What is bringing 1,000 architects to Hamilton this week?

Professional architects from all over the province are descending on Hamilton this week for a week of tours and professional development. Here's why they chose Hamilton.

They want to explore our mix of old buildings, new buildings and neighbourhoods-in-renewal

The new McMaster health campus will be a highlight of the many tours available to hundreds of architects visiting the city this week. (CBC)

Professional architects from all over the province are descending on Hamilton this week for a week of tours and professional development. It's the annual convention of the Ontario Association of Architects, and the first time the group has come to Hamilton. They are set to explore Hamilton's architectural history, but also some new project and some of the urban renewal efforts changing some of the city's neighbourhoods.

"Hamilton really stands out as a way to shine in terms of urban renewal," said OAA president, Ottawa-based architect Toon Dreessen. "There are so many fantastic examples of how architecture can play a significant role in urban renewal, by mixing this great blend of new and old buildings, and such a strong local network of architects and architecture fans who want to preserve parts of their history."

Here's what has brought them here:

Old structures

They are taking some time to view some of Hamilton's historic architecture of note, including:

  • City Hall, not always a favourite locally but important in architectural circles as an example of the mid-century International Style, this one designed by local architect Stanley Roscoe. 
Hundreds of architects coming to the city this week will be exploring the renewal and restoration efforts along James Street N. (CBC)
  • Auchmar  House- The former estate of prominent Hamilton citizen Isaac Buchanan, now vacant and seeking a viable use, is an attraction because it is a rare example of "an intact picturesque country estate."

  • Gage Park fountain, High Level Bridge: Are both prominent public landmarks given the city by John Lyle, a Belfast-born architect.

New Structures

The architects are getting a glimpse at the some of the newer building that is happening and has happened in recent years.

McMaster downtown Health Campus: Their tours will be the first public look at McMaster's new downtown health campus, currently under construction at the corner of Main and Bay Streets. The $85 million project is a seven storey building, with a design inspired by Hamilton's geography, in particular the escarpment and will bring new vibrancy to that part of the downtown.

Tim Horton's Field: They'll take tours to Hamilton's new, but not quite finished Pan Am and Ticats stadium.  Here the attractions are the architectural and engineering design challenges.

McMaster Campus: They'll have a walking tour of the university campus where they'll look at many of the new buildings that have been built there in the past decade.

Transformed Industrial Structures

Hamilton's industrial heritage is being preserved in many different ways and some of the ways the local hosts will be showing off to their guests are:

  • The Museum of Steam and Technology: Hamilton's original its original water works pump house, which dates from 1859.
  • The  McMaster Innovation Park: Built around an old appliance factory, it has become the centre of high tech business incubation.
  • 270 Sherman North: A turn of the century (1900) textile mill, one of the last surviving, is now an arts incubator. 

Works in progress

  • Waterfront: They will have a look at the dramatic progress over the past 20 years, with the trails and parks that are now part of the fabric of the city's life. But with major new projects being envisioned for Pier 8 and development pressure pushing back into the neighbourhood, the waterfront is still a work in progress​​.
  • James North: The attraction here is an exploration of "renewal restoration and adaptive re-use" in the centre of the growing arts scene and how that has affected the evolution of the street.