Posts tagged ‘Urban Plaza’

UW Architecture Students Vision a New Downtown Galt

A redesigned Old Galt Post Office/Fiddlers Green could showcase an open-air terrace and a cascading waterfall running into the Grand River.

A redesigned Old Galt Post Office/Fiddler's Green could showcase an open-air terrace and a cascading waterfall running into the Grand River.

A group of architecture students had to look no further than their school’s front door to find ideas for urban revitalization and design. The goal was to take a holistic approach that would revitalize a mid-sized city. Their laboratory became downtown Galt and to get the ball rolling the students sat down with members of Cambridge council in a brainstorming workshop.

One of the better concepts was to take the old Galt Post Office (formerly Fiddler’s Green) on Water Street South and breath new life into it. Students Elmutaz Elrabaa, Peter Graham and Christy Hempel decided that an addition at the rear of the building should be scrapped in favour of open-air terraces that step down to the river’s edge. Incorporated into those terraces is a cascading waterfall.

Another cheap fix is an experiment the students undertook themselves. They purchased a number of pink plastic Muskoka chairs and placed them on the concrete landing at the river’s edge beneath the Main Street bridge.

Re-developing the riverbank also pops up in two other student proposals. One would introduce a flood resistant boardwalk, planters and benches along the floodwalls, while another would reintroduce the former streetcar bridge across the river behind Barnacle Bill’s Restaurant to connect the proposed Drayton Theatre site with Water Street. A third idea would create a cantilevered walkway extending the Living Levee walkway from the former Galt Library building to the Main Street bridge.

The students have also suggested some changes on Main Street. The first would lighten and brighten the alley connecting the Dickson Street parking lot to Main Street by suspending Christmas trees from wires over the walkway. Further up at Ainslie Street, students have larger, but no less simple plans.

At the former Shoppers Drug Mart building, students would tear away the steel cladding that has hidden the upper portion of the building for years to reveal its original art deco design. Meanwhile, Lederer said Scotia Bank would have its “tired ‘70s look” updated by adding a green wall to the corner pillar.

The vision could soon lead to an extended partnership between Cambridge and the University of Waterloo.

The university’s expertise is also being called to review a series of new city master plans for economic development, arts and culture, heritage, and parks and recreation created over the last year.

Many of the plans make similar recommendations and now the city, with help from the university, may look at ways to combine some of the proposals for implementation over the next fewyears.

Congratulations from one urban designer to future architecture professionals!



October 5, 2009 at 9:53 am 3 comments

Kitchener Civic District Update

Previous Posts on this Topic:

Waterloo’s New Urban Square

A new public square in uptown Waterloo may be bustling with community events almost every weekend this summer. During the week, the square will be a place where people stop for lunch, meet friends, or sip coffee on their breaks. The new square at Waterloo Town Square should be finished mid-May, and it will be officially opened on May 30.

Waterloo Square

The $2.8-million project, on King Street at Willis Way running north to the railroad tracks, will feature six honey locust trees about 15 feet high, surrounded by tall grasses, shrubs, and perennials such as hostas and day lilies. A concrete staircase leads to the front entrance of The Shops at Waterloo Town Square, with steps in an upper terrace for seating. The main area will hold bistro-like tables and chairs, as well as benches. The square will also feature a large abstract bell created by sculptor Royden Rabinowitch. He will be in Waterloo on June 5 to officially unveil the bell.

(Click to enlarge)

Betty Ann Keller, manager of cultural development for the city, said a budget hasn’t been set up for programming at the square. Money will be used from existing recreational budgets. “Our goal in 2009 is to make it work,” she said. This summer, a concert series will be held in the uptown square from late June to August, featuring folk, rock and jazz. Other events include lunch-hour guitar lessons and ballroom dancing lessons in the evening. Summer weekends will include Opera Kitchener’s Cinderella, some of the acts of the Waterloo Jazz Festival and Uptown Country.

The city still hopes to raise $800,000 – $300,000 for the rink and $500,000 for the water wall – from the community and private sector businesses to help complete the wall and rink.


Now playing: Dead Meadow – Either Way
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May 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Preliminary Mass Model

Much like my counterpart, I was given the task to create a project that would help further my undergraduate project last semester. So, I chose to develop a massing model for Wellington Road and Bradely Avenue in London. (Click image to enlarge.)

Preliminary Mass Model

This massing model represents the current building heights, dimensions and site locations. The purpose of this “preliminary” model is to help aide in the construction of future intensification models that will be completed in part with my Capstone project, The Revitalization of Wellington Street Corridor. The focus of this model is at the intersection of Bradley Avenue and Wellington Street. This area will be further developed and analyzed in the Capstone project. This will help to show prospective investors and developers the advantage of intensification within an urban setting.

St. Stephens Park , Westervelt College, and White Oaks Mall will be redesigned for a stronger pedestrian connection. Currently, St. Stephens park is not connected to Wellington Street as there is a ditch that seperates it from the road. White Oaks has a large chunk of land availlable at the intersection to implement new infill projects and the design of an urban square. Several options will be developed to show people that there are many potential designs for this intersection.
Now playing: Nyle – Friendly Fire
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May 14, 2009 at 4:25 pm 1 comment

The Civic District Master Plan – Kitchener

The district, which is roughly bordered by Weber, Queen, Ellen and Frederick Streets is home to four of the city’s most important cultural institutions. But the spaces between those buildings, with the exception of a small park featuring a memorial to firefighters, are filled with parked cars during the day and empty stretches of asphalt over night. It could one day be part of a bustling urban space with cafes, benches, pedestrian walkways, parks, squares, an amphitheater – a district for the arts.

Local cultural institutions want to see this area transformed into a district showcasing public art exhibitions, theatre and music. There’s room for a university campus, walkways connecting the library to the Centre in the Square and lush landscaping.

If the Civic District Master Plan ever gets implemented it will bring more residents downtown and help lure creative class workers to the area with a cutting edge arts district.

Late next summer, construction will begin on a 400-space underground parking garage. It will be located behind the main library. Some of the surface parking will disappear and a public square will be built. Shortly after that, work begins on a 25,000-square-foot addition to the main library and a complete renovation of the existing building.

Now playing: The Radio Faces – I’m So Lucky
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May 14, 2009 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

North London Community Recreation Centre & Library

After many years of being underserviced in the recreation department, the YMCA, London Public Library and The City of London, have partnered to bring North London a Community center. The building was designed by Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners in Association with Cornerstone Architecture. It will be a two story contemporary style building on a site just East of the Adelaide and Sunningdale intersection.

Plans call for;

  • 8,000 Sqf Library
  • 12,000 Sqf Fitness Center
  • Aquatics Center with six-lane 25metre pool + a leisure pool with adjustable floor and splash features.
  • Double Gymnasium
  • Five  multi-purpose rooms
  • Child mind room
  • Future trail system for pedestrians and cyclists

Not only will this facility be a first in North end of the city, it is also planned to be the first Sustainable (with possible LEED certification)Community Center in London. Some of the sustainable design features are

  • Protection of Open Space
  • Energy Efficient Design
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Green Roof
  • Water Conservation
  • Natural Light
  • Use of Local Materials

A few interesting details to note;

The library will occupy the southern most  portion of the building adjacent to Sunningdale Rd E. , it will feature large spans of glass to allow for passive light. The green roof will be over the library.

The Aquatics Center will occupy the space just north of the library on the east side of the building. This space is also planned to have as much natural light as possible, accomplished by large spans of glass on the East wall (facing the proposed SWM pond)

The Grand Lobby and welcome center seems to be a pretty interesting space that connects the library, the YMCA and the Aquatics Center. It is a two storey space with lots of natural light and windows looking into the Aquatics Center, the YMCA work out gym(on the second floor) and the library. The plans also show table seating as well as comfy lounge type seating in this space. 

The YMCA portion of the building will be separated onto two floors the first floor having double gym and multi-purpose rooms. The second floor is to have one of the most unique features of any gym in London, the “serrated” windows on the second floor of the west side seen in the plan are position so that those working out have a nice view of the Downtown (thanks to the location being in North London, which on this site in particular, is fairly higher in elevation than the downtown). There will also be a track which circles the double gym on the lower floor (see plans for details)

My Point of view – From and Urban Design Perspective

Personally I really like contemporary architecture so this building in my eyes is great, and the added fact that I might be a candidate for LEEDscertification make it all the better!I have to give props to the City for finally jumping on the Sustainable building band wagon-FINALLY!   However I do have to point out a few things that should have been addressed.. In times where city hall is pushing developers to create better a public realm with built form oriented to the street, this building has done a poor job! One thing the parking lot will still be a very dominant feature on the streetscape- on the plan it shows that it will actually be larger in width than the building itself! – 2nd the main entrance is focused on the parking lot! what’s up with that!? I don’t think people would decide not to go to the center if the door would have been 40 more steps from their cars- What about those who walk? bike or take the bus? Sure the design demonstrates what they call and “Active Forecourt” but how active will this space really be? seeing as there’s no focal point and it doesn’t lead anywhere- It would have been really nice to see the front doors right on Sunningdale. Then again creating this “Active Forecourt” or urban plaza is also a first for a city Community Center it could have been worse- there could have been no sidewalk connection with a just grass, a berm or even worse the PARKING LOT!

Now on to the MANY Images! 🙂 🙂 🙂




February 14, 2009 at 12:08 am 4 comments

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