Category Archives: Architecture

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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Heritage Spotlight: Landed Banking and Loan Company Building

At the corner of Main and James sits a bite of The Big Apple. The Landed Banking and Loan Company Building, designed by Charles Mills, is a direct descendent of New York City’s Knickerbocker Trust and Safe Deposit Bank building.

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Finished in 1908, The Landed Banking and Loan Company building is the oldest remaining bank building in Hamilton.  Although it’s inspired by another building, the old bank has it’s own unique features. Between the floors a wall panel makes the pilasters less prominent, but it’s presence is just as commanding. The exterior is composed of Indiana limestone and also consists of large-scale entablature, and a balustrade.

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Located at Fifth Ave and 34th street in New York City, the Knickerbocker Trust and Safe Deposit Bank building was designed in the Beaux-Art tradition by the firm of McKim, Mead and White. Completed in 1903, the three-storey Classic Revival bank consisted of a Vermont marble exterior, colossal Doric columns, pilasters, and traditional Corinthian orders. The transition between the facades demonstrated responsiveness to context, while the entablature and balustrade added a masterful touch.

From left to right: The Knickerbocker Trust Company in 1904; the 1921 addition; and how it looks today

From left to right: The Knickerbocker Trust Company in 1904; the 1921 addition; and how it looks today

When first commissioned, the Knickerbocker Trust and Safe Deposit Bank building was meant to be 13 stories. However, the solution to super-impose an additional 9-storey element didn’t come to fruition until 1921 when ten stories were added. The building was redesigned in 1958 and is now unrecognizable.

In 1986 the Landed Banking and Loan Company Building was granted heritage status. There have been minor repairs to the building, including the removal of a night safe deposit box on the west elevation. With the Canadian flag flying high, the building is one of the city’s most treasured pieces of built heritage.

Hamilton 1, New York 0

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