Tag Archives: #community

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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PHOTO OF THE DAY – February 16th

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Mount St Joseph – 362 King St W

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February 16, 2015 · 7:04 pm

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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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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To be or not to be? That is the question for Tivoli Theatre

The Tivoli Theatre could be the latest piece to the James Street North revitalization puzzle, after rumours of a possible buyer for the dormant theatre have surfaced.

Belma Diamante, CEO of the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble, bought the theatre for just one dollar in 2004 (when the theatre was already closed) from the Sniderman family – after a wall collapsed on the south side of the building – and the theatre has been closed ever since.

Earlier this week, Diamante has revealed that there is a serious buyer but she has not disclosed who it is.

Tivoli Theatre, Circa 1947 (Photo Courtesy: Archive of Ontario)

Built in stages from 1875 to 1924, the Tivoli Theatre was originally a carriage factory and in 1924 it became a vaudeville venue and movie house. Later, in 1995 it became a venue for live stage until it was closed in 2004.

After the theatre was closed, the city spent over $300,000 to demolish much of the front of the building, including the façade. There have also been some contributions in the form of grants for building stabilization and heating improvements.

“The old auditorium has been empty for a number of years” said Mark Wilson, a member of the Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society who wrote about the history of Tivoli Theatre in the book Vanished Hamilton IV. “To revamp it, it’s going to be huge, huge money.”

Jason Farr, Ward 2 Councilor, says that a renovated Tivoli would further help with the James Street revival and there are numerous grants for which the potential buyer could apply.

“Whomever the purchaser is, if they’re not aware, there is a number of incentives for them,” said Farr.

The buyer could apply for CIT (Communities In Transition) grants, as well as heritage grants (the theatre is on the “Top Ten Most Endangered” list on Heritage Canada’s website).

“Whether it’s live music, or stage venues, or Die Hard, I have some very fond memories [in Tivoli Theatre] and I think a lot of Hamiltonians do too and to hear that there’s some progressive movements afoot is music to my ears,” said Farr.

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