This building has been derived from three principal sources of inspiration - the urban traditions of Public Space; the architectural programme used to organize and articulate building elements; and the desire to create a modern architecture reflective of the building technology and the social and political aspirations of our place and time.
In contrast to the tendencies of recent speculative development, the new City Hall does not depend on height to identify its status. The building presents its civic inportance in terms of public space. Its forecourt is the Civic Square. This space is enclosed on two sides by the new building, while the other two sides are completed by the walls of existing buildings on Young Street and King Street. In this way the new City Hall asserts its identity as a representation, but also as a part of the city it serves. This outdoor Civic Square passes through the front wall of the building to form an Interior Square which holds the Council Chamber. This space connects to Duke Street and Young Street, allowing minor entrances from the north and east. These two sides of the building have covered colonnades providing protected pedestrian walks. These "filtering" devices assert the accessibility of the government and its continuity with the City.
The City Hall can been seen as either a traditional court-type building or as a collection of discrete parts. The various functions of the building are used to break down the City Hall into a composition of legible and distinct elements, disposed in response to their context. The Secretariat is the main face of the City Hall, and forms the north side of the Civic Square. Its continous loggia of thin concrete walls presents an open, non-hierarchical entrance to the building. The open concrete frame of the Executive Wing, along the west side of Young Street, reinforces the symbolism of an accessible government. The low building fronting Duke Street curves to respond to this arterial road, while its opposite side forms a backdrop to the the Interior Space. The colonnaded sidewalk also makes this building element a secondary entrance to the City Hall from the north. The long building along the east side of College Street forms a solid wall to both the exterior and interior squares and houses the various departments of non-elected employees. The Council Chamber, by its geometry and position, appropriately becomes the focus of the City Hall about which the other "buildings" seem to spiral.
The City Hall is a place in the city which is both architecturally and physically active. The interior circulation system, or promenade, links the separate building elements and lines the two Civic Squares and Duke Street, animating these spaces and acting as an orientational device for users of the buildings. The stair tower pierces the cylinder of the Council Chamber allowing interaction between the public proceedings and the public. Each programmatic element of the new City Hall is addressed from the Interior Civic Square, thereby reintegrating these separate "buildings" at a single symbolic point and creating an atmosphere of urban vitality. The separate building elements are arranged as a "pin-wheel" about the Interior Square and the Council Chamber, culminating in the public stair that rises along the east side of the Department Building. This implied motion is further reinforced by the composition of the facades with various metal, glassblock, brick or stone screens that seem to slide across the fronts of these buildings as though set into motion by the centripetal force of the "promenade".
The city Hall is to be experienced as an architecture in tension. It presents the stretching of various elements of modern architecture but does not become unbound. The final image of this building is one of vital continuity.
(From Competing Visions: The Kitchener City Hall Competition)
9 scanned / 8 viewable
- Photograph of Model