By Sheena Sharp
Published December 28, 2012
The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) recently announced that they will be holding their annual conference and general meeting in Hamilton in 2015. This will be the first time the OAA will be holding their conference in this city.
What took so long? Well, Hamilton's reputation as a town primarily interested in heavy industry did not make it easy to lure our membership, particularly when Toronto is so close and convenient for the majority of members.
But times are changing. Hamilton is a city in transition and that in itself is interesting to architects. Over the past year, Hamilton has attracted more commercial and industrial new developments than any other city in Canada.
Hamilton is also at the forefront of a booming real estate market with rising home prices, despite a cooling national average. Most notably, Hamilton has both a historic building fabric with many interesting new developments and there is an overall spirit in the city that is seeking urban change.
During the three-day conference, taking place May 6-8 in 2015, the OAA will invite its members from across Ontario and beyond to engage with Hamilton's new urban energy, and participate in important discussions about the state of architecture in the province. Over 1000 architects are expected to attend.
Visiting architects will have the opportunity to explore Hamilton's new construction and investment opportunities along with the city's notable heritage sites with tours given by local Hamilton architects.
Stops will include extensive renewal and restoration projects, such as James Street North and the Hamilton Central Library and Farmers' Market renovations, which earned prestigious recognition at the OAA's 2011 awards gala.
The most pressing question is: how can we leverage the conference to benefit the attendees and the city beyond short-term economic gain?
During the conference, the OAA will host workshops, continuing education seminars and keynote speakers. These events are a great opportunity for architects to engage with local planners and other Hamiltonians to share inspiration and ideas for the future.
What if we held a workshop specifically about Hamilton? Both The American Institute of Architects (AIA) conferences and Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) conferences have had workshop components where a municipal director of planning poses a problem and architects spend a day developing a creative response. There are also student variations of this exercise.
With detailed planning of seminars, guest speakers, workshops and themes still ahead of us, partnerships large and small are welcome. If you have suggestions, we invite you to send us your ideas to Marilyn McInnes, OAA Conference Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an annual conference tradition, the public is also invited to our President's Reception, which precedes the OAA's annual Celebration of Excellence Awards Dinner. During the reception, guests have the opportunity to see our Design Excellence award winners, projects that demonstrate forward-thinking design and leadership in architecture, as well as Concepts and Presentations winners highlighting the best in theoretical and object design.
In 2015, this reception will take place Friday, May 8 inside LIUNA Station. We look forward to seeing you there.
Through opening up our doors during the 2015 conference, we hope to foster a greater appreciation of architecture, architects and good design in the public realm, and stimulate new ideas about the future. For more information on the OAA and previous conference events, visit www.oaa.on.ca.
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