Flats in the Summer edition of Hamilton Magazine to sum up my thoughts on this development:

“Templar Flats on King William isn’t even completed and the development is already generating a lot of hype. This project by Core Urban Development and Lintack Architects is just another notch on their belt when it comes to growth inside the core that doesn’t involve tearing down a building. Once completed, these three buildings will house 25 rental units ranging from $950-$2200 and three restaurants at street level.

At 30,000 square feet, the development consists of two existing buildings, with a new infill piece in-between. The developers bought the two bookend buildings and later acquired the gap tooth lot from LiUNA, turning it into a six-storey limestone-clad building with historical connotations. The two top floors contain floor-to-ceiling glass, offering scenic views of the North and South. This modern touch gives it a contemporary design flair while stamping its mark on the skyline. The two bookend buildings also saw their facades restored and interiors renovated. In a bold move, Core Urban decided against parking spaces; instead, there will be bicycle parking. Templar Flats isn’t just sympathetic with its surroundings, but it’s also a building invested in Hamilton’s future. Why have parking when you’re surrounded by everything you need?

This project is far from a hidden gem. It’s a rock star. However, Templar Flats, along with the restoration of the Lister Block and Empire Times building, are reviving the real hidden gem, King William Street. It’s quickly becoming the hottest destination in the city. If you want to see what Hamilton’s renaissance looks like, look no further than King William.”

This week I was privileged enough to get a tour of the building with Steve Kulakowsky. Kulakowsky showed me the building last summer and it’s quite different now. Real different. The first time I visited the units were essentially just wall studs, the gap tooth wasn’t filled, and it was still just a vision coming together. We were scaling stairs and ducking through the floors. Now, it’s a different place. Tennants are moving in, restaurants are set to open (Berkley North is slated to open next week!), and the energy on King William is at it’s highest. Here’s some photos of what I saw during the tour:

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We walked in on employee training at Berkeley North. I snuck this photo as we wandered through a clean new restaurant with an exciting menu.

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A skylight that cuts through units from the roof right into the restaurant. When you’re in the restaurant be sure to look up and see the windows from units above.

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Sputnik lighting in the lobby, with the elevator on the left and a room for bike parking on the right.

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Look at those exposed walls and recessed windows. The sun was shining in and the mixture of new and old is seen through so many of the units.

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Bedroom views with large windows.

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More exposed brick. More light.

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The kitchens in each unit differed, but they were ultra modern. Very european with an economical use of space.

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A kitchen with a view of King William.

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Balcony views.

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Bedrooms of exposed brick and afternoon light.

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A kitchen with european appliances and frosted glass for privacy with sun shining through from the skylight.

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The last time I saw this unit it was just wall studs. Now it’s got balcony access at King William and Hughson.

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Who wouldn’t love this bedroom?

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One of the units on the 5th floor of the new infill piece. The glass is triple glazed to combat the noise pollution on King William. Another beautiful balcony view.

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The ideal bedroom? Probably. Again, triple glazed windows for added quiet.

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This is the view from the living room. Same unit on the 5th floor. You are literally in the centre of it all.

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Another bedroom. Same unit. Fishbowl views of the north east with floor-to-ceiling windows.

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And finally, the penthouse balcony. To die for. Incredible spot.

Kulakowsky spent a lot of time breaking down all the details including how the building runs, from hydro to heating. The way it’s run is “some sort of sorcery” said Steve. It’s that good.

We went through every single vacant unit and each one was unique (there was so much to take in, I couldn’t even begin to write about it all). We also toured The French, a project Kulakowsky is very excited about. As we toured the building, he was beaming with pride. This project has been his baby since it’s inception and it’s a game changer when it comes to development in the core. He should be proud.

These units won’t last long. Check out http://templarflats.ca/contact/ for leasing information.

 

 

 

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City Spotlight: The Waterdown Rotary Memorial Skate Path

 

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INVIZIJ Architects and Toms+McNally teamed up to create a unique skating pad, The Waterdown Rotary Memorial Skate Path, at Waterdown Memorial Park.

The idea behind the project started when Graham McNally’s (of Toms+McNally) grandfather, a long time member of the Rotary Club of Waterdown, wanted to build a skating rink for the youth of his beloved town. After consulting with the city, it was clear they wanted a path and not a rink. By weaving a path through the park it became more inclusive while also reducing the liability of hockey.

At the time Graham was still at INVIZIJ architects. However, as the project progressed and time went on, he left INVIZIJ to start his own firm with Principal Architect Philip Toms. From that point forward INVIZIJ would design the path and Toms+McNally would design the corresponding building.

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Over 50 path options were explored.

The project wasn’t always smooth sailing. The city’s planning department informed the architects of a road-widening plan on Hamilton Road, which meant they would have to move the original location proposed. Councillor Judi Partridge and the recreation departments met with park stakeholders to reprogram the ball diamonds and soccer fields to ultimately find a new site for the path.

Cost estimates kept coming in over budget with the path itself costing around $1.3 million. Instead of building a new amenity building Toms+McNally proposed to keep and build around the existing washroom facility (designed by Richard Lintack). This solution not only saved money, but also had the added benefits of working with existing sewer and water connections.

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An axonometric diagram of the amenites building.

Half of the old cinderblock building was demolished and the remainder was wrapped inside a new enclosure clad in brick and glass. The new building includes a community area, offices, a backroom for the zamboni and refrigeration, and a corridor for access to the pre-existing washrooms.

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The communal area for lacing up skates and keeping warm was wrapped in glazing, creating a more welcoming, transparent space, with better views for parents to watch their children.

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A canopy with sconces for better visibility at night.

It’s an economical building with little frills. Except for one: the canopy at the south west corner. Raised above the roof on steel columns, the asymmetrical canopy levitates above the entrance. It’s a statement big enough to turn a simple building into a noticeable piece of public infrastructure, while also acting as a counterpoint to the taller refrigeration plant at the north of the building.

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The Rotary Club of Waterdown and the City of Hamilton funded the project, which opened this summer to the applause of many in the community, and the city deserves major credit for being with the architects every step of the way. It’s this collaboration and teamwork that ultimately lead to the skate paths successful implementation.

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Ward 15 Councillor Judi Patridge cutting the ceremonial ribbon on July 9th

Get your skates sharpened for the winter (or bring your rollerblades for the summer!) and don’t forget the hot chocolate.

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HBSA Presents Today’s Modernism: Art + Architecture

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The Hamilton/Burlington Society of Architects and TBA presents an exhibition about art, architecture, and what Modernism means today.

Set in Perkins + Will’s recently completed Barber Atrium expansion and the Lower Level Salon of the Beaux-Arts Carnegie Gallery in Dundas, this presentation pairs the modern work of local architects and artists.

This exhibition runs from September 9th to October 2nd and the reception is being held Friday, September 16th from 7:00 – 9:30PM.

Support the arts, support your local architects, and check out a worthwhile show.

See you Friday.

 

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ARKISAK: Totes for a good cause

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Who doesn’t love tote bags?

High-end design line perspectives from some of dpai’s well-known projects will be printed on quality canvas tote bags and satchels which will be available for purchase at select downtown Hamilton locations this weekend.Model ex.jpg

The projects printed include: The Hambly House, The Hamilton Public Library Central Branch, The Birks Clock, and The Seedworks Urban Offices.

dpai architecture inc joined forces with Hamilton Farmers’ Market, Hamilton Public Library, The Hamilton Store, and Reprodux, to raise money for the Hamilton Arts Community.

The canvas tote bags will be $15 and the canvas satchels with a zipper and adjustable strap will cost $25. The satchel with the HPL design will be available at the Central Library at select times during Supercrawl weekend and the canvas Birks Clock tote bag will be available at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market during the Market’s open hours. If you can’t find them there, all designs and items will also be available at The Hamilton Store.

Proceeds from sales will go to the Hamilton Arts Council and not-for-profit organization An Instrument for Every Child.

ARKISӒK is an initiative that aims to support the arts, while highlighting the importance of taking action and driving Hamilton’s extraordinary artistic infrastructure from within.

What better time to buy a tote and support the arts than on Supercrawl weekend?

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A new life for The Pasadena

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The historic Pasadena Apartments is rising from the ashes.

Located just off James South on a sleepy stretch of Bold Street, Pasadena Apartments have always stood out.

The red brick. The large projecting cornice with delicately brutish corbels. The detailed bay windows and projecting balconies. It’s easy to see why this building (dating back to 1914) pops in an area surrounded by high-rise apartments, stone terraces, and quietly handsome homes.

Then came that terrible night in February of 2014. The fire started in the boiler room and spread up all three floors, which caused a lot of damage. Thankfully, nobody was harmed. Units were charred, the roof collapsed, but the building was salvageable. The bones were still there. For over two years it sat boarded up, sad, waiting to be saved.

And that’s exactly what’s happening.

The new owner, Paven Bratch of Metro Partners, saw a second life for the then roofless walk-up. A modern, urban, city-on-the rise kind of plan, which consists of, you guessed it: boutique condos. The Pasadena. The units will be chopped down in size, from 17 to 32, but they will be stacked with upgrades and a better, more fluid design for a living space.

Kitchens will be bigger, walls will be sound proofed, washer and dryer units are to be added, and independent heating and air conditioning controls will be in each unit. That’s just a few upgrades. There is a laundry list of features and finishes.

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A view of the city looking North from the new rooftop

It will also see new contemporary amenities, like a rooftop patio with barbecue, and safety provisions while preserving the historical features of the building. Lintack Architects, no strangers to repurposing old buildings, is the firm in charge of designing the redevelopment and they want to make sure this buildings character remain the same.

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The central, spiralling red oak staircase will receive a new balustrade of spindles since the old set doesn’t meet modern code. It will be raised 15 centimeters, making the handrail at waist level for the person of average height. Floors are also being restored to their original state.

On the exterior, details like the crown moulding, corbels, dentils, and other original features will be replaced wherever necessary, as some have fallen victim to the fire. The goal is to give the shell of the building the same aesthetic as before, preserving its charm and giving it the San Francisco-esque feel which made it so special to begin with.

Units for The Pasadena start at $260,900. Completion is scheduled for Spring of 2017.

 

The Pasadena Apartments were heritage designated in 1986.

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A SoBi tour with Bill Curran

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Bill Curran pointing to the landscape beyond as he discusses the surrounding neighbourhood

Architect Bill Curran and I have been planning a bike ride for some time.

We often tour around Hamilton, checking out buildings and houses, discussing architecture, the neighbourhoods, and Hamilton’s deep history. Because of how large Hamilton is geographically, we either pick a neighbourhood to walk or we end up taking a car to cover the most ground possible. This weekend we were finally able to go for a bike ride. The area we picked is one of Bill’s favourites: the industrial north.

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#419 Lawanda is a personal favourite at the Locke Street hub

I grabbed a SoBi (there’s a rack conveniently close to my apartment) and was on my way to meet Bill out front of his office on James Street North. He had a route in mind, but we basically just winged it, taking alleys, bike lanes, and roads through the city to reach our destinations.

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Hidden behind it’s green shell is an old car dealership complete with a car ramp to the second floor

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The overlooked Our Lady Of Glastonburty Orthodox Church with little ornament on an expansive street of traffic

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Bill giving me a history lesson about the building that was once Mills Lighthouse

Our first notable stop was the Cannon bike lanes. There we stopped at points to discuss laneway housing, an old car dealership for sale, and a subtle little church easily missed by car.

Laneway housing is something Hamilton needs more of. They add density, character to neighbourhoods, and help increase the city’s building stock in an unobtrusive way (just to name a few of the benefits). Bill’s firm, TCA, did a study on Laneway housing in conjunction with the city and you can read it here.

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Moving day at a row of apartment buildings just West of Barton and Wenthworth

Next we made our way to Barton. We saw a street on the turn around. Although Barton faces many obstacles, we are seeing pockets of growth and investment sprinkled throughout. Many barriers are still in the way, but there are encouraging signs almost anywhere you look.

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Lawanda in front of a post and beam pavilion at Birge Park

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Rocketships of wooden wonder

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The new pool at Birge Park

We cut through some more alleys and streets before reaching Birge Park. This small park just received a makeover, which includes a new wading pool and change room building designed by Kathryn Vogel Architects. The building has a contemporary feel to it with its overhanging rooflines and stucco accents, while the pool is nothing short of functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.

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Karma Candy Factory

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The Galley Pump Tavern. A local favourite.

Continuing north, we passed Karma Candy factory, the Emerald Street Footbridge, some local watering holes, and numerous other businesses sprinkled throughout the area. The history in the North End is deep. There’s so much to discover that you can’t find it all in one bike ride. It would take many. I was curious about everything and I couldn’t keep track of it all.

Then came Burlington Street. It’s a different world. Trucks zooming by. Potholes like craters on the moon. We had to weave through areas like a downhill slalom just to get to our destinations.

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A handsomely detailed early modern office building that once housed Stelco offices.

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POV from Lawanda’s perspective

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Bill discussing the port lands

We stopped by a handsome old Stelco office and made our way down closer to some of the ports. I wanted to ask Bill what his opinion is regarding the future of our Waterfront since it’s a hot topic in this city. He had differing opinions on what Pier 7 and 8 should look like and that more port lands should be accessible like they once were. After 9/11 security concerns changed that, he said, and the ports became impossible to access. I forgot what the world before 9/11 looked like.

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The former, recently charred Hamilton Hells Angels clubhouse (and before that the Gage Tavern) at Gage and Beach.

Before we knew it we were at Gage and we decided to cut south. We passed the recently closed Hells Angels HQ and made our way past more industrial buildings scattered amongst housing on Beach road. One thing I noticed was the many simple, functional, modern buildings sowed about the area. We need to do more to reuse these diamonds in the rough, as many now sit completely or partially vacant.

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Hamilton Moderne

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A beautiful Hydro Electric Station turned office building on Sherman with classical features, detailed reliefs, and ornament

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A swiss cheese makeover at Victoria Ave

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The Repite Centre, refaced by Greg Sather in 2005.

Next was Sherman. We rode past Cotton Factory and discussed its impact, the history, architecture, and the work ecosystem inside it. We also passed some charming early modern buildings on Sherman. I was too busy keeping my eyes on the road to take too many photos, but I certainly want to go back and look at more of what we saw that day.

The tour kept going. It was a long day. 21 kilometers were travelled. Lots of liquids were consumed. I won’t keep you much longer, because pretty soon this article is going to be as tiring as our bike ride. We explored a lot of the city and much of it is hard to retrace.

You know what was one of the best things about the ride? Taking a SoBi bike. If you haven’t yet tried one, you should. They are convenient, easy to use, and offer a better way to travel about the city. Those little blue machines are one of the best investments this city ever made. Don’t believe me? Sign up and let me know what you think. I promise you won’t be let down. And you’ll probably become hooked (like me). I barely even drive my car anymore.

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Coffee Talk: Erika MacKay of Niche For Design

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I first met Erika MacKay at CoMotion 302 (then Platform 302) just over a year ago. Knowledgeable and well spoken, our brief conversation ended up being not-so brief. It lasted well over an hour. Erika’s company Niche For Design is unlike most interior design firms and I can’t quite put my finger on why. She’s been involved in so many projects throughout the city and beyond (checkout their portfolio) and I wanted to ask her about Niche. I wanted to know more. She’s a trendsetter, an amazing interior designer, and a pleasure to have coffee with. Niche For Design has a bright future ahead. Here’s what she had to say:

What got you into design?

I’ve always been into design. Ever since I was a kid I was drawing floor plans. Eventually I learned about interior design and realized that was the area I was most interested in. I ended up doing a degree in Interior Design at Algonquin College. It’s an industry where you always have to be learning and evolving as a designer and that’s something I’ve always loved.

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Tell me about your company, Niche for design.

I had worked for an architectural firm, for the government, a residential designer and a hotel designer, so I had a really broad range of skills. I really knew what kind of firm I wanted to work in and I felt there were ways to make the process better and more efficient. I wanted to offer services that some other firms weren’t really offering, so that’s when I decided to start Niche and that was in 2012. It was really small. It was just me. And now we are three people, plus lots of trades, contractors, and suppliers on a regular basis.

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What are some of your favourite projects so far?

All of our projects are so different and that’s why I love all of them. The coworking spaces that we worked on were definitely favourites, because they were close to our hearts, since coworking at Platform 302 helped us develop as a company. CoMotion and The Forge were definitely favourites. They were kind of cool. The last year we’ve been doing a lot of office projects. It’s really fascinating to get to know a company and their brand and tailoring the space to their needs as a business.

How do you get to know these companies?

We do a lot of research on their brand and how they want to be viewed. We interview them and go over the details of their space. We also do surveys with their staff too. Often we’ll survey all of the staff members to find out what they need functionally and to get additional ideas from them. For a company to have a space that is actually reflective of their branding and identity is a huge asset. It reinforces the culture they’re trying to build with their staff and it’s a great display for clients when they visit.

What’s the day-to-day life as an Interior Designer?

The programming and launch phases are big day-to-day projects, but they’re enjoyable. There are lots of spreadsheets for organizing the information of our clients. A big part of our time is construction drawings for our clients and ordering furniture. There’s always little glitches that come up, so problem solving and collaboration often happens day-to-day. It’s less glamorous, but I still enjoy it.

What are some of your influences in the design world?

Travel is a big influence for me. I love to observe new cultures and how they use space differently and  I love to learn about their traditional aesthetic. I like to see what’s trending in different areas too. We live in a globalized world, but there are always subtle differences in trends between cultures. It’s also important to pay attention to fashion. They’re pretty closely related. But I’d much rather shop for a sofa than clothing.

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What are some upcoming trends you see?

This neutral palate seems to be holding strong, but I’m seeing clients become bolder with their colours and patterns. Pattern tile is a really big trend that is coming through. So far it’s been neutral too, but we’re starting to see colour there. A lot more clients are looking at durable materials and wanting a better longevity in their products. They’re looking from a sustainable perspective and wanting things that last. Clients are becoming more environmentally conscious about their furniture choses.

What do you bring to the table that sets your apart from others?

I think having the team that I have in place is very important. They all have different skill sets and together we’re really strong. We try to be a lot more flexible. The tradition design process is really rigid, and it isn’t perfect. There has to be a better way, so we try and make the process smoother and easier for everyone. We are open to how the process could work.

Where do you see your firm in 5 years time?

I think we’ll probably have a showroom space. There will be some growth in the works. We’re already growing right now. I’d love to expand the team a bit more and focus on bigger projects that we are trying to obtain. We also want a warehouse space for faster distribution. There’s a lot of improvements that could happen within the process.

What is your favourite thing about Hamilton?

The people are very different. They’re very collaborative, open, and supportive. The architecture is amazing too. So many cool buildings in this city that are waiting for more creative uses. And the food scene in Hamilton is ridiculous. So amazing. There are so many great, unique independent restaurants throughout Hamilton. I don’t think I’ve been to a city where the food scene is like ours. There’s almost no chain restaurants downtown.

 

 

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