Renowned architect Bruce Kuwabara is designing a 45-storey signature tall building for the proposed Pier 8 redevelopment as part of a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal settlement with Herman Turkstra and Harbour West Neighbours Inc.

If built, the building will be the largest in Hamilton measured from base to top, but the 43-storey Landmark Place at 100 Main Street East will remain Hamilton’s tallest building in the lower city by geodetic height.

Kuwabara’s proposed building will have a geodetic height of 224 metres, Landmark Place’s geodetic height is 226 metres. (The Escarpment height at the foot of Hughson Street is 192 metres)

The difference is significant. If the City approves a building with a greater geodetic height than Landmark Place, it creates a precedent which can be used by other developers to challenge the Urban Hamilton Official Plan undermining the City’s array of zoning bylaws and secondary plans.

Geodetic Height Diagram for the proposed Pier 8 Tall Building measured against Landmark Place

The plans for the building were announced tonight during a public meeting of the North End Neighbourhood Association, which was held online.

Kuwabara grew up in Hamilton’s North End, and has shown a special passion for this redevelopment project as lead architect for Waterfront Shores, the development consortium which won the City of Hamilton run competition to redevelop the Pier 8 site.
The latest changes to the development plan for Pier 8 are the result of negotiations between the various parties following Ontario Municipal Board appeals launched by Turkstra, Harbour West Neighbours (the neighbourhood appellants), Bunge Canada, and Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd.

Kuwabara’s proposal forms part of the settlement between the neighbourhood appellants, Waterfront Shores, and the City of Hamilton. The settlement was approved at the Ontario Municipal Board.

It requires a new Official Plan Amendment and new Zoning By-Law Amendment to be approved by Council. The new OPA and ZBA could be appealed by other affected parties.

All parties to the settlement committed to public engagement to ensure support for their agreement, and to avoid a separate appeal in the future.

(The industrial appellants’ appeals are ongoing, and involve different issues related to the interaction of the proposed residential development on the east side of Pier 8 with the Hamilton Port’s industrial operations. They are not parties to this settlement.)

The proposed 45-storey building visual impact concept from the York Blvd High Level Bridge

The proposed tall building will see the density of the remainder of the large Pier 8 development decreased while at the same time “substantially” increasing the number of family units, says Calvin Brook of Brook McIlroy.

The City retained Brook McIlroy as independent consultants to produce the Pier 7+8 Urban Design Study, and had them review the changes submitted to the LPAT.

He says the building will show “something new and interesting is happening in Hamilton” and serve as a beacon to showcase the good things happening at Pier 8.
Brook says the proposed tall building will contain up to 400 units of housing. He says both the density and building design parameters enables family size units in the top third of the building above the 30th floor.

Up to 400 units, this enables additional family units because above 31 storeys “The scale of the other buildings will have fewer units”, Brook says. This enable more parking in the buildings to alleviate parking pressures”. There will be need for visitor parking for people coming from across Hamilton.

One of the key parts of the OMB settlement agreement is the City must providing sufficient parking at Pier 8 for all activities at the Pier. All parking needed for uses between Piers 5 to 8 must be north of Guise Street as part of the agreement.

Conceptual floor plans for floors 31-45.
Conceptual floor plans for living floors 30 and below.

Kuwabara says this site is unique on the Great Lakes because it is surrounded by water on three sides, offering him as an architect many elements to complement in his design.

Noting he lives in a tall building himself, Kuwabara says making the building family friendly is important to him.

Tonight’s online public meeting was the first of many consultation sessions the City of Hamilton plans to hold in the coming months says Alissa Mahood, Senior Project Manager – Community Planning & GIS in the City’s Planning Division.

Mahood said in normal circumstances, the City would’ve unveiled the plan in a large public forum with much advertisement. Due to COVID, the City cannot hold physical public meetings. Mahood said the City did not wish to delay releasing information to the public, and all parties agreed to consult the North End Neighbourhood Association as part of one of NENA’s regular meetings.

Around 75 people joined tonight’s online meeting, held using the Zoom platform.
Mahood says the City is working on more engagement plans and will be particularly focused on reaching people for whom internet video meetings are not an accessible platform.

The slides Mahood presented to NENA are available here.

A conceptual design for a 45-storey tall building at Hamilton’s Pier 8 redevelopment designed by Bruce Kuwabara and shown to a meeting of the North End Neighbourhood Association on May 20, 2020
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v. 1.0.1
First published: May 20, 2020
Last edited: May 20, 2020
Author: Joey Coleman
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v. 1.0.0 original version
v. 1.0.1 minor correction - added that Landmark Place would remain the tallest building "in the lower city" by geodetic height. Thanks to a comment on Reddit for pointing out buildings upon the escarpment have taller geodetic heights.