from the Hamilton Spectator
What’s wrong – and right – about the new stadium design
Council learned last month the proposed new $119-million Pan Am stadium doesn’t meet the city’s own urban design guidelines - at least so far. City staff want design-builder Ontario Sports Solutions to block the underside view of the stands from the street and improve the look and utility of a proposed public plaza on Cannon Street. Some councillors have also complained the new stadium doesn’t look much different than the old version.
The Spectator asked four local architects to weigh in on the design and council’s concerns. All four noted the cramped residential location as major constraint to ‘landmark? design. Here’s what they said:
What the designer says: the lower level will be built of masonry to fit in with surrounding homes, while the upper portion will be “light and airy,? with exposed steel girders instead of an enclosed wall that would create a visual barrier in the neighbourhood.
“There are very serious constraints (in terms of location) … (But) basically what the neighbours get is a view of parking and scaffolding holding up the stands,? said David Premi, a King Street East architect who won an award for his redesign of the downtown library and farmers’ market.
“(My) overall impression is that the exterior image is not much different than what we have now – metal siding, concrete block, exposed steel, underside of concrete seats,? said Greg Sather of McCallum Sather Architects, a local firm specializing in sustainable design.
“In terms of the overall design, I’d maybe give it a “C? … It’s not provoking a strong reaction, and I think that’s a great loss.?
“Ideally, the plaza would fit into a grander vision for that part of the city,? said Premi, who has pitched a permanent design review committee to advise council on development proposals.
“I think the design should be reviewed to improve the character and landscape quality for it to truly be a great people place. It is very narrow, has parking encroaching onto it at both corners and seems tight and constrained,? Curran said.
Sather said the preliminary drawings for the plaza look “barren.?
What the designer said: the stadium is built with the close-quarters residential area in mind. An iconic, long-range profile for the structure would “overpower the neighbourhood.?
Premi said the stadium doesn’t have the “sex appeal? of a landmark civic site. “I think it’s surprising how utilitarian it looks,? he said.
“The design-build process doesn’t usually give you the best-looking facilities; it gives you affordable facilities,? said Curran.
Tom agreed with the designer that a grand design would not fit the neighbourhood. “The caveat being I think this is the wrong site,? he said.
“It’s not a signature building by any means,? Sather said.
All four local architects brought up parking. Here’s what they said:
“They need parking; there’s no way around it. But I don’t understand why they didn’t spend an extra $5 million to dig down and create a level of underground parking. Is that a big deal, for building that’s supposed to last you 50 years?? Tom asked.
“There is no way I would ever leave my car there with fans having to walk past and between the parked cars to get to and from the gates,? said Sather, who also questioned the lack of space for a bus queue.
“Perhaps it’s too late, but I wonder if it’s possible to orient the stadium in such a way to have less parking facing existing houses,? Premi said.
“It is unfortunate that maximum surface parking is being sought, ringing the facility on three sides … at the expense of a quality pedestrian environment.
I’d suggest that parking on the site be minimized or eliminated and more landscaped and gathering space be provided,? said Curran.