Category Archives: Architecture

Architectural Spotlight: 505 York

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Whether walking, biking, or driving east along York Boulevard, 505 York is hard to miss. The building sticks out, almost alien-like amongst its more subtle neighbours. For the most part, its history has been a mystery. Until now.

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505 York Boulevard was built in 1979 and designed by Leonard M. Huget, an architect based out of Cayuga. The building was built for the Simcoe & Erie Insurance Company.

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The design is unique, a modern office building with some post-modern touches. Huget provides responsiveness to the context of the site through his consideration of elevation and scale. At street level, the façade is composed of precast concrete panels and brick, with a vertical band of windows overhead.

IMG_9939 On the second floor, the building projects like a trapezoidal-shaped box over the north and east sides, punched with a band of vertical windows. The façade and underside was originally clad in redwood paneling, while the roof was shingled.

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Further east, the building is adjoined to a five foot concrete and brick wall with cruciform holes. At intervals, three diamond-like geometric canopies cantilever over the sidewalk on concrete columns. Although they appear to be no more than post-modern ornament, they act as trees, providing shade and shelter for pedestrians. Birch trees divide each canopy by a ratio of three to one, although some have since been cut down. The wall hides the buildings parking lot from the street and the canopies provide lighting to the lot through mounted lights.

Photo courtesy of RAHB

Photo courtesy of RAHB

The building was purchased in 1990 by the Metropolitan Hamilton Real Estate Board, now the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. In 2010, it saw an exterior renovation by Chamberlain Construction Services Ltd. The redwood paneling made way for sheets of steel cladding, while the undersides saw a new accented wood paneling and a standing seam metal roof replaced the dated shingled roof. The planter boxers, which once sat at the ledge of the windows on the north façade, were also removed to complete the contemporary update.

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LED tube lights were installed in an offset pattern to the underside of the entrance and north façade, providing a brighter, safer walk for pedestrians along the boulevard. They were also added to the undersides of the diamond-like canopies for an illuminated continuity stretching the whole block.

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505 York is home to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, OPSEU, and Bel Canto Strings Academy.

Another notable building of Leonard M Huget is the Haldimand-Norfolk Administration Building in Townsend, Ontario. When it was completed in 1983, the building hailed as state-of-the-art. It shares similar aesthetic motifs with 505 York, though the Administration Building is much larger in size. It is now home to the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.

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Architectural Spotlight: Harry Howell (North Wentworth) Twin-Pad Arena

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From an aged barn-like structure to a LEED certified facility, North Wentworth Arena has seen quite the transformation.

The 18-million dollar twin-pad arena designed by dp.Ai Architects, in partnership with RDH Architects, was completed in 2012. In October 2014, it received a new name: The Harry Howell Arena. Named after legendary hockey player and award-winning broadcaster from Hamilton, Harry Howell.

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Tucked back amongst the countryside to the northwest of Clappison’s Corners, it sits imposingly as a stylish modern sports facility. The inverted pitched roof, corrugated cladding, black concrete blocks, and glass band entrance stir an instinctive competitive spirit as you approach.

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The interior is the opposite of imposing. It’s warm, functional, and sleek, with many contemporary touches. The first floor is outfitted with modular sofas, plastic covered backless benches for viewing, even coloured tubular garbage cans. There’s also a small boardroom at the southeast corner, surrounded by windows and exposed structural columns.

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The second floor is accessible via elevator or a frameless glass-railing staircase. Banners with murals from local artist Andrés Correa line the second floor windows and wall as you ascend the stairs. More modular sofas and benches inhabit the space, as well as a small kitchenette for events, and a larger boardroom to the southeast. The views of the rink are through floor-to-ceiling frameless glass, offering the spectator a warm unobstructed view from above.

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Throughout the building, the columns and walls have informative plaques highlighting the environmental and sustainable features, which awarded this building LEED Silver status.

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Inside the rink space, the pre-engineered steel framing is exposed with a non-traditional rigid frame. The H-beams line the ceiling and wall of the rinks, angling and dropping against the load bearing metal sheets like the legs of an arachnid.

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Spectators have clear views from orange polyurethane benches on the second floor, above the dasher boards wrapped in protective netting. The main floor of the rinks is for coaches, players, and staff only, but the outside viewing area is right against the boards. Both rinks are well lit with an efficient use of natural lighting via bands of frosted glass windows that line the exterior walls.

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The twin-pad arena was part of a master plan that included the relocation of two soccer fields, accommodation of a proposed highway interchange, and preservation of the existing arena. It also includes an expanded parking lot with charging stations for electric cars.

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Architectural Spotlight: Dundas Town Hall

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Dundas Town Hall
Francis Hawkins
60 Main Street, Dundas
Completed: 1849

Completed in 1849, Dundas Town Hall is one of the oldest remaining municipal buildings in Hamilton.

It was designed in the Neo-Romanesque tradition at a cost of £2500 by a local planing mill proprietor named Francis Hawkins. The exterior massing is row related, with Palladian symmetry on a central site in Dundas. Over the buildings history, two separate additions of differing styles have been added to the North and South sides.

The original two-storey building consists of a sandstone exterior, complete with a central domed clock tower. The main entrance is centrally located, flanked by pilasters, with two-doors and a leaded transom above.
DundastownThe lower and semi-elliptical upper-storey windows are double hung and proportioned according to the pilasters and horizontal belt courses, which divide the massing into a symmetrical unity.

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A notable feature inside the original building is it’s second floor hall. Designed in the British revival style, the lofty ceilings, chandeliers and crown molding create a traditional hall setting that is now primarily used as an auditorium.

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In 1946, a staircase was added as the South Entrance for greater accessibility. To the naked eye, the addition looks to fit the original style. But when examined more closely, it was built in the Edwardian fashion.

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The addition is composed of Indiana limestone recovered from the ruins of a fire that demolished the Knox Presbyterian Church in 1940. With a broken pediment above the entrance, rusticated pilasters, double arch windows, and an urn embellishment, it subtly breaks away from the simplicity of the original plan.

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The second addition, by architect Arthur Taylor, is of a modern design. The single-storey, rotunda-like, circular council chambers features recessed windows, a peaked polygonal roof, and a modern interior. Two square offices were also added, creating architecture of geometric forms on the North Side of town hall.

Although the addition compliments the original town hall right down to the sandstone exterior, citizens, heritage advocates, and councilors were skeptical of the design. However, after lengthy debate, it was completed in 1972 to the applause of many.

The town hall is located on what was known as Haymarket Square, a meeting place for farmers throughout the area bringing produce to the town. When town hall was initially completed in 1849, it housed the town jail in the basement, alongside the Crystal Palace Saloon. The basement also had butchers’ stalls and farmers’ stands.

Since the amalgamation Dundas Town Hall sits underutilized, but continues to live on triumphantly as an essential piece of Dundas built heritage.

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The Tims They Are a-Changin’

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On Saturday, the newly built two-storey Tim Hortons Store Number One, located at Ottawa Street and Dunsmure Road, opened its doors to the public.

After a slow down in growth and decreased market share due to the emergence of independent coffee shops, smaller coffee house chains, Starbucks, and other global chains like McDonald’s McCafé, Tim Hortons have rebranded themselves as a “café and bake shop.”

Part of this rebranding strategy is building stores that have an urbane feel to them. Stores that accommodate the in-and-out customer they’re used to, while providing a welcoming atmosphere for all demographics that wish to stay. This new design strategy is largely due to the ground they’re losing in larger markets, like Toronto, as small towns are already saturated with Tims at just about every corner.

The new Store #1 fits into that rebranding strategy that’s been contracted to WD Partners Architecture + Engineering, a global firm responsible for the design of many large retail companies like Whole Foods, TA, Big Lots, and Walmart. They are responsible for building and remodeling over 1,200 Tim Hortons locations and providing them with a ubiquitous look, complete with fireplaces, comfortable seating, and a more relaxing atmosphere.

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The exterior of the building resembles many of the newly constructed prefabricated Tim Hortons throughout Canada but with some notable touches, like the two-storey glass curtain walls, and iron I-beams projecting horizontally between storeys, paying homage to Hamilton’s industrial past.

The location of the entrance at the corner of Ottawa and Dunsmure is a much better location than before, when you had to make your way through a busy parking lot and risk getting hit just to reach the door. However, the new parking lot located at the rear is very small and bottlenecks at the entrance. Cars have to complete intricate dances in order to get in and out of the postage stamp sized lot.

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The landscaping isn’t very welcoming. Apart from the building being nearer to the street, and a beautiful statue of Tim Horton, there is nothing to keep patrons around. There is no seating, unless you want to sit on planter boxes, or the base of Tim Horton’s statue. Hopefully with summer comes a patio, like the initial renderings show.

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Inside, the counters are within close proximity to the entrance. If there is a lineup of more than six or seven patrons, you will be standing inside the vestibule of the building, or even outside the front doors. Although there is sixty seats in the new store, there is very limited seating on the main floor. Just a slender tabletop facing a window, with a handful of backless padded stools.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Photo: Sarah Dawson

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There are two flights of stairs, as well as elevators that take you to the second floor, where the “Memory Lane” museum and additional seating is located.

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As you make your way to the seated areas, a hallway of Tim Hortons memorabilia and souvenirs welcomes you. This trip down Memory Lane begins at the top of the stairs with a retro Tim Hortons counter, like the original store in 1964, and ends in the future, as you pass the by-gone eras of an iconic Canadian franchise.

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The upstairs seating area is open and includes communal tables, armchairs, and a panoramic view of Ottawa street. The light is there, but the warmth isn’t.

Although the outcome of the new Store #1 is better than expected, it would have been nice to see this project go to a design competition, where local architects could submit their concept designs. After all, they understand the context of an evolving Ottawa Street better than a firm that designs Walmarts.

At least there’s still no drive-thru.

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Tours With An Architect: The Dundas Museum & Archives

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Nestled amongst a quiet residential neighbourhood on Park Street West, sits the newly renovated Dundas Museum and Archives.

Completed in November 2013 at cost of $1.4 million, the new expansion features a double-height atrium connecting the Dundas Historical Society Museum to the Pirie House, expanded galleries, additional storage, and greater accessibility.

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“The north and south entrances (of the atrium) and the original exhibit space are all at different heights,” said Drew Hauser, Principle Architect at MSA Architects, the firm commissioned to design the expansion. “The atrium brings them all together, accessibly.”

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Dundas Museum and Archives Curator Kevin Puddister said the original entrance of the Dundas Historical Society Museum (completed in 1956) was a nightmare. “You had to go up two sets of stairs that were both steep. We had a chair lift, like on the [infomercials],” said Puddister. The exterior of the old entrance is currently enclosed in glass, which the museum plans to use to promote their events.

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Now there is an elevator in the atrium, added with the help of the Federal Government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund, connecting to the original exhibit space. The entrance to the exhibit space is open and shared, with the stairs and elevator side-by-side.

Hauser and his team expanded the galleries. The feature gallery “used to have something like a stage, but we got rid of it,” said Hauser, giving the gallery space more available square footage. The ceiling tiles have been removed, leaving the ceiling exposed and pot lights were installed on sliding tracks.

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The double-height atrium, named Robert & Eva (Betrum) Cole Atrium (after the family of the Dundas Museum founder H.G. Bertram), features exposed beams, celestial windows, corrugated steel cladding, and an area to display artifacts like the machine lathe that was built by John Bertram and Sons Co. in 1896. “I bought it on Kijiji!” boasts Puddister, with a smile.

Puddister says the atrium was inspired by Dundas’ industrial past. “What many people don’t realize is that Dundas was an industrial town, and the atrium has that industrial look to it.”

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The atrium also connects to the Pirie House, bought by the museum in 1974. The walls separating the rooms inside the house have been removed and the area is open, yet intimate, and has become a popular event space.

There is ease to the museums layout. A flow that is both sociable and transparent. “It’s a better space for security and engagement,” said Puddister. “We have staff throughout the museum. It’s more fluid.”

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The Doctors Office, a Gothic Revival building built in 1848 and moved behind the museum in 1974, is also connected via concrete pathway. “I love that we linked the museum to the Doctors Office. This space (the north lawn) would be a great place to throw events in the future,” said Hauser.

Both Hauser and Puddister are pleased with the renovation. “This was one of my favourite projects,” said Hauser. “The Board of Directors was really great to work with. They were really understanding.”

The Dundas Museum and Archives is located at 139 Park St West and is open from Tuesday to Saturday.

For more information visit http://www.dundasmuseum.ca/

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Architectural Spotlight: The Lister Block

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At the corner of James Street North and King William sits the Lister Block (or Lady Lister). Once neglected, the mid-rise commercial building has been brought back to life with a vibrancy that expresses Hamilton’s ambition.

Completed in 1924, the current Lister Block was erected on the grounds of the old Lister Chambers, built by Joseph Lister in 1886, which was demolished due to a fire in 1923. The building closed its doors in 1995 after decades of vacancy, neglect, and sprawling development.

LiUNA bought the Lister Block back in 1999, letting it sit vacant for over a decade. In 2010, LiUNA and  Hi-Rise Group began to renovate the building at the cost of $25 million, with a $7 million contribution from the province. The renovation was completed in early 2011.

Designed by architect Bernard Prack and constructed by the Pigott Construction Company, the six-storey Classical Renaissance building references the highly influential work of Chicago’s “father of the skyscraper”, Louis Sullivan.

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At street level, the first two floors are composed of off-white terracotta, complete with pilasters and Corinthian capitals, a projecting cornice, and a frieze design consisting of cartouches. Bay windows compliment the terracotta, while copper detailing and leaded transoms add visual weight to a light composition.

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The upper stories consist of a contrasting dark red brick, with double-hung windows, and copper alloy spandrels. Heavy fenestration and spandrels make the brick stand out, creating a vertical emphasis in a Sullivanesque fashion. The building is crowned with a projecting terracotta cornice adorned with organic ornamentation, creating the metaphorical “icing on the cake.”

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Inside, the arcade is complete with terrazzo tiles, wood framed storefronts, arched ceilings with crown molding, and detailed skylights that provide ample natural lighting. The upper floors have been renovated to accommodate offices for the city.

Although initially marred in controversy over its neglect, Lister Block  has been brought back from near extinction. The restoration of this significant piece of Hamilton heritage has made Lister Block a shining beacon of urban renewal.

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Architectural Spotlight: Witton Lofts

image-17Witton Lofts
Lintack Architects
Core Urban Inc. Development
50 Murray St
Completed: 2013

Due to demographic shifts, seemingly poor management, budget constraints, and multiple other circumstances, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is facing school closures throughout the city. Witton Lofts, formerly McIlwraight Public School, is a intelligent example of how you can adaptively re-use a former school without a wrecking ball.

Completed in 2013, the five-storey, 36-unit loft is a catalyst for redevelopment in the core. The design of the building effectively incorporates and preserves the two-storey school from 1925, while a three-storey emerald jewel box of glass and steel is superimposed on top of the neo-Romanesque building. The outcome is a harmonious marriage of contemporary and classical architecture. image-18 New entrances have been relocated to the east side of the building, where an elevator has been added for accessibility to the upper floors. image-20 Two additional entrances are also located at the rear of the building under original arched doorways. image-21 The schools façade has largely remained unchanged with its detailed limestone ornament and intricate, colourful brickwork. The only changes being cosmetic and structural upgrades, such as pot lights and new windows.

With a mixture of both fully enclosed and open-air balconies, the lofts offer panoramic vistas of both the bay and James Street North. image-22 Parking garages for residents have also been added for additional parking and storage.

Architect William Palmer Witton designed McIlwraight Public School while he was partnered with Walter Wilson Stewart. During his formative years, Witton apprenticed under Alder & Sullivan (two of America’s most influential architects) in Chicago between 1893 and 1894, where he was trained in the Beaux Arts tradition. His other notable Hamilton landmarks include Herkimer Apartments, George R. Allan Public School, and a chancel addition to Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, to name a few.

In 2013, Witton Lofts received the City of Hamilton Urban Design Award of Excellence for Adaptive Reuse.

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Architectural Spotlight: Atrium@MIP

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Atrium@MIP (formerly Westinghouse West Plant)
William P. Souter and Associates/Lintack Architects
175 Longwood Road South
Completed: 1950/2009

Kickstarting the renovation projects on Longwood Road South, the premier multi-tenant building at McMaster’s Innovation Park was The Atrium@MIP. Updated in 2009 at a cost of $17 million, it continues to be a strong model of adaptive reuse for the many vacant industrial buildings throughout West Hamilton and beyond.

Formerly the Westinghouse (and later Camco) West Plant office building, it was completed in 1950 as a classic example of modern industrial architecture. Although it has been described as International Style architecture, this should be considered conceptually as a blanket term, rather than an example of a particular style. Designed by William P. Souter and Associates, the building shares similarities with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building and Albert Kahn’s Burroughs Adding Machine Plant.

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The floor plans of The Atrium@MIP interior shadow the classic Larkin Administration Building – in particular, extensive spatial unity and natural light. The newly renovated framework closely resembles Wright’s Larkin masterpiece, including an innermost light court providing natural luminosity to all floors of the buildings vertical layout.

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Though much smaller in scale, the surface of the building shares a similar composition to the Burroughs Adding Machine Plant. The red brick façade, stringcourses, tower-like entrance, and symmetrical windows echo the modern influence of the 1930s that inspired Khan in Plymouth.

In 2005, extensive site reclamation of The Atrium@MIP began under the watchful eye of Lintack Architects. Immediately, the mechanical and electrical systems were replaced to increase energy efficiency throughout the entire superstructure. Then, interior partitions were removed to adjust to the new layout, providing better accommodation for a multitude of new offices and the addition of three new elevators.

At the same time, advanced energy efficient and cosmetic upgrades were applied to the exterior of the edifice. Modern insulation, state-of-the-art windows, and an R valve roof coupled with two L-shaped aluminum clad canopies flanking the entrance provide a necessarily contemporary component to the sweeping facelift performed.

Leading the way, the Atrium@MIP was a rewarding project that may provide important lessons to further generations of reuse pending on various uninhabited yet promising sites in Hamilton. These idle but auspicious locations represent the spirit of Hamilton, centralized in an ambitious city and the history it carries forward.

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Architectural Spotlight: The New Royal Connaught Lobby

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With a mixture of both neo-classical and contemporary design, the double-height lobby at The Royal Connaught has been brought back to its former glory and then some.Image
Surrounded by six, two-storey corinthian columns, the sheer size and pure white paint not only makes the columns pop, but also help define the space of the lobby. ImageImage
The ceiling is coffered with an intricate crown molding and three elegant glass raindrop chandeliers, while the floor features a combination of restored original marble and terrazzo tiles.Image ImageImage
A grand staircase leads up to an impressive mezzanine, where the details in the foliage of the column’s capitals, and the lobby’s frieze design can be examined up close. The mezzanine also offers a great view of the space and the four large arched windows that look out onto King Street.Image
The restored lobby will undoubtedly be great to not only host events, but also greet residents and visitors alike into Hamilton’s illustrious past and it’s ambitious future.

For more on the Royal Connaught: https://rebuildhamilton.com/2013/04/02/the-royal-connaught-is-getting-a-second-life/

 

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City Hall: Worth A Second Glance

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Photo Credit: Sarah Janes Photography

Designed by Stanley Roscoe in the International Style, Hamilton’s City Hall has lived an exciting life. Completed in 1960, the building has, over time, become a definitive piece of architecture in the city. With an emphasis on volume, glass, and space, City Hall is a spearhead structure for modernism in Hamilton.

Situated on Main Street, a one-way arterial road, the building has never received the attention it’s deserved. Much of architecture depends on how it is approached, and City Hall has an unfavourable location when it comes to this concept. Most people just drive right by it, usually too focused on trying to make that next green light.

Walk the grounds of this building and it’s easy to see what’s so alluring about it. The glass curtain wall on the northern façade of the eight-storey office building gleams in the sunshine, offering a feeling of assurance. The East and West sides – once clad in Georgian marble – are composed of white pre-cast concrete and adorned with austere clocks.

The podium it sits on includes a wall frieze of Italian glass tiles that not only gives the building a touch of panache, but a motif that runs right into the interior of the building. While the Council Chambers cantilevers over the forecourt, offering the ever-allusive promise of transparency within it’s geometrically domed roof.

Enter the building and see a style that would make most civic buildings green with envy. Terrazzo floors, wood accents, and a brushed aluminum double staircase greet visitors upon entry. The interplay between solid and space is clean and sleek, almost poetic.

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Symmetrical, light, and functional, the building has a worldliness that is vacant amongst most of the city’s building stock. Though City Hall still has its faults (not just in council). The building represents a modern urbanism that is anti-grid, draining Main Street of congestion, with it’s large forecourt, parking lot, and green space. The layout is something right out of Le Corbusier’s manuscript.

In 2005 City Council designated City Hall as a heritage building, with good reason. This underrated, underpublicized piece of civic architecture is a cornerstone building in our ambitious city.

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