By Ryan McGreal
Published July 08, 2011
Chris Hume, the Toronto Star's resident urbanist, has written a column congratulating Hamilton for doing a good job preserving and renovating City Hall.
[City Hall] is one of those rare modernist structures that feels as fresh now as it must have in 1960 when it was completed. Designed by City Architect Stanley Roscoe - who knew that Steeltown once had a city architect? - this is a relic from a time when people viewed the world with undiluted optimism.
That's long gone now but thanks to a $55-million renovation, Hamilton City Hall has been restored, refurbished and returned to some semblance of its former self. Though not every element of the program is equally impressive, the overall result still manages to please. The building may be a relic, but it's one that appears well loved and well-cared for.
Of course, in classic Hume style, it bars no holds and fires some painful zingers:
Hamilton being Hamilton, the fact the project happened at all is remarkable. ...
This is a city that has made every mistake in the book, and has the scars to prove it. Few urban centres have managed to inflict as much damage on themselves as has Hamilton. After eviscerating its core in the 1960s and '70s, it seems to have run out of any clear sense of where it was headed and why.
He also knocks Council for replacing the building's marble facade with precast concrete. "Though the architects have done their best to match the original material, the latter is no substitute for stone."
However, he concludes on a hopeful note:
Hamilton's decision to stay and restore its City Hall bodes well for a town that has suffered serious self-esteem issues. Now, 50 years later, there's reason for optimism once again.