Tag Archives: Development

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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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

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 – May 12th

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View of City Square from Durand Park

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May 12, 2013 · 8:46 pm

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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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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