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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since the Art Gallery of Hamilton is opening soon I figured I should start a new thread. Here's some news about the gallery

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Darlings, guess who’s coming for dinner next month at the Art Gallery of Hamilton?

Celebrities - Martin Short, Wendy Crewson, Eugene Levy, Lisa Langlois, Kathleen Roberston and Victoria Snow; screenwriter Harris Goldberg and director Jack Blum; artist Alex Colville and video arties Floria Sigismondi; author Sylvia Fraser; popular NHL star Dave Andreychuk; and muscians Ian Thomas and Jackie Washington.

The Hamilton connection, all-star lineup has something for everyone for the grand opening of the gallery's $20-million makeover on May 26.

The white-tie event of the year, with 600 guests, has been sold out for months and months, says Larissa Ciupka, gallery marketing and communications director.

It will take three days to tent the Irving Zuckers Sculpture Garden - a one-time-only event. Afterwards. the garden will be landscaped and sculptures installed.

The red-carpet, televised gala will feature valet parking and three champagne receptions.

Celebrities and premier table hosts will sip theirs at the Sheraton Hamilton Hotel.

Guests will dine on foie gras, scallops and beef tenderloin, and listen to performances by Opera Hamilton and Niagara's Best Smooth Jazz Orchestra.

Dancing follows to a live orchestra.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·


That's the Art Gallery and if you notice there's two cars going in different directions on King Street.

I think next year or 2007 the City will change King Street West from one way street to two way street from James Street to Queen Street. With bigger sidewalks and street side parking.
 

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Materials look very cheap-o but good for Hamilton to behold!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
AGH
The art design
By Doug Foley
The Hamilton Spectator



Premier Canadian architect Bruce Kuwabara has always wanted to do a major project in his hometown of Hamilton.

When the $18-million reconstruction of the Art Gallery of Hamiltonopens Saturday, he can scratch that wish off his list.

Now Kuwabara's dream is that the reborn AGH will be the catalyst for further revitalization of downtown, an area he remembered well as a kid growing up in the city in the '50s and '60s.

"I always said that somewhere down the line I would get a chance to do something in Hamilton, and when I do it would be strong and good," Kuwabara told The Hamilton Spectator. "And it would be good for the city, not just a private house up on the hill, but something public.

"When we got the art gallery, I thought this is really fate in a way because this is exactly that kind of project I wanted, in the heart of the city."

Kuwabara, and the city, have every reason to be proud of the new-look Art Gallery of Hamilton that has been almost completely rebuilt and refurbished, top to bottom, inside and out.

Clad in corrugated gold panels with black, charcoal and silver accents and with the aluminum letters AGH seeming to float out over King Street West from the roof, the gallery has become a sparkling gem in the heart of a city in need of something new and vital.

The interior of the gallery has been expanded by squaring off once-sloping end walls and raising the ceilings. Wood flooring, new colours, state-of-the-art lighting, and the use of more natural light in the display areas have helped complete the new look.

Kuwabara said the AGH is only the beginning of changing downtown.

"I see the building as a catalyst for improvements in the streetscape, with City Hall being retained, renovated and possibly added on to to make a bigger civic centre complex," he said. "The gallery's value is not just about making a place for art, but for understanding how a single project can help change the nature of an entire city."

Hamilton has never been far from Kuwabara's thoughts, even as his reputation as an architect continues to spread across international borders.

At the recent opening of the new Canadian Embassy in Berlin, designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, the firm he helped found in 1987, he took the opportunity to tell Governor General Adrienne Clarkson all about the new AGH.

"I told her how proud I was, having worked on it. I do really care about Hamilton. It's always in my mind because I grew up there. My mother still lives there, my sister, I have relatives there."

Growing up in the city's North End, Kuwabara attended Bennetto Public School, Central High School and Hamilton Collegiate Institute before studying architecture at the University of Toronto.

As a teenager in the mid-'60s, he enjoyed a reputation as one of the coolest guys downtown. He was one of the sharpest dressers, in cashmere sweaters, cuffed pants, golf jacket, button-down Oxford shirts and loafers (socks and pennies optional). It was "the" look in some Hamilton teen circles the mid-'60s and few put it together better than Bruce Kuwabara.

And while he may be hesitant to discuss it these days, he also enjoyed a strong -- and well-deserved -- reputation at the Golden Cue Billiard Hall above the old Diamond Jim's as one of the best pool players in the city.

That deft touch around a green-felt table has given way to a much defter touch as one of Canada's top architects.

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg is one of Canada's leading design firms, with major awards for projects around the world.

In 1999, KPMB won a competition sponsored by Dofasco and Laidlaw Inc. that called for proposals to use steel to enclose the concrete and brick Art Gallery of Hamilton as part of a major renovation project.

The restoration was made necessary by the deterioration of the King Street West building. It had been erected in 1976 and was plagued with leaks and condensation problems that threatened the AGH's prestigious collections.

Once the exterior project was approved, the AGH board of directors went further and backed a complete overhaul of the interior.

The final results of the AGH's reconstruction will be officially unveiled to the public Saturday.

"For the people who know the building, the change is huge and for others it will be very exciting," Kuwabara said. "I am really looking forward to the opening. I think it's really important for the city."

Of all the colours available for the steel panels, Kuwabara said he found the gold the most interesting.

He had seen gold used in two major projects in Berlin and liked the way "sunlight danced around the surface." And the steel panels will change in tone and colour depending on how the sun and other light strikes them.

Another factor may have helped sway his final choice of colour.

"Gold was the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' colour. There was a whole range of possible associations and meanings that were of interest to me. Black and gold kept coming through."

Kuwabara's design touch will be seen and felt equally as strong inside the gallery.

Major features are a two-storey glass atrium on the south side of the building that faces Hamilton City Hall, and a large glass pavilion that opens to a garden area on Commonwealth Square on Main Street West.

"We asked how could you have a building fronting on King Street but open to the south to City Hall?" Kuwabara said. "With that large window in the atrium you see City Hall, and in the background the escarpment and the sky. There is that sense of connection.

"What we have done is create a much larger loop of movement around and through the area. We wanted everything to connect."

A new main entranceway has also been constructed on King Street West to solve the long-standing criticism that it was difficult to find the gallery because one door was located almost underground on Summers Lane and the other on the seldom-used second-storey plaza.

The new front door opens to a two- storey, glass-enclosed entranceway with whitish-grey granite stairs that lead to the main floor coffee shop, gift shop and reception area.

The new entrance also allows pedestrians on King Street West to see into the building, as do new windows installed around the structure. At night with the lights on, the gallery will glow.

"The gallery will be much more open and inviting and engaged with the other aspects of urban life," Kuwabara said. "There has been a whole change of mentality of what galleries should be.

"They are now about much more than just the art. They are about art and social interaction, interaction with the city itself."
 

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May 26, 2005. 06:29 AM
Art gallery revamp rights 1970s blight
CHRISTOPHER HUME

HAMILTON—You don't have to love art to love the new Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Not only is it the best architectural news to have happened in this city in some time, it offers hope to all those communities across Ontario — and North America, for that matter — that bought into the bogus promise of contemporary planning. What it says is simple yet terribly important; namely that even the dreariest examples of postwar modernist architecture can be transformed through the power of design.
Thanks to architect Bruce Kuwabara and his KPMB colleagues, an unpleasant and placeless Brutalist box has been remade as a genuinely attractive cultural institution and, more importantly, a civic feature.
The original 1973 building dates from a time when North Americans were busy implementing a vision of a kind of drive-through city gridded with highways and lined with clusters of enormous concrete buildings. Hamilton went so far as to create a system that would elevate pedestrians a whole level above the street, which could then be left free for cars.
"They were being progressive and modern," Kuwabara notes. "But history has proved that modern planning was wrong in many ways."
The Hamilton art gallery was one of a number of facilities built downtown — including Hamilton Place, Jackson Square and the Sheraton Hotel — on King St. The results were so anonymous many people, even Hamiltonians, never knew exactly where the gallery was.
When Kuwabara got involved in the project in 1998, the task was simply to put new cladding on the concrete exterior. But gallery director Louise Dompierre, unwilling to settle for mere cosmetic changes, insisted the gallery go all the way.
"I've spent the past six years raising money," Dompierre says. "But this is more than a renovation, it's a new gallery."
Indeed. It's also a hint of what downtown Hamilton might become. The old gallery's monolithic grey walls have been carved in half, glass and gold panelling added. Inside, a sense of dislocation and dead-endedness has been replaced by light, openness and connectivity.
Though the budget was a relatively paltry $18 million, the architects took maximum advantage of every opportunity. They also used the project as a way to make some important points about what could be done with the downtown core. For instance, Kuwabara has made it clear that the raised section on the east side of the gallery should go. He did this by inserting a new entrance on King St. — where there was none — and animating the street level.
The implications are obvious; these buildings must meet the ground itself, not an elevated concrete dais. In asserting the primacy of the street, Kuwabara and the gallery make it clear the street is the proper place for buildings and pedestrians. They suggest sidewalks and pedestrians are important parts of a city, not just irritants for drivers.
The question now is whether a single building can serve as a catalyst for wholesale urban development. It's too soon to tell, of course, but there's no doubt that the new gallery is that good. No one will be able to look at the rest of `70s Hamilton now and not think about what it could be.
Kuwabara, born and raised in Hamilton, winces when he considers the damage inflicted on his hometown. He would like to tear down whole sections of Jackson Square and take a serious look at the Hamilton Convention Centre.
"Hamilton needs visible signs of public life," Kuwabara says. "This is the first thing to happen here in a long, long time."
In the decades ahead, projects such as this will be initiated throughout Ontario and Canada. Across the country, cities, towns and suburbs have a model of how blight can be made right.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Ah any good comments from Christopher Hume must be good.

By the way the red-carpet televised gala is today. Martin Short is there at the moment. I think I heard the Governor General will attend.

Tomorrow I'll try to post pictures of the grand opening.
 

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"The results were so anonymous many people, even Hamiltonians, never knew exactly where the gallery was."

I'm afraid even this makeover won't fully shake the anonymity... that block on King St. is horrible. They need to reconfigure that whole section to make it work. They could start by gettting rid of that oppressive raised walkway that goes over the street, and re-route the entrances to the garages on both sides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Martin Short wearing his Order of Canada


Kathleen Roberston, actress


Bluesman Jackie Washington


Bob Young, Ticats owner and Ron Joyce, founder of Tim Hortons


Sheila Copps and her husband Austin


Harris Goldberg, screenwriter with Shirely Madill, AGH vice-president and COO


AGH president Louise Dompierre with author Sylvia Fraser

:bow: Louise Dompierre :bow:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
AGH project called ‘phenomenal’

They each paid $500 for a beef tenderloin dinner served under a huge tent set up on the forecourt.

The more than $300,000 raised made it one of the AGH’s largest fundraisers.

The gala featured a virtual who’s who of Hamilton’s political and business elite, plus the added attraction of 13 celebrities who either grew up in the Steel City or had a strong connection to it. This included Second City alumnus Martin Short, NHL player Dave Andreychuk, artist Alex Colville, actress Kathleen Robertson, singer Ian Thomas and screenwriter Harris Goldberg.

Spotted in the crowd were former regional chair Terry Cooke, Tim Hortons founder Ron Joyce, former Flamboro Downs owner Charles Juravinski, Dofasco president Don Pether, conductor Boris Brott and former Liberal cabinet minister Sheila Copps. About 50 volunteers and 30 AGH staff members helped shepherd the dinner guests around the building and caterer 1010 Bistro had 60 servers on hand to feed them.

Gallery officials were thrilled by the evening and the facelift, which was designed by famed Hamilton-born architect Bruce Kuwabara, who has worked on projects in Zurich, Berlin and Kitchener. Gallery renovations began 19 months ago, but gallery officials had been working on the project for the last decade. The 91-year-old gallery, which located to its King Street headquarters in 1977, has a collection of 8,000 works of art.

“It’s quite exciting,” said Louise Dompierre, president and CEO of the AGH. “When these things happen, you feel your head is floating a bit. That’s what’s happening to me now.”

Joey Tanenbaum has donated 211 works of 19th Century European art to the AGH in 2003 because he liked what he heard about was going on at the gallery and was impressed with Dompierre.

He declared the completed project “phenomenal” and called Dompierre and Kuwabara “geniuses” for bringing it in under $20 million. He said the AGH will “definitely” get more work from his collection.

“We will donate the odd thing or two (to the Art Gallery of Ontario), but I think that Louise has done such an incredible job here that we feel ... we are more inclined to give some other major areas of our collection to the Art Gallery of Hamilton in time,” Tanenbaum said.

Even some of the non-art celebrities were impressed with the evening. Short, who grew up in Westdale, said he was “thrilled” at being invited and recalled trips to the old AGH on Forsyth Avenue. He wore a pin of his Order of Canada on his tux. A ribbon cutting in the new front entrance was conducted by Mayor Larry Di Ianni, government House leader and MP Tony Valeri, Ontario Children’s Services Minister Marie Bountrogianni and former Ontario Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander.

It was heralded by Brantford town crier David McKee.

“This is about as exciting as it gets,” said Di Ianni. “To see the art gallery and the way the renovations turned out, and to see all these people pumped and hyped about Hamilton, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
 

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"“We will donate the odd thing or two (to the Art Gallery of Ontario), but I think that Louise has done such an incredible job here that we feel ... we are more inclined to give some other major areas of our collection to the Art Gallery of Hamilton in time,” Tanenbaum said."

Yowsa!!!

AGO sucks anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
algonquin said:
They could start by gettting rid of that oppressive raised walkway that goes over the street.
Guess what was Bruce Kuwabara number one complaint was?

Yep he wants City Hall to get rid of the elevated walkway next to AGH. Currently City Hall plans to pretty up elevated walkway but Kuwabara told them to instead just get rid of it. He said it blocks the view of the glass entrance to the gallery.
 
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