Tag Archives: modernism

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 – June 1st

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Highland Secondary School (Architect: Stanley Roscoe) – Dundas

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June 1, 2015 · 9:40 pm

Architectural Spotlight: 505 York

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Whether walking, biking, or driving east along York Boulevard, 505 York is hard to miss. The building sticks out, almost alien-like amongst its more subtle neighbours. For the most part, its history has been a mystery. Until now.

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505 York Boulevard was built in 1979 and designed by Leonard M. Huget, an architect based out of Cayuga. The building was built for the Simcoe & Erie Insurance Company.

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The design is unique, a modern office building with some post-modern touches. Huget provides responsiveness to the context of the site through his consideration of elevation and scale. At street level, the façade is composed of precast concrete panels and brick, with a vertical band of windows overhead.

IMG_9939 On the second floor, the building projects like a trapezoidal-shaped box over the north and east sides, punched with a band of vertical windows. The façade and underside was originally clad in redwood paneling, while the roof was shingled.

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Further east, the building is adjoined to a five foot concrete and brick wall with cruciform holes. At intervals, three diamond-like geometric canopies cantilever over the sidewalk on concrete columns. Although they appear to be no more than post-modern ornament, they act as trees, providing shade and shelter for pedestrians. Birch trees divide each canopy by a ratio of three to one, although some have since been cut down. The wall hides the buildings parking lot from the street and the canopies provide lighting to the lot through mounted lights.

Photo courtesy of RAHB

Photo courtesy of RAHB

The building was purchased in 1990 by the Metropolitan Hamilton Real Estate Board, now the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington. In 2010, it saw an exterior renovation by Chamberlain Construction Services Ltd. The redwood paneling made way for sheets of steel cladding, while the undersides saw a new accented wood paneling and a standing seam metal roof replaced the dated shingled roof. The planter boxers, which once sat at the ledge of the windows on the north façade, were also removed to complete the contemporary update.

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LED tube lights were installed in an offset pattern to the underside of the entrance and north façade, providing a brighter, safer walk for pedestrians along the boulevard. They were also added to the undersides of the diamond-like canopies for an illuminated continuity stretching the whole block.

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505 York is home to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, OPSEU, and Bel Canto Strings Academy.

Another notable building of Leonard M Huget is the Haldimand-Norfolk Administration Building in Townsend, Ontario. When it was completed in 1983, the building hailed as state-of-the-art. It shares similar aesthetic motifs with 505 York, though the Administration Building is much larger in size. It is now home to the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand and Norfolk.

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Converted: New Student Residences on Main St W

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One of Joseph B. Singer’s lesser-known buildings is being converted into student apartments.

The modern office building located at 1100 Main Street West, completed in 1965, is getting a new lease on life. After years of businesses coming and going, the three-storey office building will be repurposed to accommodate residential space for students of McMaster University.

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Following a record of site condition, Webb Planning Consultants had applied for and received a Zoning By-law Amendment for residential use as of December 2014. The once commercial building will be converted into a 41-unit multiple student residence (including a residential property next door) by Collaborative Structures Limited.

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The building is composed of a steel and concrete frame structure, with a white and black brick façade, steel mullions, and a piano key-like cornice.

Joseph B. Singer’s most notable building in Hamilton was the recently demolished Board Of Education Building (built in 1966). Other notable buildings include Adas Israel Synagogue, Shalom Village Nursing Home, and many schools throughout Hamilton, including Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School.

The new student residence is called MainMac Residence and units are already available for rent. The property is owned by Collingwood Cambridge Holdings.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY: October 2nd

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The Gary Proctor Building – 99 John St N

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October 2, 2014 · 10:04 pm

PHOTO OF THE DAY – September 23rd

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Canadian Westinghouse Head Office – 286 Sanford Ave N

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Architectural Spotlight: Atrium@MIP

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Atrium@MIP (formerly Westinghouse West Plant)
William P. Souter and Associates/Lintack Architects
175 Longwood Road South
Completed: 1950/2009

Kickstarting the renovation projects on Longwood Road South, the premier multi-tenant building at McMaster’s Innovation Park was The Atrium@MIP. Updated in 2009 at a cost of $17 million, it continues to be a strong model of adaptive reuse for the many vacant industrial buildings throughout West Hamilton and beyond.

Formerly the Westinghouse (and later Camco) West Plant office building, it was completed in 1950 as a classic example of modern industrial architecture. Although it has been described as International Style architecture, this should be considered conceptually as a blanket term, rather than an example of a particular style. Designed by William P. Souter and Associates, the building shares similarities with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building and Albert Kahn’s Burroughs Adding Machine Plant.

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The floor plans of The Atrium@MIP interior shadow the classic Larkin Administration Building – in particular, extensive spatial unity and natural light. The newly renovated framework closely resembles Wright’s Larkin masterpiece, including an innermost light court providing natural luminosity to all floors of the buildings vertical layout.

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Though much smaller in scale, the surface of the building shares a similar composition to the Burroughs Adding Machine Plant. The red brick façade, stringcourses, tower-like entrance, and symmetrical windows echo the modern influence of the 1930s that inspired Khan in Plymouth.

In 2005, extensive site reclamation of The Atrium@MIP began under the watchful eye of Lintack Architects. Immediately, the mechanical and electrical systems were replaced to increase energy efficiency throughout the entire superstructure. Then, interior partitions were removed to adjust to the new layout, providing better accommodation for a multitude of new offices and the addition of three new elevators.

At the same time, advanced energy efficient and cosmetic upgrades were applied to the exterior of the edifice. Modern insulation, state-of-the-art windows, and an R valve roof coupled with two L-shaped aluminum clad canopies flanking the entrance provide a necessarily contemporary component to the sweeping facelift performed.

Leading the way, the Atrium@MIP was a rewarding project that may provide important lessons to further generations of reuse pending on various uninhabited yet promising sites in Hamilton. These idle but auspicious locations represent the spirit of Hamilton, centralized in an ambitious city and the history it carries forward.

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