Tag Archives: Main St

City Hall: Worth A Second Glance

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Photo Credit: Sarah Janes Photography

Designed by Stanley Roscoe in the International Style, Hamilton’s City Hall has lived an exciting life. Completed in 1960, the building has, over time, become a definitive piece of architecture in the city. With an emphasis on volume, glass, and space, City Hall is a spearhead structure for modernism in Hamilton.

Situated on Main Street, a one-way arterial road, the building has never received the attention it’s deserved. Much of architecture depends on how it is approached, and City Hall has an unfavourable location when it comes to this concept. Most people just drive right by it, usually too focused on trying to make that next green light.

Walk the grounds of this building and it’s easy to see what’s so alluring about it. The glass curtain wall on the northern façade of the eight-storey office building gleams in the sunshine, offering a feeling of assurance. The East and West sides – once clad in Georgian marble – are composed of white pre-cast concrete and adorned with austere clocks.

The podium it sits on includes a wall frieze of Italian glass tiles that not only gives the building a touch of panache, but a motif that runs right into the interior of the building. While the Council Chambers cantilevers over the forecourt, offering the ever-allusive promise of transparency within it’s geometrically domed roof.

Enter the building and see a style that would make most civic buildings green with envy. Terrazzo floors, wood accents, and a brushed aluminum double staircase greet visitors upon entry. The interplay between solid and space is clean and sleek, almost poetic.

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Symmetrical, light, and functional, the building has a worldliness that is vacant amongst most of the city’s building stock. Though City Hall still has its faults (not just in council). The building represents a modern urbanism that is anti-grid, draining Main Street of congestion, with it’s large forecourt, parking lot, and green space. The layout is something right out of Le Corbusier’s manuscript.

In 2005 City Council designated City Hall as a heritage building, with good reason. This underrated, underpublicized piece of civic architecture is a cornerstone building in our ambitious city.

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Architectural Spotlight: Salvation Army – Lawson Ministries Autism Centre

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Salvation Army –  Lawson Ministries Autism Centre
533 Main St East
Trevor Garwood-Jones & Hanam Architects
Built: 2010

Built in 2010, the Salvation Army –  Lawson Ministries Autism Centre was the last building designed by the late architect Trevor Garwood-Jones.

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The centre’s distinctive architecture manages to fit seamlessly within the streetscape. It achieves this through its compatible scale with a high-peaked roof, punched windows, and house-like feel.

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The exterior of the building consists of a yellow compressed concrete cladding, as well as a subtle black cladding along the bottom and sides of the building. The bold yellow cladding creates a uniqueness that separates the centre from its neighbours.

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A rooftop patio provides outdoor space to the small infill lot. The frameless glass panels provide an enclosure that more defines the surrounding space.

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The entrance of the building has a suspended canopy with an accented wood underside. The porch-like entrance signifies the transition between public and private space.

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Inside the building, many of the outer walls consist of a glass block paneling, allowing natural light while maintaining privacy.

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The reception space has some notable features such as an elevator (the building is completely accessible), wood accenting, and a bright orange wall that adds visual weight to the hallway.

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The peaked ceiling is highlighted with timber bolted trusses, providing the reception space with a rustic feel.

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A feature room of the centre is the Snoezlen Room. This room offers therapeutic multisensory stimulation through the use of lighting, sounds, colors, scents, and other senses.

Other rooms in the centre include multi-purpose rooms, a literacy room, café, meeting room, offices, and a mini gym.

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