Architecture

Vote for the Urban Design and Architecture People's Choice Award

By Martin Hering
Published September 21, 2011

This fall, the City of Hamilton will be awarding its 2011 Urban Design and Architecture Awards for the fourth time - and you are invited to vote for one of these awards, the People's Choice Award.

If you want to participate, you need to cast your vote for your favourite urban design project. Please vote soon: voting closes on October 10.

The city created the biennial Urban Design competition in 2005 "to recognize and celebrate excellence in the design of our urban environment". Since the awards' emphasis is on exterior design, the nominees include not only buildings - both new structures and heritage buildings - but also a variety of other works that improve urban design, such as streetscapes, parks, and planning studies.

In past competitions, the jury gave out awards of excellence and merit in many different categories: urban design, architectural design, heritage restoration, community design, adaptive reuse, sustainable design, and a few others.

This year, there are 36 nominees for the Design Awards. All were completed between 2009 and 2011.

A few nominees are big and well known: the Lister Block, City Hall, the Public Library and Farmers' Market, the MacNab Transit Terminal, and CANMET. But there are many other nominees that are less known - or pretty much unknown - and thus worth a closer look.

Have you heard of the "Hamilton Laneway Housing Study"? Are you familiar with the "Gore Master Plan"? Have you walked across the "East Hamilton Waterfront Link"?

This year, the jury who will decide on the Design Awards includes five architects, urban designers, and urban planners: Bruce Cudmore (EDA Collaborative), Jennifer Keesmaat (DIALOG), and Stasia Bogdan (Ministry of Health and Long-term Care), as well as two representatives from the city: Paul Mallard (Director of Planning) and Tim McCabe (General Manager, Planning and Economic Development).

The judges will study presentations and photos of each project and carefully evaluate them, looking at appropriateness, building and landscape design, sustainability, quality, and innovation.

The criterion for the People's Choice Award is simple: which nominee do citizens like best? Use the opportunity to participate in the 2011 Urban Design Awards and choose your favourite project!

Full disclosure: our house - Hambly House - is one of the nominees. I'm not asking you to vote for us, I'm just asking you to get involved and vote for the nominee you like best.

Martin Hering is a political scientist and preservationist who is interested in architecture and Hamilton's heritage buildings.

27 Comments

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 16:48:20

My biggest beef with these things is there is no description, only one picture, and a tiny one at that. It becomes extremely difficult to choose one to vote for if you're not familiar with some of these. It's also generally fairly difficult (not to mention time consuming) to dig up information on these yourself.

I'd like to see the option to have as many as 4-5 thumbnail pictures, that can be enlarged by clicking on them, and a brief description of what it is, and why it's on the list.

It also seems strange that actual tangible buildings are competing against concepts and plans for the city (not a building in particular). Seems like a strange group to throw in together for voting purposes.

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By RB (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 09:06:08 in reply to Comment 69930

My thoughts exactly... why are drawings competing against actual buildings? Am I missing something here?

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By Martin (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 07:46:45 in reply to Comment 69930

The nominees are dissimilar because the Urban Design Awards are meant to recognize many different design works.

The five-member jury decides on the number and names of the award categories only after they have received all nominations.

Since there is only one People's Choice Award, the nominees cannot be divided into different categories.

One could reduce dissimilarity if there were several People's Choice Awards and if either citizens or staff were able to categorize the nominees.

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By Rpbert D (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 16:49:03

P.S. - Martin, you have a lovely house!

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 16:50:00

This is a great list of projects, but more info would be nice. As well, it would be great to have more info on the various studies and plans. I have no idea what that Jackson Square study is. I've heard of the laneway study, but have never seen it.

Also, why are townhouses in here?? Am I missing something?

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By Martin (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 08:04:43 in reply to Comment 69932

Nominations for the Urban Design Awards can be made by anyone for any urban design project.

The jury and the people of Hamilton decide whether or not they should get an award.

This year, Hamilton Economic Development produced a YouTube-video to encourage citizens to nominate design projects. Unfortunately, the video had only about 50 views.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 17:07:57 in reply to Comment 69932

Yeah...it really is unfortunate that they didn't include descriptions or additional images.

The Jackson Square study is actually part of my M.Arch thesis. Essentially, the project suggests a scheme for the reintegration of Jackson Square into the urban fabric of downtown Hamilton through the creation of streets, laneways, and grade level public spaces.

If anyone's interested - you can read the abstract here (http://uwspace.uwaterloo.ca/handle/10012/5788), or even download the whole 200+ page document!

Comment edited by kdslote on 2011-09-21 17:15:16

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 27, 2011 at 16:21:35 in reply to Comment 69935

Kyle; Read the entire thing. Well worth the time. I learned a few things, saw some photos I'd never seen before...

I liked some of your proposals, didn't agree with some of your stances, but am glad I took the time to read it from beginning to end. This is the kind of 're-imagining' effort we need to have going on in Hamilton. Well done!

Thanks!

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 13:06:44 in reply to Comment 69935

great study, and envisioning

reading this over during urban design theory class

Comment edited by mike_sak on 2011-09-22 13:08:31

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 22:43:12 in reply to Comment 69935

Really interesting work, and I like your blog too, although I'll point out the website link doesn't work right at first, although I managed to get to it anyway.

Keep up the good work.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 16:51:15

Martin - I love your home! Great job renovating it. I debated having a look when it was up for sale, but am not a handyman in the slightest. I'm so glad someone bought it and gave it the treatment it deserves.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 22:05:23 in reply to Comment 69933

apparently someone doesn't like that your renovated and restored your home. lol

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By Armchair Architect (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 16:53:01

This is usually pretty lolz. Last time around they gave an award to a power centre.

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By Chad Confetti (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2011 at 22:40:03 in reply to Comment 69934

And this time, it was a suburban business park that shone.

Upcoming Predictions:

2013: Winona Wal-Mart
2015: Pan Am Stadium
2017: Aerotropolis

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By Jeff Tessier (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 21:31:23 in reply to Comment 69934

Yes, it's unfortunate that they discredited the programme with that strange choice. "Heritage Green" won, if I recall. They should certainly win the "Least Truthful Name" award.

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By Martin (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 07:57:39 in reply to Comment 69945

It may seem like a strange choice but it was the "People's Choice" in 2009.

To avoid choices that seem strange, one needs to convince many citizens to vote for the "People's Choice Award". Hopefully, there will be a good turnout in 2011.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2011 at 17:34:35 in reply to Comment 69934

Perhaps we can start a "People's Choice Award" for "worst development". Then we could give awards to power centres too! Perhaps we could even create titles like "ugliest building in Christendom".

The architectural atrocity which used to be Centre Mall would definitely get my vote.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 22:40:06 in reply to Comment 69937

As much as I would like to do that, I think we should keep this positive.

I like the idea of our own People's Choice Award, and we could show the city how to do it right, by actually providing information and pictures on these things.

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By Martin (registered) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 08:12:54 in reply to Comment 69953

The City plans to provide several, high-resolution photos and individual project descriptions in the next round of the Urban Design and Architecture Awards (2013).

Unfortunately, they don't have the capacity to implement this plan in the current round.

I am pretty sure that they would welcome suggestions on how to do it better in 2013. You could write to the contact listed on the City's Urban Design Awards page.

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By Ezaki Glico (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 08:34:18

Question: What is done locally to proactively promote superior design in urban form?

A ask because I see that as the bigger issue here. If we manage 36 borderline credible projects every two years, and the last two years have seen $1.7 billion in building permits, I wonder if we haven't tied the carrot to the horse's tail?

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By Ezaki Glico (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 08:41:54 in reply to Comment 69961

And if anyone is interested...

[URL=http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/F472118F-D7E2-40C0-9455-1BE4757026D1/0/UDAwards07JuryReport.pdf]2007 UDAA Jury Report (PDF)[/URL]

[URL=http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/491EDA47-1D10-488A-A8EC-63BA30883922/0/UDAA09JuryReport.pdf]2009 UDAA Jury Report (PDF)[/URL]

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2011 at 10:01:01 in reply to Comment 69962

Whaddayaknow, 'the ugliest building in Christendom' did win an award. As well as a couple sprawl developments.

Other seem better choices, but I see your point. There isn't a whole lot to choose from.

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By Chad Confetti (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 10:43:53

Multiple perspectives, design statements and community context would be helpful in evaluating merit. What we've got is the architectural equivalent of a MySpace hotness contest.

Also, Hamilton must be the world capital of self-nominated awards.

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By Martin (registered) | Posted October 03, 2011 at 13:22:36

The City of Hamilton just posted project descriptions and many photos of the 36 nominees for the People's Choice Award.

People's Choice Award Project Descriptions Part 1 (PDF, 12 MB)

People's Choice Award Project Descriptions Part 2 (PDF, 13 MB)

There is still time to vote! Voting closes on October 10. Click here

Comment edited by Martin on 2011-10-03 13:22:48

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 11, 2011 at 12:18:53 in reply to Comment 70288

you lost me at PDF

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By Martin (registered) | Posted October 04, 2011 at 04:12:11

Mark McNeil wrote an article on the Urban Design Awards in The Hamilton Spectator.

Dean Tweed and Mark McNeil made a very nice map with the locations of nominees, photos and short project descriptions.

Comment edited by Martin on 2011-10-04 04:16:28

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By Chad Confetti (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2011 at 22:29:16

ANcaster Business Park FTW!

Audcomp Computer Systems won the People's Choice Award: http://g.co/maps/ma5hb

$ $ $

Hamilton’s Winners in Urban Design and Architecture

Awards of Excellence:

The Branthaven Beach House Project: Award of Excellence in Urban Design
http://www.neighborhoodplans.com/projects/BeechHouse-Branthaven-Hamilton.html

The West Avenue Residences (former West Avenue School): Award of Excellence in Adaptive Reuse
CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory: Award of Excellence in Architecture and Sustainability
Urban Sustainability ‘The Edible Landscape’ (garden at City Hall where produce goes to FoodShare Hamilton): Award of Excellence in Landscape Architecture
The Lister Block: Award for Outstanding Achievement and Excellence in Restoration

Awards of Merit:

The Bridgewater Court: Award of Merit for Urban Design
The Good Shepherd Women’s Services Centre: Award of Merit for Urban Design
C Hotel by Carmen’s: Award of Merit for Architecture
St. Matthew Catholic Elementary School: Award of Merit for Architecture and Sustainability
Mohawk College’s ‘The Learning Exchange’: Award of Merit for Architecture and Sustainability
St. Thomas Lofts: Award of Merit in Adaptive Reuse
Hamilton City Hall: Award of Merit in Restoration
McNab Transit Terminals: Award of Merit in Healthy Communities

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