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Constellate 2016 @ The Spice Factory


This Friday (March 11th) the Spice Factory is hosting Constellate Exhibition 2016.

Constellate features distinctive works by McMaster’s Studio Arts third and fourth year students. More than just painting, the exhibit includes sculpture, print, drawing, and digital work.

Artists at Constellate 2016 include: Kristina Durka, Parker Flood, Stephanie Grant, Rachel Hillock, Meaghan McMurrich, Jonathan Mitchell, Hilary Rosa, Hannah Sampson, Maria Simmons, Jasmyne Smith, Brittany Sostar, Jennifer Tewnion, Riley Vanderzee, Tess Visser, and Cassandra Whall.

There will also be performances by Thomas St. Clair, Timid the Brave, and Jeremy Sklad.

The Spice Factory is located at 121 Hughson Street North and doors open at 7:30PM.

For more details and photos visit: or @constellate2016 on Instagram



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Photo Tour: The Tivoli Theatre



January 13, 2016 · 7:45 pm

Tour: Theatre Lofts


It was a cold, rainy winter day as I entered 189 King Street East through the alleyway. I ascended a narrow corridor of stairs to the top floor and entered a loft that looked like something out of Brooklyn. Greeting me was the smiling face of Peter DeSotto. DeSotto and his partners, Alvaro Valencia and Marvin Grimm, of Urban Map Inc. are in the middle of repurposing the former Sandbar Tavern and I was about to take a tour.

It’s no longer going to be called the Sandbar, though. It’s now Theatre Lofts. And the loft I just entered, next door, is their current office. An open concept space, with an eclectic array of furniture, sleek kitchen, and even a clawfoot tub. After a quick glance of the space, I quickly grasped their vision: open concept, high ceilings, exposed brick. The new recipe for Hamilton’s evolving aesthetic.


We sat down to talk about the project. I found a seat on a midcentury Wings chair, with DeSotto directly across from me on a beautiful tufted brown leather sofa.

DeSotto is a violinist tenor and founder of the famed Quartetto Gelato who recently moved to Hamilton, but you would never know. His love for this city is palpable. Accompanying us were the realtors for this project, Jess Fabrizio and Vince Lazaruk. They were as interested in learning more about this space as I was.

The first thing DeSotto told me is how “toxic” the building was when they first started doing work. Moldy and dusty, they had to wear a breathing apparatus when stepping inside.

“It was a dark place. There was ‘Death’ written on the walls (and) blood on the walls,” he said.

Death would be the perfect word to describe the Sandbar Tavern, a building decaying for years on a street that is rapidly revitalizing. But the International Village is alive and this adaptive re-use project is both literally and figuratively theatre for the street, with a marvelous new façade rambunctiously acting its way into the spotlight as what will surely be one of Hamilton’s hottest addresses.

The King Street façade features restored brick, new fenestration, a jet-black cornice, a balcony on the second floor, and an accordion style glass front at street level, mirroring the two row buildings sandwiching it and creating continuity. If this were a stage set for the theatre, it’s been painted well.

Next we went for a tour of the space. Hard hats, muddy shoes, and makeshift stairs; DeSotto was not only the tour guide, but also the safety officer.

“We’ve been extracting two garbage bins of drywall and plaster per day, for months now,” he says as we lean over a wood safety balustrade to look at the excavation happening below.


At street level the new three thousand square foot space will host a restaurant (The Hamilton Culinary Institute, probably).


The second and third floor is going to be eleven lofts in total. Exposed brick, unique accents, plenty of windows, and even a balcony are just some of the features for the residents on the second floor. Weaving in and out of wall studs, DeSotto paints a picture of what the finished project will look like. It’s easy to envision when you’re on a tour with someone so enthusiastic about a space.



Just getting to the third floor took the balance of a gymnast, but was well worth it. 24-foot ceilings with two levels, glass block windows, I-beams from original signage, exposed columns and ductwork. These spaces will be a harmonious mixture of new and old.

What was a somber day turned into a hopeful day. A building is getting a new life in a tasteful manner. The International Village will get yet another diamond. It’s starting to run out of rough.

I would refer to Peter DeSotto as Shakespeare, and these lofts as Urban Maps Theatre, but the play they’ve written for this building is anything but a tragedy.

Theatre Lofts are slated to be complete by April 2016.

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PEDrides Spotlight: Mills Hardware


Mills Hardware is an adaptive-reuse project that was completed by Thier + Curran Architects in 2013 at a cost of nearly four million dollars. Dating back to 1909, the building went through a lot of changes. From hardware store, to strip club, to now arts centre.

It boasts a multi-purpose gallery, event space, eight artist studios, a meeting room, and twelve loft apartments.


The building has seen much transformation inside. Before work was done, the second floor was replaced by a mezzanine and has since been removed for a two-storey ground floor. The event space is 1800 square feet and is multi-purpose. A portal like metal threshold complete with railings and slat benches, crafted in a raw, industrious manner, extends across the room and separates the event space from the entrance. The space also includes a bar to the east side. Walls are exposed, pipes are showing, and the character of the building can be read in its walls.

Behind the event space are four, two storey studios. The studios include celestial lighting and metal doors displaying inspirational quotes from famous artists. The size of the studios ranges from 400-500 square feet.


The exterior is a complimentary mixture of old and new. The original masonry at the front of the building was restored, with new large picture windows installed. At street level, the curtain wall is angular and inverted from the street. It draws the passerby in and invokes curiosity. Metal panels playfully angle down from the glass and into the ground, and a large pivoting Brazilian wood door welcomes guests into the event space.

Above the ground floor are twelve artist’s lofts ranging from 500-to-700 square feet. The apartments are equipped with light parquet wood floors, wood trim, and stylish kitchen spaces. Some of the units include exposed walls and wood ceilings with original steel columns and beams. The common areas carry the motifs that exist throughout the building, like super graphics, bright colours, industrial lighting, and exposed brick. Another unique feature of the old building is a mailbox and bulletin board installed into a display wall that surrounds an old safe.


The rear of the building includes more restored brick, a corrugated steel clad third floor, and glass block windows. Stylish, preserved, and re-used, Mills Hardware is a catalyst for adaptive re-use in the core and has become an anchor of inspiration and place making on King Street.

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On Sunday I had the opportunity to lead a PedRides bicycle tour on contemporary architecture in the core. The focus of my tour was on adaptive-reuse and restoration, as well as new builds.

I started the tour with a quote from one of the great architectural theorists, Rem Koolhaas. He said, “Preservation is overtaking us.” His theory is as the year’s progress, preservation is becoming more prevalent. It’s being approached proactively instead of retroactively and contemporary architecture plays an important role in regards to a buildings future form and function.

The route was very ad-hoc and the buildings I discussed varied. I didn’t cover everything I wanted because I was under the weather and new to giving tours. When it comes to tours, I’m generally more comfortable in a double-decker bus listening to some overly enthusiastic guide rattle off the same information all day to a bunch of snap-happy tourists.

The ride was fun, the people were great, and it was in the city I love. What more could you ask for? I would gladly do it again.

I will be posting articles about each building in the same order as the tour (except for Witton Lofts, as I’ve already written about it). First up is Mills Hardware. Stay tuned!

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Exhale Presents: HILOTRONS & Scattered Clouds @ The Baltimore House on April 26th


Don’t miss HILOTRONS and Scattered Clouds at The Baltimore House on April 26th for a double album release party, brought to you by Exhale Music Group.

HILOTRONS latest release, To Trip With Terpsichore, delivers a whimsical spectrum of instrumentation, sound, and energy. If you can’t wait, the entire album is available to stream through Exclaim!

Scattered Clouds lend contrastively post-apocalyptic sounds to their moniker. The band aims to deliver a “trance inducing, orchestral and intense cinematic experience”, and their latest, The First Empire, offers just that. The six-track album builds up to an undeniably eerie, haunting sound.

The bill will also feature groovy rhythms from local Dundas band, the Boogies, making for a night you won’t want to miss.

Doors open at 8PM. Tickets are $8. RSVP.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – December 25th


Christmas Time at the Whitehern Historic House and Garden – 41 Jackson St. West

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December 25, 2014 · 8:53 pm