As privately owned public spaces (POPS) increasingly become part of new developments in Waterloo Region and beyond, we thought we'd take a closer look. You may not realize it, but you've likely spent some time in privately owned public spaces. Typically found in denser urban environments, they can take many forms, including front yards, courtyards, enhanced walkways, plazas and gardens.    The term privately owned public space was initially popularized by Harvard professor Jerold S. Kayden through his 2000 book Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience. However, the concept actually dates back to the late fifties, when New York planning officials began offering private developers both additional height and density in exchange for public open space… Read more ...
Every December the JMA team gathers at John and Margaret’s house to share the holiday cheer with our annual potluck.   Everyone is gathered around the table to explain the dishes they have cooked. Here John is showing the kimchi that took him a week to prepare.   Each year we choose a different theme for the potluck. We all agreed with enthusiasm that this time around we wanted to eat Korean food, so we got our creative juices to work! We learned that Koreans take great pride in their cooking traditions and having good wholesome foods in their homes.   It was great fun attempting to prepare dishes we had never cooked before...and great fun to eat them! Try out our recipes below:   Tong Dak (barbecue chicken wings) … Read more ...
  Elyn, Matt, Margaret, Marc, John and Melhik pause for a quick photo op while scaling the rocks on Wreck Island.   On the last weekend in July, 7 intrepid explorers from the JMA team set off into the sunshine to continue the tradition of the JMA Massasauga Camping Trip. Good weather, great company, and even better food were enjoyed by all over three days of canoeing, hiking, and swimming against the wild backdrop of the Canadian Shield.   Feasting in style, a full gourmet steak dinner cooked over an open fire, and “Bear Paw” pancakes!   The local fauna as seen in their natural habitat.   Marc and Elyn captured our exploration of the stunning landscape as resident office photographers. Until next year, Mas… Read more ...
February 09, 2024
    JMA closed up shop for a day and headed to the International Plowing Match in Roseville. Our team volunteered our time and muscles to assist the Mennonite Disaster Service in a demonstration of an “old fashion” barn raising, which took place over the course of the Plowing Match within the antique section of the event. The barn was brought in from Paris Ontario for the demonstration and was assembled and disassembled at the event before being transported to it’s final resting place at a private residence in Collingwood.   Our day started out with a very appropriate tractor ride from the parking area to the event grounds, once we where able to find the barn raising site we grabbed our hardhats and waited for instru… Read more ...
February 09, 2024
With utility costs, pollution, and water consumption on the continuous rise, the task to improve the environment and lower utilities costs is often on the minds of many homeowners. While a net zero home may not be an option for everyone, there are some simple improvements and upgrades you can make to achieve a greener, cheaper home at any price point.   Rainwater Barrels – Collect free water using a rainwater barrel. At an average cost of $100, a barrel will pay for itself in 5 years, saving you about $20 a year on your water and sewer costs, depending on the size you select. Rainwater has many uses including, plant and grass watering, car and window cleaning, and all sorts of other outdoor jobs and cleanups. Many municipalities offer rainwater bar… Read more ...
The JMA office endeavoured to replace one of the existing low performance windows in the office meeting room with a newer, higher performance model. The building in which JMA is located is the renovated Bonnie Stuart Shoe Factory. The building was originally built in 1910 and carried out its shoe making processes until 1997. Over the years, renovations have been carried out to adapt this older building to its current usage. Replacing the old single pane windows are a part of this ongoing process of renewal. JMA staff undertook the exercise of replacing the window in our office Meeting Room as a training exercise. Given the many times that each of us have drawn window details, we thought that this would be a good way to get a better understanding of the steps involved in constr… Read more ...

Tags: JMA
John MacDonald Architect continues to grow.    Our forward-thinking studio of twelve or so is presently working on a wide range of projects including adaptive re-use of heritage properties, mixed use and multi-res developments, institutional projects including library renovations, public spaces, office renovations, and maintenance facilities, as well as custom residential projects. If you can bring a unique skillset(s) to our dynamic team and would like to assist us with our expanding project load, we'd like to hear from you.    The successful applicant will be involved with all phases of project development, including client / subconsultant support and will work in person at our downtown Kitchener office.   Experience and skills: A good a… Read more ...
  Doors Open Waterloo Region returns as an in-person event in 2023 on Saturday, September 16 from 10 am to 4 pm, and we're proud to be a part of it. Waterloo Region will have 20 participating sites this year, such as noteworthy buildings, interesting places & heritage sites, many of which are not usually open to the public. The list includes WPL's Eastside Branch, which we designed in joint venture with ward99 architects inc, and the historic Public Utilities Commission building in downtown Kitchener, where our office is located on the second floor. Details about each can be found below.   An interactive map showing the location of all 20 participating sites can be found here. For further information, visit Doors Open Ontario.    The excellent illustratio… Read more ...
Rear house elevation with measurements   When accurate drawings don't exist, survey drawings must be done at the very beginning of every house renovation. They are the basis for realistic decision-making that responds well to the existing situation. When a couple of inches make the difference between being able to fit a door, or a washroom, the importance of good accurate drawings is evident. Unlike most architectural drawings, (done with a CAD program and sitting at our desks), these are done by hand and on site. The tools for this task haven't changed: a couple of steel measuring tapes (15' & 30') and a surveyor's tape at 100', clipboard, plenty of paper, pencils, eraser, sharpener and pens in various colours, a flashlight and a camera.   You might th… Read more ...
John MacDonald Architect is interested in hiring a senior architecture student to join our team in Kitchener. Undergraduate and graduate students seeking co-op placements are encouraged to apply. Preference is for a student able to start September 2023.     Our office is a small team of twelve or so that is presently working on a vast range of projects including adaptive re-use of heritage properties, residential care (including emergency shelters, group homes, and supportive housing), and various institutional projects including library exterior / accessibility renovations, office renovations, and maintenance facilities, as well as a handful of residential projects including an office conversion and private residences. We offer exposure to all phases of project d… Read more ...

Tags: JMA
April 26, 2023
Our staff will once again be participating in Jane's Walk, the annual community-based approach to city building that uses volunteer-led walking tours to encourage people to rediscover the value of walking, and to observe, reflect, share, question and re-imagine the places in which they live, work and play. This year, both John and Scott have Jane's Walks planned for the first full weekend of May (6-7).    Balzer-Manitou Trail: Parkway Potential, with Scott   Take a stroll with Scott Clark of John MacDonald Architect down Schneider Creek into the Balzer Greenway, following the route of a planned active transportation connection. Along the way, we'll look at the history of the Balzer farm, as well as discuss desire lines, local infrast… Read more ...

What people are saying:

Vertical orange rectangle separator graphic.
Scott | August 02, 2023
Thanks Nolan. If you can think of anything to add to the list, we'd be interested to hear from you.
Vertical orange rectangle separator graphic.
Nolan Bentley | August 01, 2023
I am going measuring tomorrow so this is a timely reflection :-) thx!