This vision was prepared as an assignment for an online course I’m currently enrolled in, titled Designing Cities. For the assignment, we were asked to choose an area of our city in need of redevelopment and imagine what it could become by incorporating creative design features.
The Pier 7/8 area of Hamilton, Canada is a former industrial district that has been highlighted by the city for redevelopment into a new, sustainable waterfront community.
The western edge of the neighbourhood currently serves as a popular destination for locals year-round, including a public skating rink, park, waterfront trail, café, and nightclub. The eastern edge, however, remains largely unused, despite the fact that it features breathtaking views of Hamilton Harbour. The lands are owned by the City of Hamilton and are an excellent opportunity to accommodate some of Hamilton’s growing population with infill development.
General Design Features
My design for the redevelopment of Pier 7/8 includes new mid-rise residential units laid out on a grid street network. Buildings along the main north-south street for the neighbourhood, John Street, will be required to include street-facing commercial space on the first floor of every building, with the residential towers set back from the street, creating the perception of a low-rise street and opening up views of the waterfront. The neighbourhood will be wrapped with a boardwalk and multi-use trail that allows everyone to enjoy the waterfront views and connect to the rest of Hamilton’s waterfront. The western edge of the site will remain as park space, but will be redesigned to maximize usability from the surrounding community.
Given the high development value of the land, the City should hold developers to a high standard, offloading many of the improvement costs to them. The success of this site will be dependent on the City’s planning and transportation departments, and the local community effectively working together to ensure that the site creates a sense of pride for residents and locals.
Prioritizing Sustainable Transportation Modes
The transportation design for the new district will hold all road users equal. Space will be allocated for cyclists on the busier roads, and traffic speed will be managed on side streets to ensure that cyclists feel comfortable riding in mixed traffic.
The A-Line LRT will also be expanded north to serve the new community, creating a frequent service that reaches Hamilton’s GO stations and downtown. The LRT will also create an easy way for visitors to access the waterfront without having to drive.
The pedestrian environment will be made wonderful, through wide sidewalks, lots of tree coverage, and connections to the waterfront and parks.
Bikeshare and carshare vehicles will also be included to give residents more transportation options.
Design as a Community
The Pier 7/8 neighbourhood will include over 1000 residential units by the end of its build-out, creating potential to establish the neighbourhood as a self-dependent community. Emphasis will be put on supporting local business, and the main streets will be lined with small-footprint, street-facing retail that puts local needs first – grocers, pharmacies, cafes, restaurants, etc.
The local park will be reachable on foot by everyone in the community and will have playgrounds for children, and activity space for sports, events, picnics, etc.
Locating the parking supply for the site in a central garage will also increase sense of community, as neighbours interact with each other on their way to and form their cars.