Category Archives: Development

Hamilton is working on installing some new public art

By: Katie Stoneman

Hamilton’s Claremont access will soon get an artistic facelift, and it won’t be at the hands of graffiti artists. The plan is to commission a mural for the walls of the Claremont access that faces Carter Park.

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“The Carter Park art mural will represent a new beginning for our neighbourhood and we are very excited about it,” said Brian Goodman, president of the Stinson Community Association.

An open call to artists for the Carter Park mural is currently being prepared and should be released this month. The mural will be located on the concrete wall of the Claremont access that is considered quite an eyesore in the area.

A report from the focus group for the project outlines the goals of the mural. The report states that, “The Claremont access does not contribute to the quality of the park and is seen as physically dividing the neighbourhood. Any art work should minimize (the Claremont Access’s) impact on the park.”

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“The mural will be an immediate focus point, an attraction and will give life and meaning to that cold impersonal wall. In an underlying way it suggests pride, safety, and announces there is a wonderful community here,” said Goodman.

The city had an open call for artists for the same project last year, but the mural was never completed.

Part of the issue was problems some artists were having with the city’s art procurement process. Complaints were made about having to pay the non-refundable fee of $64.99 online or $45.99 in person for the Request for Proposal documents. The process has since been reviewed and revised.

The review suggested that the fees be waived, and that the responsibility of the administration of the Public Art Acquisition Process be turned over to the Tourism and Culture Divisions city staff.

Another part of the issue was with the submissions made last year.

“The jury didn’t feel they got the propositions they wanted,” said Ken Coit, the City of Hamilton’s Art in Public Places Coordinator.

The jury, which remains confidential, is different for each project. The focus group, or jury, is usually made up of artists, stakeholders, business people and other people with an interest in the project.

“It usually takes three to four months once we actually have the submissions in. We have to leave time for the artists process,” said Coit.

There are currently two other pubic art projects that are in the consultation stage for the city of Hamilton, including the Battlefield Park art competition.

The consultation stage asks the public for their opinion on the proposed art projects. For Battlefield Park there are three propositions under a theme that interprets the outcomes of Battle of Stoney Creek and the War of 1812.

“The importance of a public art project cannot be understated. Besides providing a point of interest, it provides a dialogue that transcends what language you speak, what religion you follow, or what mental state you are in,” said Goodman.

This article is also abbreviated and published at The Bay Observer and in April’s print edition

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Architectural Spotlight: MARC

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MARC – McMaster University Automotive Resource Centre
Longwood Rd. and Frid St.
Perkins + Will Architects
In development

MARC is McMaster University’s new automotive research centre that is currently being built in the shell of an old industrial building at the north end of the Careport Centre.

The exterior of the building is getting a major facelift. Floor to ceiling windows now surround the new atrium on the eastern end of the building that was originally just loading docks. The old corrugated rusty grey steel has been replaced by darker gunmetal coloured steel, accented with grey panel cladding and celestial windows. The 14 loading docks have been narrowed to four, the ten docks replaced by a red brick wall with ground level windows.

The centre will occupy approximately 70 000 square feet of space, with 50 000 square feet on the first floor and the remaining square footage on the second floor. The space will be comprised of labs, offices, and common areas.

McMaster’s Automotive Resource Centre is the latest addition to the McMaster Innovation Park and will provide a place for the research and development of green automotive technologies. The university received an $11.5 million grant from FedDev Ontario, a federal agency launched in August 2009 to help respond to Ontario’s economic challenges. The project will cost approximately $26 million and 120-150 people from the private, public, and academic sectors will be employed at MARC.

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The Royal Connaught is getting a second life

Remember Harry Stinson’s proposed 100-storey spire for the Royal Connaught? Thankfully, Valery Homes and Spallecci Group have a better idea.

The 100-storey spire

Harry Stinson’s proposed 100-storey spire for the Royal Connaught

In partnership with KNY Architects, these developers plan to construct a residential building that pays homage to the Royal Connaught’s rich history, while retrofitting it with a new look.

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The plan is to revitalize and incorporate the existing Connaught, and add three new towers. These three towers will be superimposed beside, as well as behind the Connaught, to surround the existing building. The new towers will be 36, 33, and 24 storeys, with 700 units in total.

Artist renderings show the new, more contemporary-looking towers consisting of a smoky grey glazed glass that rises up the entire height of the towers. Historical elements incorporated into the new towers, like the Connaught’s large overhanging cornice and signature red brick, will accent the juxtaposing modern additions.

The new development will fill all but a corner of the block that surrounds Main and King, between John and Catherine. Access to parking for the complex will be via Catherine Street and will include two underground levels and seven above.

A seven-storey podium will also be added, that is meant to compliment the Connaught and connect the additional towers. The podium will have an accessible rooftop balcony on the eighth floor that will offer several amenities for residents of the towers. Some of the amenities listed include a theatre, fitness center, party room, and a terrace complete with cabanas and fire-pits. At ground level, the podium will offer 13 000 square feet for commercial space along King Street, Catherine Street, and Main Street.

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The Royal Connaught itself will be going through some major changes. The upper floors will be reconstructed to include the eighth-floor connection to the additional three towers. The southern end of the building, a three-storey addition that contains the Grand Ball Room, will be demolished to accommodate the new towers. The Edwardian façade, with its red brick, limestone, and large arcade-style windows will remain largely untouched. Once finished, the 13-storey Connaught will consist of 135 units.

Built by Harry Frost in 1914, the Royal Connaught hotel has changed hands several times through its lifetime. It has also played host to some of the most notable visitors to ever come to Hamilton, including Pierre Trudeau and Al Capone.

Residences are said to start at around $100,000. For more information visit: www.royalconnaught.com

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Architectural Spotlight: Riccio Towers

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Riccio Towers
Upper James St S. and Stone Church Rd
KNY Architects
In proposal

Riccio Towers is a proposed condominium development that would be situated at the corner of Upper James and Stone Church, on the Hamilton Mountain.

At grade, the towers would have a connecting podium with storefronts for commercial usage. The two towers are of a contemporary design, consisting primarily of glass, with an offsetting inward twist at each floor – a design similar to the Absolute World towers in Mississauga (which just won the archdaily.com Building of The Year award). Both towers would be 30 storeys, with a combined total of 290 units. There are also townhouses proposed for the eastern side of the development – making for an easier, more seamless transition with the surrounding neighbourhood of low-rise buildings, townhouses, and detached homes.

Although this proposed development could be a great addition to the city’s core (the design would undoubtedly add beauty to the downtown skyline), these towers would be a daring, groundbreaking fit into the ever-growing Hamilton Mountain. Additionally, Riccio Towers would also make an easy to spot landmark for the mountain – a reference point for wayfinding in an area surrounded by big box stores, strip malls, and low-rise buildings.

This development would be close to a number of amenities, including the John C. Munro Airport, and just a short drive to the Lincoln Alexander Expressway and the downtown core.

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Part One: A “Portrait of a City” then and now

Over the last 67 years much has changed in Hamilton. In the 1946 promotional video “Portrait of a City” there is a lot to compare between Hamilton’s past and present. Here, in this three part series, is a timeline breakdown of the video:

1:47 — Dundurn Castle is one of Hamilton’s most visited and notable sites. It was home to Sir Allan MacNab – one of Canada’s first Premiers. Before the castle was erected, the British used the site as a military post during the War of 1812. Later, when English architect Robert Wetherall was designing the building, MacNab had him incorporate some of the military post into the overall design. The castle was constructed between 1832 and 1835.

3:14 — Did you notice the streetcar on King Street? Believe it or not, Hamilton used to have streetcars (hence, the term “Hamilton Street Railway”). They were in use until 1951, when changes to the city’s transportation infrastructure began and streets were being converted from two-way to one-way. Over 60 years later, with a big push from former Mayor Fred Eisenberger and the support of the Provincial Government, LRT talks were back on the table in Hamilton (although these talks have since stalled).

3:30 — Hamilton still has a prime geographical location in the centre of the Golden Horseshoe. Here is a current list of cities and their proximity to Hamilton, via Hamilton Economic Development.

4:46 — Liuna Station, located on James St. North, is a train station turned banquet hall that was designed by Canadian National Railway architect John Scholfield. Built between 1929 and 1930, the station is of a neo-classical architectural design. The southern façade, a beautiful feature of the building, has a deep portico, with Doric columns that pay homage to Parthenon. Liuna Station was in service until 1993 and sat abandoned until 2000, when it was renovated and converted into a beautiful banquet hall that hosts some of the most distinguished balls and benefits in the city – a great example of heritage preservation.

5:19 — Hamilton’s port lands are slowly receding into recreational waterfront – which is important for the future development of Hamilton – due to the city’s shrinking industrial economy. However, there is still plenty of activity in the bay. For example, the ongoing remediation plan for Randle Reef, which proposes more commercial space, as well as some pedestrian-friendly amenities.

Stay tuned for the second instalment…

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February 25, 2013 · 1:43 pm

If you build it, they will come

2013 looks to be a very promising year for the City of Hamilton. From the West End to the East End we will be seeing a lot of new developments gracing the city’s skyline.

Among these new developments are:

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Urban West – 427 Aberdeen
Aberdeen Ave and Dundurn St. S
KNY Architects
New Horizon Developments
Starting at $233,990

Urban West is situated at the corner of Dundurn and Aberdeen. Sitting near the Niagara Escarpment, it offers a beautiful view of the city.  At grade the exterior of the building is composed of stone, followed by two floors of brick, as well as stucco accents that run vertically to the top of the building. The building also has plenty of glass, offering more natural sunlight and panoramic views.

This seven-storey complex consists of two floors of parking space, seven units for the next four floors and five larger penthouse units on the seventh floor. The location of Urban West is one of the best in the city. It is close to a number of amenities including Locke Street, McMaster University and the downtown core.

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City Square Parkside Condominiums
Charlton St and Park St. S
KNY Architects
New Horizon Developments
Starting at $206,999

City Square has been one of the hottest new additions to Hamilton’s real estate market. The Square will consist of three towers (the first one is selling out quickly). This complex is situated in the heart of Hamilton’s historic Durand District. These condominiums are beautifully designed by KNY Architects. The architecture is Art Deco-inspired, consisting primarily of stone and glass with a stucco finish, accented with a steel mansard style roof.

All three condominiums will be nine-storeys, with 75 units. There will be underground parking provided on site, as well as some surface amenities. City Square is also adjacent to Durand Park and within walking distance of Locke Street, James Street, and the city’s core.

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Homewood Suites by Hilton
Main St. W and Bay St. S
DCYSA Architects
Vrancor Developments

Homewood Suites by Hilton is being built in the heart of the city and right across from McMaster’s new Downtown Health Campus. The hotel is also just a stone-throw away from Hess Village, Copps Coliseum, Hamilton Place, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and other amenities in the downtown core.  Built on the lot that once was occupied by HMP Motors, these suites promise to be a major boost for Hamilton’s core.

The hotel will feature a post-modern architectural design. It will be 15-storeys, with 182 rooms and suites. The hotel will include retail shops at street level, a restaurant, a gym, and a convention centre for meetings.

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Changes coming to Gore Park

Call it the end of an era, a new chapter, or a failure. No matter what you call it, change is coming to Gore Park.

As of January 9th, developer Wilson Blanchard was cleared by City Council for the demolition of 18-28 King Street East – a series of four row houses on the south side of Gore Park – to make room for a mixed-use condominium development. However, after community opposition, Blanchard has decided to withdraw his application to demolish all but two of the buildings. But was this a fair compromise?

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These four Victorian-era row houses were erected between 1840 and 1875. Renowned architect William Thomas (famous for St. Lawrence Hall in Toronto) designed the three-storey buildings, 18 and 22 King Street (which Blanchard plans to keep). The buildings facades, with intricately designed cornices and arcade-style windows, are still intact.

All four historical buildings, however, should have been designated as heritage buildings by Heritage Canada, which would prevent them from being demolished.

The City of Hamilton’s Heritage Committee’s track record for preserving buildings is far from flattering. In 2006, the Province had to step in and save the Lister Block after it was slated for demolition. If it weren’t for community outcry, all four buildings – instead of two – would currently be under the wrecking ball.

These row houses, sometimes referred to as “streetwalls”, are integral to the streetscape of Gore Park – the city’s Civic Square.

The rows of these attached structures simulate continuity, essentially enclosing the square, therefore defining the space for the activities Gore Park can host. Like the Gore Park Master Plan – a pedestrian-friendly plaza closed off from traffic.

However, the outcome isn’t all that bad. Artist renderings released by the developer reveal the infill of buildings at a three-storey height beside what would be the two remaining buildings, as well as taller mixed-use buildings superimposed into the adjacent parking lot that sits idle.

Another positive outcome from this compromise is the active role the community played in shaping their city’s future development. This role is an important element in achieving a sustainable city.

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