Theatre Aquarius was originally constructed in 1991. With funds for the initial construction being limited, functional and aesthetic compromises were made during construction. The design team engaged with the Theatre to address ongoing issues plaguing the building; to date, the roof along with all rooftop units and the curtainwall in the main lobby have been replaced. Functional issues dealt with, the Theatre has been able to turn its attention to aesthetic and urban design issues. One of the urban design deficiencies of the original building was its entrance. The small canopy and double swing doors were out of scale and provided an awkward transition from the sidewalk to the lobby. Adorned only with a few incandescent Tivoli lights, the canopy did little to enhance the Theatre’s street presence. The new canopy design brings the street to life with a continuous 1m-high video display wrapping around the new canopy accented with bands of LED lights shining down from the perforated metal soffit, providing presence and luster befitting a major Performing Arts Centre, while new automatic sliding doors improve accessibility, giving all patrons a dignified entrance-experience regardless of age or mobility. The original entrance to the building under-performed in terms of urban design – the small canopy and double swing doors were out of scale with the lobby and street elevation, providing an awkward transition from the sidewalk into the lobby. The new entrance canopy is considerably larger than the original and is supported by the existing decorative structural grid adorning the lobby – leaving the oversized canopy columns to be removed, clearing the entrance-way, and framing the view west towards James Street and the Stelco Tower beyond. As theatre goers pass under the canopy, button LED lights sparkle in the canopy soffit illuminating the sidewalk and playfully dancing on the glass of the new automatic sliding doors. Patrons are whisked inside in an elegant and accessible manner – a thank-you to government funding for barrier free improvements is in order.The generous canopy provides Theatre Aquarius a practical shelter and a formal exterior gathering space, ultimately demarking Theatre Aquarius the anchor of the “King William Arts Walk” - the burgeoning commercial strip from James to Ferguson – a role now fulfilled with dignity. The new canopy uses the existing decorative grid for structural support and fills an entire structural bay with its width – instantly upgrading the entrance to the theatre lobby in a way that seems to have been planned by the original designers and architects. At dawn the canopy appears as a shallow rectangular box cantilevered over the sidewalk – supported elegantly by steel rods above – then springing to life during prescribed hours the entire perimeter emits colour and light in a preview of the action to follow inside the theatre. Videos screens compose the perimeter of the canopy – providing the theatre a new way of engaging the community on the street: King William street – a designated special entertainment district would seem to have been calling for such a beacon amid the surface parking lots and other various plots of development potential.
2018 Award of Merit Urban Intervention, HBSA Achievement in Architecture Awards, Theatre Aquarius CanopyTestimonials
“Theatre Aquarius, like many institutions in the non-profit sector, has big dreams, grand visions, and limited resources. That is exactly why a partner like david premi architecture has been so essential for us. They share our inspiration, and have the flexibility and responsiveness to help us actualize those ideas, while taking innovative approaches to ensure that the finished project reflects the vision, and not the roadblocks that were overcome along the way.”Lorna Zaremba, General Manager Theatre Aquarius
In 2013, Dr. Robert Fitzhenry donated generously to the School of the Arts (SoTA) for a new addition/renovation to the existing studios and classrooms at Togo Salmon Hall. The objective was to engage community practitioners, alumni, faculty, staff, and students in the design process to understand what the needs, potentials, and caveats of the project would be. The new addition provides vastly expanded floorspace and amenities for more equipment-intensive media — printmaking and sculpture — including facilities for lithography, etching, and silkscreen, as well as wood- and metal-working, and one of Canada’s few remaining metal casting facilities housed in a University fine arts facility. Once-windowless studios for upper-year students have been expanded, and flex-studio and new media facilities balance the use of traditional media with an understanding of the shifting nature of creative practice with the emergence of new tools. Gentle north light pours into the double-height painting studios and the addition of a 25’x25’x25’ glass-enclosed atrium (“the Cube”), provides a powerful environment for critique, exhibition and performance. The SoTA’s new urban prominence has strengthened connections with other faculties so that art students can offer their unique perspectives to engineering and humanities students, and vice versa. Because of urban connections at two levels, the highly transparent “Cube” is now in frequent demand as an event space on campus, while broadly showcasing the work of students and faculty members during both working critiques and final exhibits
“It has been a pleasure to work with dpai on our art studio expansion and renovation project at McMaster University. dpai’s friendly consultation throughout the process was effective and much appreciated. They applied their expertise to our unique demands, arriving at aesthetically dynamic solutions for a complex network of work spaces. The result is a functionally and visually cohesive space.”Professor Judy Major-Girardin McMaster School of the Arts
This renovation project involved the reorganization and re-branding of both the Farmer’s Market and the Central Public Library, two of Hamilton’s most important civic destinations. The Library features new public spaces, reorganized and enhanced collections, and increased computer and internet access through the introduction of a 50 workstation information commons. The renovation of the Farmer’s Market focused on improvement of the HVAC system, lighting, plumbing servicing, and an overall reorganization of the functional layout.
The detailing of the new façade of the additions assists in re-establishing a connection with the street thereby supporting Downtown Renewal and the overall health of the urban environment. The project has also provided an opportunity to engage the public, staff, and politicians in a discourse on the value of good design.
“I have worked with many architects on many projects; this project was the first time I found myself letting go, confident that our hopes and visions for the building were being heard and were being translated into a workable plan combined with an amazing AWE factor. Use of the building skyrocketed and has remained high ever since the transformation performed by David and his team.”Former Chief Librarian Ken Roberts Hamilton Public Library
Dpai was asked to renovate an existing reading space and respond to the current demands and expectations of faculty and students, while reflecting the changing layout of learning spaces. A central curvilinear partial-height partition was proposed to provide three meeting rooms for small to medium study groups and video confer-ences, while retaining light and vision through the space with gen-erous glazed panels. Access to natural light is a precious commodity in the modernist tower and priority was given to the open-study and small collaborative study groupings. The previously non-descript study room, a bonus space created as the physical volumes of the library, decreased and stacks were removed. It was given texture and a layer of new materials. A portion of the concrete ceiling was ex-posed, with the added benefit of increasing the height and volume of the study space.
“It was a pleasure for us to work with architects who understood so much about student needs and have a solid grounding in trends in the evolution and transformation of libraries. David and his team were very collaborative and responsive to our needs. They were ultimately able to unlock the potential within the constraints of a challenging building and were able to translate our vision into a dynamic learning space. The result resonates deeply with our students who have commented that the new space motivates, inspires and energizes them. Their only complaint is that we haven’t yet done the same with the rest of the library. I would welcome the opportunity to work with dpai again would recommend their team without hesitation.”Chief Librarian Mark Robertson Brock University
This twin pad arena reached LEED Silver status and is to date the most energy efficient facility owned by the City of Hamilton. Designed to meet current recreational needs, it is fully accessible, exceeding Ontario Building Code requirements. dpai partnered with rdh architects, leading the site planning and site plan control efforts. The master site plan involved the relocation of two soccer fields, the preservation of the existing single pad arena, and accommodating a proposed Ministry of Transportation highway interchange. dpai also participated in the design, construction documents and LEED certification process. The facility houses two full-size hockey rinks, one with year-round ice, and elevated seating for 900 people. Warm viewing areas of the rinks on both levels were integrated in the design, along with 12 change rooms, 4 referee rooms, a multi-purpose room, meeting rooms, a pro-shop and a large central atrium.
dpai helped University of Toronto’s (U of T) Food and Ancillary Services realize 5 unique, proprietary food concepts in the heart of downtown Toronto’s campus. dpai worked with the clients to develop separate branding images for a pizzeria, a soup bar, a salad bar, a tex-mex and a gourmet burger concept. Special attention was paid to every detail to ensure the spaces for all food concepts reinforced the client’s food concept vision. dpai achieved that by designing elements such as custom pop art boxes, bicycle taxidermy artwork, custom industrial lighting, and stunning custom designed steel, live edge and acrylic panel service counters. Even though the designs were highly customized, dpai successfully worked within tight timelines and budgets, and worked closely with U of T Food Services to incorporate new food service equipment.
The service counters were designed and built to last; the live edge wood, and undulating butcher block counter wrap at the pizzeria serve to lend warmth to the space, and unify all 5 food concepts. This renovation raised the bar for design for food services on campus, and set a new standard for food service counter design for future projects on campus. Stone Oven Pizza is currently out performing its major chain counterpart on campus, and all food concepts points have been showing major gains in sales.
DPAI was the Prime Consultant for the renovation project to the Town of Oakville’s Town Hall. The project involved multiple phases, including development of a Master Accommodation Plan for the Town Hall, with concurrent renovations to Oakville’s customer service centre, service desk and existing Shipping + Receiving area, followed by the main renovation construction phase.
The Master Accommodation Plan marries a design that optimizes location, functionality, synergies, and space usage with a phasing plan that minimizes disruption to ongoing operations and ensures cost efficiency. The Master Accommodation Plan was completed in July of 2012.
Renovation to the customer service centre required total completion by the end of 2013, presenting an aggressive schedule requiring design and drawings to be completed in a very short time frame. The Shipping + Receiving renovation required a reconfiguration, creating a more functional and efficient space. The new space remained in its existing location due to its proximity to the property entrance and accommodations were made so that all Shipping and Receiving functions remain operational during construction.
When the Department of Kinesiology needed to design facilities to house new biomechanics, physiology and motor-control labs using existing space in the Ivor Wynne Centre Building they turned to dpai. Short on time, but in need of a thorough assessment of the space, dpai led user groups through a participatory design process that was crafted specifically to facilitate the compressed schedule. With a scope of work that included all interior design and furniture selection, the end product is filled with light and transparency and a once hidden department was now front and center.
“We were renovating an existing use research and educational space in an older building on a limited budget. The team from dpai took the time to thoroughly assess our current and future needs and managed to channel our vision into design features that have had a lasting positive impact on all users of the space. We have found that the space is adaptable to our needs, robust in terms of utilization and comfortable and energizing to work in. From start to finish, the team from dpai was amazing to work with. Their attention to detail, commitment to quality work and focus on customer service resulted in an outcome that far surpassed our expectations.”Dean of Science Maureen Jane MacDonald Ph.D. McMaster University
David Premi acted as Project Architect and Design Team leader for the Brock University Plaza 2006 project. dpai was responsible for all contract administration services. The 71,000 sq.ft. building included a new 13,000 sq.ft. fully fit-out Campus Store on the ground level with two 14,000 sq.ft storeys of academic offices and teaching spaces above. The building is connected to the existing Student Services Building on three of five levels and will act as a gateway building for pedestrian traffic arriving by both automobile and mass transit.
The building also houses the LifeSpan Development Research Centre which includes the departments of the Brock Research Institute for Youth Studies (BRIYS), Social-Personality Group, Hormone and Brain Development Research, Infancy Research, and Neuropsychology/ Psychophysiology Labs. The building is a key element in the development and expansion of the South Campus. The building attained LEED® Silver Accreditation and includes: stormwater management quality control, light pollution reduction, energy recovery systems, enhanced commissioning, construction waste management, recycled content, regional materials and low-emitting materials, temperature and lighting control systems, enhanced daylight and views, external shading devices and an innovative conditioned air delivery system that utilizes the thermal mass of the building’s precast hollow core structural deck to store heating and cooling and to significantly reduce energy consumption.
Mohawk College’s new Centre for Health Care Simulation at the Institute for Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) located at McMaster University, houses over 25,000 square feet of integrated clinical lab space and supports over 2,000 Full and Part time students per semester. The centre is an inter-disciplinary learning environment enabling students to develop field and clinical skills as part of an inter-professional team. Students demonstrate skills and competency using technology enhanced simulation, paired with a simulated patient program. dpai designed the various space types to support and align with the IAHS vision and saw the multi-phased projects through to completion. The project includes a new Ultrasound Simulation Lab, a new Cardiovascular Technology Lab, a new Accessible Testing Centre, a new Computer and Silent Study Lab, a new integrated and collaborative Resource Library (which includes a new service hub, a large anatomical model display case, various collaborative and solo study areas, small meeting rooms, brain storm area, and study lounge), a new Staff Workroom, a new Research Lab, a new Point of Care Demonstration Lab, an expanded Nurse Clinical Tutorial Lab and two new ADL (apartment simulation) Labs.
"I was impressed on many levels with the DPAI team. They are professional, responsive, respectful and did a very good job of engaging all the stakeholders in the process. They were flexible and accommodating to the changing scope and requirements of the project. The space has been transformed from a 20 year old traditional learning environment to a modern, energetic and creative space that attracts students from all across campus."Paul Armstrong, Vice President Academic Mohawk College
Connect Communities, a transitional residence for those recovering from Acquired Brain Injuries or Stroke, implemented a new treatment model in Ontario that assists their residents in a life redesign process. This treatment program’s traditional barrier-free code requirements be creatively avoided or hidden where possible, creating a definitively residential environment. The care facility belies its formal identity to fit within the scale and persona of the residential community it which exists. Boasting 42 bedrooms and ensuites, communal living areas connected by amenity spaces and offices, the facility is complemented by a tangible connection to the landscape and thoughtful access to the surrounding community. A treatment room includes consideration for flooring and equipment as well as a ceiling mounted patient lift to assist in client rehabilitation and fitness programs. Care was taken to provide both privacy to the clients in the treatment room, but also provide views out to the protected conservation lands outside.
The building sits on a slab on grade foundation that respects the protected karst geology beneath. A compressed approvals and construction schedule was aided by a pre-engineered steel structure that is prefabricated and assembled on-site in large panels – saving time, ensuring tight construction tolerances and increasing safety on the construction site.
As a public institution, the new Helsinki Central Library is both representative of Finnish society today, and acts as an incubator for the evolution of the culture. It is not only a place where information is consumed and digested but also a forum for the creation of cultural content. The Library is a connector and provides a point of interface between Finnish Culture and the world. It is a symbol of the richness, diversity, and dynamic nature of the country. The mass of the building is elevated above a continuous plaza surface which extends infinitely into the fabric of the City, through the country, and beyond, thereby connecting Finland with the world. The “underbelly” of the building directly addresses the ground surface, providing a direct interface. The face of the underbelly (the inter-face) is clad entirely in a system of glass and LED light slats.
The main mass of the building has been formed through surrender to the forces at play: the presence of the Parliament Buildings, the views, the sun, and the program. The result is a sculpted form with varying percentages of clear glazing, acid etched glazing and titanium clad spandrel panels which exhibits interplay between solid and void, transparency and opacity, not unlike a block of ice as it is eroded and changed by the elements.
Part of the space created below the inter-face is enclosed program space, and some exterior public space. The boundary between these realms is transparent and meandering so as to be insubstantial. The interior spaces are very public in nature: main entrances to program above, café, exhibition, lounge, shops, and flexible performance space.
The City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Public Library engaged dpai to conduct a feasibility study for a future library addition to the Carlisle Community Centre and Arena, located at 1496 Centre Rd in Carlisle.
dpai met with library staff and end users to identify key program and space requirements, which included: 3,000sf of space, transparency and street presence, three distinct areas for adults, teens and children, flexible public staff area with private secure staff lounge and kitchenette, provision of a central flexible space for after-hours use, an “express area” that could be sectioned off for after-hours, unsupervised use, and full compliance with the Hamilton Barrier-Free Design Guidelines. dpai worked alongside structural, mechanical and electrical consultants to develop a complete design brief as well as Class D costing and conceptual renderings. The end result was to achieve a simple, functional and logical interpretation of the program arrangement by arranging the private (“opaque”) functions into 3 solid “blocks” (book drop, staff back-of-house, and WCs/utility spaces), while the stacks and main workspaces remain flexible, transparent and open. The exterior walls form an alternating pattern of solid and void, providing space for shelving against the wall, and opening up with portions of glass at ground level to create a sense of visibility, transparency and security from the street and parking lot approach.
Along with the complete feasibility report, dpai presented the results at a Library board meeting and assisted in answering questions/identifying areas of future concern.
dpai assisted living hope Christian assembly in converting a 1960’s warehouse in Hamilton’s east end into a second campus for the church. Participatory design sessions were carefully designed to assist in programming the space and in determining budgets and scope of various project phases.
The design included exterior upgrades and a full interior renovation. The exterior corrugated metal cladding was repaired and repainted to give the building an upgraded look. A new building entrance was introduced at the rear along with a new large window that floods the common areas of the foyer and café with natural light and views of the green escarpment backdrop. The existing building interior was gutted down to its structure and new programmatic zones and spaces were arranged into volumes with a clear diagram that accommodate the diverse needs of the congregation.