Tag Archives: modern

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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Architectural Spotlight: Stelco Tower

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Stelco Tower
Arthur C.F. Lau
100 King Street W
Completed: 1973

Look up, way up. 338 feet up to be exact. That’s the height of Stelco Tower, currently the second tallest building in Hamilton. A modern tower of 26-storeys designed by Quebec architect Arthur C.F. Lau.

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The building was erected to not only house Stelco’s head office, but also showcase the company’s newest steel, “Stelcoloy,” a special steel alloy that was meant to rust slower and protect the steel from future damage. Now a rusty brown through years of oxidation, the steel was a blue-grey when the building was completed in 1973. Not as striking as the patina of copper, but the material still has charm.

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The design is minimalist, almost Miesian, an International Style tower with local flair. However, it doesn’t have the prominent vertical flanged mullions of a Mies van der Rohe skyscraper. Instead the tower emphasizes height through a repetitive grid of horizontal bands of glass and Stelcoloy. The volume of the building draws your eyes up.

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At 100 King Street, the three-storey entrance is austere. Inside the lobby it’s strictly business, with an elevator core clad in stainless steel, red granite floors, and a lonesome security desk. Jackson Square Mall is connected to the tower on the north side and it can also be accessed via the malls plaza roof. Occupancy is low since Stelco moved out completely in 2004, leaving many stories vacant.

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Currently the 21st floor is an empty space available for events, offering breathtaking views of the city.

The tower was part of Hamilton’s first urban revitalization project that plagued the city with modern, auto-centric planning as early as 1958 and included the construction of Jackson Square starting in 1968.

Don’t be fooled by the rusty façade, better days are yet to come for Stelco Tower.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – April 27th

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Main St & James St S – History and Heritage x 3

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – March 11th

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Horizon Utilities Building – 55 John St N

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March 11, 2015 · 7:13 pm

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: Dundas Town Hall

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Dundas Town Hall
Francis Hawkins
60 Main Street, Dundas
Completed: 1849

Completed in 1849, Dundas Town Hall is one of the oldest remaining municipal buildings in Hamilton.

It was designed in the Neo-Romanesque tradition at a cost of £2500 by a local planing mill proprietor named Francis Hawkins. The exterior massing is row related, with Palladian symmetry on a central site in Dundas. Over the buildings history, two separate additions of differing styles have been added to the North and South sides.

The original two-storey building consists of a sandstone exterior, complete with a central domed clock tower. The main entrance is centrally located, flanked by pilasters, with two-doors and a leaded transom above.
DundastownThe lower and semi-elliptical upper-storey windows are double hung and proportioned according to the pilasters and horizontal belt courses, which divide the massing into a symmetrical unity.

Interior

A notable feature inside the original building is it’s second floor hall. Designed in the British revival style, the lofty ceilings, chandeliers and crown molding create a traditional hall setting that is now primarily used as an auditorium.

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In 1946, a staircase was added as the South Entrance for greater accessibility. To the naked eye, the addition looks to fit the original style. But when examined more closely, it was built in the Edwardian fashion.

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The addition is composed of Indiana limestone recovered from the ruins of a fire that demolished the Knox Presbyterian Church in 1940. With a broken pediment above the entrance, rusticated pilasters, double arch windows, and an urn embellishment, it subtly breaks away from the simplicity of the original plan.

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The second addition, by architect Arthur Taylor, is of a modern design. The single-storey, rotunda-like, circular council chambers features recessed windows, a peaked polygonal roof, and a modern interior. Two square offices were also added, creating architecture of geometric forms on the North Side of town hall.

Although the addition compliments the original town hall right down to the sandstone exterior, citizens, heritage advocates, and councilors were skeptical of the design. However, after lengthy debate, it was completed in 1972 to the applause of many.

The town hall is located on what was known as Haymarket Square, a meeting place for farmers throughout the area bringing produce to the town. When town hall was initially completed in 1849, it housed the town jail in the basement, alongside the Crystal Palace Saloon. The basement also had butchers’ stalls and farmers’ stands.

Since the amalgamation Dundas Town Hall sits underutilized, but continues to live on triumphantly as an essential piece of Dundas built heritage.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY – February 3rd

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The Fawcett House – Romar Dr, Dundas

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February 3, 2014 · 7:37 pm