Tag Archives: #bayfront

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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Design Spotlight: The North End Free Library

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The North End Free Library
Thier + Curran Architects Inc.
56 Macaulay St W
Completed: July 2015

Sometimes all you need is a bench and a book. Mixed with the right setting and it can be a fairytale of imagination, inspiration, and conversation. In this case, Thier + Curran Architects wrote the perfect story.

With a bench on a steel frame and a box full of books, the recently completed North End Free Library is a little community oasis on a quiet street.

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The raw steel frame is exposed with all the marks and traces of its construction. Perched atop the L-shaped boxlike frame is an ipe slat bench for the passerby to stop and read, or converse with neighbours.

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A cedar library box hangs down against the frame like a light. With a decorative resin window and self-closing hinges, the little library comfortably holds an adequate amount of books in a sealed space. It’s like finding a cupboard of educational treasures.

Designed and financed by Thier + Curran Architects, the library presides on the Scime/Curran Residence, an adaptive re-use project by TCA.

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Each book even comes with a custom stamp designed by the firm. Take a book, or leave a book.

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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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PHOTO OF THE DAY – July 14th

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The Witton Lofts – 50 Murray St W

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July 14, 2014 · 10:42 am

PHOTO OF THE DAY – May 2nd

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“Râfaga – Unleashed” by Veronica de Nogales Leprevost and Edwin Dam – Pier 8, Hamilton

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May 2, 2013 · 8:16 pm

Inaugural Hamilton Santa 5k run a success, despite cold

Over 500 runners dressed as Santa Claus took part in the inaugural Hamilton Santa 5k run on Sunday morning at Hamilton’s waterfront.

It was a windy, brisk morning, with scattered flurries. Despite the cold weather, runners came out in droves for the festive event.

All participants who entered the run were given a full Santa suit, including a beard.

Santas of all sizes take over Hamilton’s waterfront during the Hamilton Santa 5k run

The race started at the Hamilton Yacht Club, went through Pier 4 Park, looped around Bayfront Park, and finished out front of Williams Coffee Pub.

VR PRO, the company that held the event, already has a Santa 5k run in Burlington, Ontario and Burlington, Vermont, before adding a third Santa race in Hamilton.

Kelly Arnott, Race Director for VR PRO, said that despite the cold weather, the run was a success.

“The event was totally amazing today […] it was everything we expected. Young Santas, old Santas, fast Santas, slow Santas, tall Santas, short Santas – everything,” said Arnott.

Victor Gatundu, who won the 5-kilometre run with a time of 16:50, said the race was fun, but he had some technical difficulties during his run.

“It was a good race. It was very cold and windy out there, my gloves were too thin, and my [Santa] pants exploded during my run!” said Gatundu.

Arnott said all the participants had a great time and next year she expects double the amount of registrants.

“[Hopefully] next year we’ll get one thousand [participants],” she said.

The Santa 5k run raised funds for Hamilton’s Waterfront Trust and the Good Shepherd Hamilton.

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Controversy on the waterfront?

Hamilton’s City Council now wants to discuss the possibility that Burlington pay more rent for LaSalle Park.

La Salle Park is a 56-acre piece of waterfront property on Burlington’s lakeshore that is operated and maintained by the City of Burlington, but owned by the City of Hamilton.

The Park consists of two banquet halls, a marina, waterfront trail, and sports fields.

Geraldo’s Banquet and Conference Facility at LaSalle Park

The City of Hamilton is receiving one dollar a year from the City of Burlington under the current agreement that was signed in 1983. The deal is set to expire in 10 years time.

Hamilton’s council voted Tuesday for the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee – a committee consisting of members from both Hamilton and Burlington’s City Council – to begin discussions on the LaSalle Park agreement and to establish a “fair market value” lease.

Ward 4 Hamilton Councilor Sam Merulla moved the motion on Tuesday.

“You have your banquet centre there, as well as your marina. If you were to fully exploit the marina’s potential and look at the nearly 300,000 dollars they’re making from the banquet centre, the one dollar per year is not a fair market value for the land” Merulla said.

However, not everyone agrees with the motion. Ward 1 Burlington councilor Rick Craven (a member of the Greater Bay Area Subcommittee) says that changes to the lease are not on the agenda.

“The subject on the agenda right now […] is the long term expectation that ownership of the park will transfer to the City of Burlington. Under what conditions and for what in return is going to be a very lengthy agenda. That is on the agenda,” said Craven, “increasing the lease or the rent in the short run is not on the agenda.”

Councilor Merulla said that if an agreement isn’t reached before the lease is up Hamilton could possibly keep the land for waterfront development. However, Councilor Craven said that development can’t and won’t happen because under Burlington by-law the parkland is not zoned for that purpose.

“He’s wrong,” said Craven. “His comments have not been helpful.”

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