Tag Archives: Waterdown

Architectural Spotlight: The Waterdown Library and Flamborough Seniors Recreation Centre

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RDH Architects
163 Dundas St E, Waterdown
Completed: January 2016

Designed by RDH Architects the 23,500 square foot building is more than just a library. It also houses the city’s municipal service centre, a senior centre, Flamborough information and city services, and the Flamborough archives.

The 15,000 square foot library has better accessibility, more computers, outdoor reading areas, and even dedicated quiet spaces, to name a few of the upgrades. A huge step-up from the town’s last library, which occupied the old East Flamborough Town Hall and had limited space to meet the current standards of today’s libraries. It was too small, hidden, and dated for a town with an ever-expanding population.

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Topography played a pivotal roll in the design and programming of the new building. Situated on a sloping site, the building splits levels while managing to stay a single storey, in keeping with the character of the community it surrounds. The grade is used to create identifiable spaces through a sloping corridor, acting as the buildings axis. The spaces are also organized through levels, creating an easier navigation of site and accessibility for all ages.

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Inside the library, the children’s section includes unique furniture, and a playful asymmetrical skylight. Surrounded by glass exterior walls, it provides transparency for parents and an engaging environment for the children.

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Stairs and ramps lead you through the tiers of categorized book stacks. Skylights bounce off the punched ceilings, pouring natural light throughout the interior. And quiet studies encased in glass offer solitude from the surroundings, while still keeping the user connected to the space through visibility.

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At the top tier of the library the glass glazing overlooks Dundas Street, scattering southern light amongst casual seating, a communal table, and computer desks. The use of natural and artificial light is impressionable.

The material palette inside the library is simple: wood (some of it repurposed), polished concrete floors, gypsum board, steel, and glass. Rich but subdued, a recipe for a warm and welcoming interior.

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Outside, the glass curtain walls on the north and south sides of the building interact well with the street and the neighbourhood it surrounds. The use of the sites grade and the division of space is apparent at the south end of the building. You can see the levels split, divided by a grassy knoll and stairs with a glass balustrade. Limestone panels clad the west side of the building, meeting the southern façade with a geometrical cantilever, creating a significant punch to the overall composition.

At first glance the location seems wrong. It’s located on Dundas Street, the town’s busiest arterial road, close to big box stores and highways. But that’s exactly the point. Waterdown is sprawling and relocating it to another downtown side street doesn’t make sense. Parking is scarce and accessibility becomes an issue. The site it resides on engages onlookers with its presence and the northern entrance is also connected to the approximate neighbourhoods through the use sidewalks and bicycle parking racks. It’s a new hub for a town with ever-expanding subdivisions. Modern orthodox planning reigns supreme.

The new Waterdown Public Library and Flamborough Seniors Recreation Centre has already won a Canadian Architect National Award of Excellence and it’s easy to see why. This project is one of the best pieces of architecture the city of Hamilton has seen in years.

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Architectural Spotlight: Harry Howell (North Wentworth) Twin-Pad Arena

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From an aged barn-like structure to a LEED certified facility, North Wentworth Arena has seen quite the transformation.

The 18-million dollar twin-pad arena designed by dp.Ai Architects, in partnership with RDH Architects, was completed in 2012. In October 2014, it received a new name: The Harry Howell Arena. Named after legendary hockey player and award-winning broadcaster from Hamilton, Harry Howell.

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Tucked back amongst the countryside to the northwest of Clappison’s Corners, it sits imposingly as a stylish modern sports facility. The inverted pitched roof, corrugated cladding, black concrete blocks, and glass band entrance stir an instinctive competitive spirit as you approach.

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The interior is the opposite of imposing. It’s warm, functional, and sleek, with many contemporary touches. The first floor is outfitted with modular sofas, plastic covered backless benches for viewing, even coloured tubular garbage cans. There’s also a small boardroom at the southeast corner, surrounded by windows and exposed structural columns.

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The second floor is accessible via elevator or a frameless glass-railing staircase. Banners with murals from local artist Andrés Correa line the second floor windows and wall as you ascend the stairs. More modular sofas and benches inhabit the space, as well as a small kitchenette for events, and a larger boardroom to the southeast. The views of the rink are through floor-to-ceiling frameless glass, offering the spectator a warm unobstructed view from above.

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Throughout the building, the columns and walls have informative plaques highlighting the environmental and sustainable features, which awarded this building LEED Silver status.

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Inside the rink space, the pre-engineered steel framing is exposed with a non-traditional rigid frame. The H-beams line the ceiling and wall of the rinks, angling and dropping against the load bearing metal sheets like the legs of an arachnid.

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Spectators have clear views from orange polyurethane benches on the second floor, above the dasher boards wrapped in protective netting. The main floor of the rinks is for coaches, players, and staff only, but the outside viewing area is right against the boards. Both rinks are well lit with an efficient use of natural lighting via bands of frosted glass windows that line the exterior walls.

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The twin-pad arena was part of a master plan that included the relocation of two soccer fields, accommodation of a proposed highway interchange, and preservation of the existing arena. It also includes an expanded parking lot with charging stations for electric cars.

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Blast from the Past: January

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Great Falls (also known as Grindstone Falls) is located on the Grindstone Creek just off Mill Street, in Waterdown.

Until 1912, Grindstone Creek was used as a source of power for a sawmill at the base of Great Falls. The waterfall flows year round and a viewing platform has since been built, as well as a parking lot for visitors.

According to the City of Waterfalls website, Great Falls is one of the several Hamilton area waterfalls to be featured regularly in postcards.

Great Falls is also accessible via the Bruce Trail.

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