Our design represents a vision of a city hall that will play an increasingly important role in the public life of Kitchener. It is hoped that the event of the building will create a forum for public involvement in the municipal decision-making process and an increased awareness of architectural quality. On a day-to-day basis, the city hall will provide a convivial working environment for the pro-vision and administration of essential public services, providing citizens and visitors greater accessibility to governmental process, resources, a diversity of functions and events, and the continued development of responsibility and excellence in all aspects of public life.
Through this transformation, certain values remain constant. The building embodies stability while projecting dynamism and vitality as an integral part of the revitalization of the downtown core. The legibility of the facade, the richness of materials, and the quality of detailing are vital components in the perception of the proposed architecture as a participant in the formation of a significant public place in the city.
The design expresses the importance of location, topography and context in clear architectural terms. City Hall and Civic Square are contained within the harbouring arms of a large U-shaped wall building which is open to the south to King Street. This stone clad perimeter wall, which is two storeys at Duke Street and elevated to three storeys at King Street, clearly defines the edges of the site, expresses the change of elevation from King Street to Duke Street and signifies the presence of the new civic centre within the existing urban fabric.
Within the symmetrical placement of the enclosing civic walls, the city hall building is composed of three principal volumes: Council Chamber, Civic Rotunda and Administrative Offices. The Council Chamber, a metal-clad volume with a curved roofline, and the Administrative Offices, which have been articulated as tower, wall and slab, create an architectural ensemble of balanced asymmetry flanking the centrally placed Rotunda. The massing is carefully controlled to establish frontality to the Civic Square and King Street as well as to initiate a dynamic composition involving an upward spiralling movement to the spire of the pivotal Civic Tower.
The primary level of public access and activity is established at the level of King Street. The Civic Square, Interior Square and Civic Rotunda are all highly accessible on the ground floor of the scheme. A large Committee Room, parts of the Clerk's Department requiring a high degree of public accessibility, and the public information desk are located around the edges of the Interior Square.
At the Duke Street level, the second floor is developed as a piano nobile overlooking the Interior Square and Civic Square. On this piano nobile accomodation is provided for the Council Chamber, the offices of the Mayor, members of Council, the Council Lounge, Committee Meeting Rooms, Day Care Centre and Administrative Meeting Rooms. This floor provides strong interior connections between Council, departmental staff and the public, consolidating the building around the Rotunda.
The Civic Square is accessible at its four corners, inviting spontaneous entry to the space and giving several choices to move across the site. A public pedestrian route, created through the building as an extension of Gaukel Street, is conceptualized as a landscaped, "green" public route providing access to Victoria Park. Building and grounds are made highly accessible and penetrable beyond normal business hours. Access to the below-grade parking garage is from both College and Young Streets. A protected drop-off area is provided on Young Street.
Civic Square and Civic Rotunda
If the Civic Square is the pre-eminent place of outdoor public assembly in Kitchener, then the Civic Rotunda offers a powerful space of assembly at the centre of the Interior Square. The cylindrical space is intended to be used as a venue for a wide range of everyday and organised civic and corporate events. The room is clad in stone, with a roof expressed a a directional, light steel structure surrounded by continuous celestory natural lighting.
A high degree of transparency is created between the interior Civic Rotunda and the exterior Civic Square through the development of a double-height space at the Lobby. The deep view is focussed on a sand-blasted glass screen held in a patinated copper frame at the north end of the Rotunda.
The Civic Tower, which has substantial representational value in the symbolic image of the scheme, has been developed to accomodate a public shuttle elevator and stair at its base. The top of the tower is composed of a cube which is to be illuminated at night, serving as a weather beacon. The gracefully curving roof line of the office building and the tall spire combine with the cubic beacon to create a striking, identifiable skyline image intended to be visible from great distances, particularly along the west-ward approach on King Street and from Victoria Park.
The commanding forms of the scheme are articulated to work at both large and small scales. The scheme creates great breadth and height, proportioned to work within, and stand apart from, the existing urban fabric. Civic precedents — agora, acropolis, public square, civic hall — are evoked, yet the design is very much an expression of our time and the best of advanced building technologies. In this sense, it is both old and new, referenced to classical and modern architecture, appropriately monumental and informal.
Principal elements of the architectonic assemblage are differentiated through the use of materials and colour. The Civic Walls are proposed to be clad in a reddish sandstone. The space below the elevated walls is proposed to be rendered as a base using sandblasted and clear glass. The Civic Rotunda is clad in the same sandstone as the Civic Walls. The Council Chamber and the wall component of the Administrative Offices are clad in pre-finished metal panels. The office slab component is clad in curtain wall with a high proportion of glass, while the Civic Tower is clad in pre-finished aluminum and glass. Patinated copper is used on significant elements including the balustrade of the entrance portico, the vertical mullion blades of the piano nobile level of the Civic Walls, the thin recessed proportioning lines of the Civic Tower and for the frame of the free-standing screen in the Civic Rotunda. The diagonal wall at the base of the Administrative Office building, on the Gaukel Street alignment, is proposed to be honed green granite.
(From Competing Visions: The Kitchener City Hall Competition)
'The winning design had many qualities both as a building and in the contribution it will make to its urban context. Its distinctive tower will become the city's landmark. Presenting the City Hall on the skyline and establishing a strong visual relationship with Victoria Park along Gaukel Street. As a whole, the building is sensitive in scale to its surroundings but does not depend on them to create the enclosure of the Civic Square. Public orientation and movement are clear, both inside and outside, and the distribution of interior spaces is good. The extent and treatment of landscape was appreciated and the objective of giving quality to the north entry is well met.
Despite these manifold qualities the Jury felt that the modifications that the architect had made, during the second stage of the competition, to the second floor level between the rotunda and the administrative tower were not completely satisfactory, and that the position of the skating rink should be reconsidered to facilitate access from King Street to the Civic Square and the main entrance.
The jury is confident that the winning design will make a significant contribution to the City of Kitchener.'
(From Competing Visions: The Kitchener City Hall Competition)
14 scanned / 11 viewable
- Photograph of Model
- Site Plan
- Axonometric Drawing
- Conceptual Sketch