City building done right: a vision for a vibrant new community on a formerly industrial Hamilton pier
The formerly industrial lands on Piers 7 + 8 represent a significant opportunity for the City of Hamilton to reclaim the waterfront and turn it into a vibrant new community. The Pier 7 + 8 Urban Design Study creates an opportunity for a bold and innovative plan which speaks to Hamilton’s vision for what it wants to be – sustainable, welcoming, and incorporating design excellence.
The plan evolved through a series of strong, yet simple, design moves that shaped the community structure and determined the balance of open space, built form, height, and density. These moves prioritize green space and the retention of the waterfront for public use; create a compact road network with walkable blocks; recognize the area’s history through retention of key buildings and landscapes; and prioritize a varied and interesting architectural character that is scaled to its surroundings. Maximizing public spaces while including enough – but not too much – parking was a key challenge, requiring a detailed sectional analysis to resolve above-ground parking while still contributing to a vibrant public realm.
The Pier 7 + 8 Design Study created an important framework for public discourse on city building. Media coverage and public commentary came not only from within Hamilton, but brought Hamilton national, and even international, attention. After the approval of the Design Study, the City, following the process recommended in the document, conducted two public competitions for the design of Promenade Park and the Pier 8 Development. The shortlisted competition entries were subject to long periods of public commentary, and the entries were judged by respected designers and professionals. This approach ensured the highest levels of design excellence.