A 45 story landmark high rise could rise on Hamilton’s waterfront, if the planets align.
Hamilton born, and internationally acclaimed architect Bruce Kuwabara spoke in poetic terms about a signature building proposed for Pier 8 on the West Harbour.
“It would be white, not dark, so that it would be like the clouds,” the architect said during a Zoom meeting with residents of the North End, and staff from the city of Hamilton. Kuwabara, and his firm KPMB are part of a group chosen by the city to develop Pier 8.
The tower would be near the former Marine Discovery Centre, which morphed into Sarcoa restaurant. It would be visible like a beacon from James Street North.
The pitch for a high rise appeared out of the blue, but was hinted at in a settlement between the city and a group of North End residents who challenged the Pier 8 development at the OMB.
The high rise, if built, could make room for more “family friendly” housing in a development proposed to contain 1645 dwelling units, many built as low rise town homes.
Though the tower is more than a sketch on a napkin at this stage, it is still far from etched in stone according to Alissa Mahood, project manager in the city’s planning department.
She told Zoom participants the proposal would need a full public airing, when such meetings are allowed to take place.
Kuwabara who grew up in the North End of Hamilton said the tower would be visible from the High Level Bridge on York Boulevard, and in its form, would speak to John Lyle, architect of the bridge.
“He was once of Canada’s most important architects, and he was from Hamilton. This building would be trying to speak to him.”
At least 75 people drifted in and out of the Zoom meeting, and surprisingly few objected to the idea of a high rise on the waterfront. This format for a meeting however is far from being the best way to decipher public opinion since the technology is awkward at best. Historically Hamiltonians have been ice cold on the notion of towers, especially in older parts of the city.
Many questioned where parking for the residential building would be, and the answer was, underground, which would place it below water level for the harbour. A question was posed about the hazard to birds, since the harbour is a major migration route. Kuwabara said the building would be designed in consultation with bird strike experts.
In concept visuals presented by Kuwabara, the tower was visible from many parts of Hamilton, the Skyway Bridge, and from Burlington.
“I was always in awe of the monumentality of the industrial waterfront, the fire, this white building would symbolize the future.”
Kathy Renwald is a journalist and a resident of the North End