The relationship between architecture and the economy was the focus of a special presentation to the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
The president of the Ontario Association of Architects said architecture can help enhance the local economy through master plan developments, such as the waterfront.
Toon Dreessen said that development shows how older buildings can be incorporated into new developments and "those historic buildings play a role in our cultural fabric."
"When we think of historic neighbourhoods that were demolished — and we see photographs of beautiful old Victorian neighbourhoods that were completely demolished — we see that that's a real loss," he said.
Dreessen said it's becoming more and more common to re-purpose existing buildings, instead of starting every development from scratch.
Some of the discussion during the presentation focused on incorporating existing buildings into new developments, like the waterfront.
Dreessen said it's crucial the city include the baggage building, as well as industry into its waterfront development plans.
"Even things like the grain elevators — they're industrial hulks and they're old and stuff — but they're beautiful and they play a role in our cultural framework. And, integrating them into our landscape, I think, is incredibly important," he said.
He said developing a core area, and creating mixed-use communities is key.
Retail, tourism facilities, places to play, live and work all attract people and "really help drive long-term sustainable development for an area," Dreessen said.