Office of Sustainable Development

By Jason Leach
Published January 10, 2007

Look what I just came across: an Office of Sustainable Development in - big surprise - Portland, Oregon. Hamilton could use an office of sustainable development at City Hall.

Also, check out this Portland infill thread on the Skyscraper page. What can we do to get Hamilton's developers and architects to start designing high quality infill projects like this?

Headwaters at Tryon Creek (Photo Credit: Skyscraper Page)
Headwaters at Tryon Creek (Photo Credit: Skyscraper Page)

Most of these would be considered 'landmark' in Hamilton, yet are the norm in Portland. Is it as simple as having an architectural review board?

It seems to me that most of these projects in Portland arrive at City Hall already looking spiffy and full of LEED principles. They aren't being sent back to the drawing board by City Hall. The architects and developers actually seem to pride themselves on their work.

Maybe it's just a money thing...

Who knows, but Hamilton's new buildings are quite drab. Some LEED ones are happening now (HHS General Hospital, Woodward Ave lab, Student Residence on Main West), so hopefully they'll raise the bar and encourage more of the same.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted January 10, 2007 at 15:13:47

Here's what my pal Anthony had to say in an email he sent me after I'd raised once again the spectre of The Tivoli, when the 'proposed designs' for the front of the theatre were referenced here once again. This is what he said:

"I saw all four of these when RTH first published them.

They're all gross.

(If these came from high school students, I'd fail 'em.)

With the auditorium presumably intact, building a replacement front-of-house is a no brainer, programming-wise. When it comes to the exterior elevations and how it interacts with the street, forget about constructing another 'building' in front as existed before (although, obviously, the original was quite lovely). The downtown certainly doesn't need more rental space (hello, Lister Block?)

Keep the open space, the square, in front (the homeless will thank us later) Have the front entrance set back from the street, as in a couple of the schemes. But I think there's a real opportunity in creating that new entrance, something that could be a real gem in the right hands. And I'm not talking about anything even remotely pseudo-classical. Nothing will replace the original, so why even bother.

I've come across soooo many examples of small, infill-type projects in the last few years. There's architectural firms who've built reputations on them - just the right building for just the right space in just the right neighbourhood that needed it. And this is the perfect design challenge.

Makes me want to run around Toronto snapping photos of small, understated entrances that work. Or new construction that acts as a gateway to something existing in a historical context."

I won't add anything else right now...other than to say that I haven't been able to access the Skyscraper page all day...

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2007 at 22:25:50

You and Anthony are so right. By all means, take pics and send them to us to publish. It gets kind of embarrassing always referring to Portland....yes there is some crime and homelessness there - in fact, from what I read homlessness seems to be on the rise. It's not a perfect city, but can certainly seem like it when you see the neighbourhoods and balanced transportation system.

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By jacksb (registered) | Posted January 15, 2007 at 16:49:56

This is an idea whose time should come. I actually proposed a Sustainability Commissioner back when Wade was Mayor. Ideally it should be someone at the highest level and who has influence over all City departments. Think of the savings that could come from taking a sustainability approach to all aspects of City operations - building permits and regulation, transportation, planning and economic development,food security, health, energy systems. Such a position would put Hamilton on the international map and be a genuine indicator that Hamilton is much more than the negative image that lingers outside our borders. Real progress on Vision 2020 so we no longer have to be embarassed by the annual indicators report - oopps, guess that hasnt happened since Linda Harvey left over a year ago. This is definitely an idea worth pursuing.

Cheers Jack Santa Barbara

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