April 01, 2021
A graceful and delightful home design succeeds in achieving great relationships between the parts and the whole.   Designing a home is one of the toughest challenges for everyone. At first seemingly so simple (three bedroom, 2 storey, etc), a house can be quite complex. That is because a house has to support its residents and guests in everything they do: through different stages of life, eating, sleeping, resting, dreaming, playing, learning, working, cooking, entertaining, and lots more. Additionally, there might be a demand to accommodate for particular needs, either for accessibility, or work/ hobby related, or particular preferences. The construction of this house spared the tree so the entry experience could be organized around it. This tree is now a delightful feat… Read more ...
March 15, 2021
John MacDonald Architect is interested in hiring an architecture student to join our team in Kitchener. Undergraduate students seeking co-op placements are encouraged to apply. Preference is for a student able to start immediately.    Our office is a small team of six 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 a library, office renovations, and maintenance facilities, as well as a handful of private residences.   We offer exposure to all phases of project development and mentorship from firm principal and senior level staff.   The successful applicant will work in… Read more ...

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Fun at the breakfast included a horoscope review: "use the daylight hours to the max. Others might find you to be vague. Plans take an unexpected twist or turn." Let's hope I get this article done early, I make my point clearly, and I stay on track. If not, I'll be paying more attention to random advice proffered under my zodiac sign.   Was this reference to "plans" mere chance? My day was to produce an article on those pernicious instruments called "visions" and "master plans". Was the horoscope serendipity, or some cosmic scheme showing a bit of slip? "Plans take an unexpected twist or turn" isn't, quite frankly, much of a stretch as predictions go.   Each long-term vision we construct is doomed for obsolescence. To paraphrase Colin Powell: "No master plan survives … Read more ...
What's with all the black and dark grey building exteriors lately? New construction; building renos; paint jobs to existing brick buildings; it seems to be the flavour (or colour) of the month. The Oxlea Tower on Frederick St., for example, now hulks even more on Kitchener's skyline, courtesy of its Darth Vader colour scheme. Black and grey come in all sorts of materials: as siding, baked coatings, panels, back-painted glass, and even masonry. Black is showing up in homes, office & residential towers, commercial buildings and public institutional facilities.   Are these a symptom of our times, something dour and lifeless that we're living through? Or perhaps emblematic? Will we look back at them and say, “Oh yeah, 2nd Decade!”?     Why suc… Read more ...
February 01, 2021
Because our architectural practice and work is rooted in the physical world and the landscape that our designs affect, it’s important that this blog stay “grounded”. Literally.   Although discussions about design are often abstracted from context, that’s not us. Our work and interest is about making and enhancing particular places.   That’s why we’ve decided that Design and Community has a physical lifeline, which is the particular natural, rural, urban, and suburban mix associated with the Grand River Watershed, where our office and many of our projects are located.   We often think of a watershed as a geographic unit divorced from our built form. It’s not.    The t… Read more ...
Numerous studies over the past two decades have touted the popular phrase “Good Design is Good Business”. But with such an intangible product, how can you know that good design will be “good” for your business?   With all the great things we know design can do for your business (such as increase productivity, reduce turnover, increase sales, reduce building maintenance costs and many more) it can be difficult for designers and firms to understand the reluctance to invest in design. Perhaps you never knew what design can do? Ask Apple. They will tell you.   While the most notable studies on the topic have come out of the U.K, there is increasing recognition throughout the Globe about the connection between design and business success. With … Read more ...
January 12, 2021
What Do You Think?   Welcome. We wish you the best in 2021. Safest and healthiest too!   This blog entry is the first in a series of “What do you Think …” posts that we’d like to share with our community. We’re trying to make our website a great forum for community ideas and discussions, so we’ll be introducing topics on a regular basis through the blog. We hope you join us from time to time, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.    Share your thoughts on community building, whether it's the bricks and mortar type, or about how to strengthen the social fabric of the places where we live, work and play.     We are excited to get your feedback and engage the community on topics t… Read more ...
Mila chose the theme of "Industrial Architecture" for things we like because she thought the interpretation would be very versatile. The group came up with a range of choices including: industrial spaces that are in use today, buildings that were repurposed from old industry, and elements of design inspired by industry.   Margaret’s Pick: Becker Architekten’s Hydroelectric Plant, Kempten, Germany. Margaret appreciates the way the plant is integrated with the urban fabric, and wonders  if this kind of project would work for Cambridge, Ontario.   John’s Pick: Maishama Waste Incineration Plant, Osaka, Japan. This fanciful building was designed by Austrian architect Hundertwasser, who protested the uniformity of Bauhaus… Read more ...
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs   Every year citizens in cities across the globe gather to participate in organized walking tours in honour of Jane Jacobs. Jane was an activist and writer who introduced the world to ground-breaking ideas about community-based approaches to city building. She believed that is it important for local residents to become familiar with their neighbourhoods and have input on how their neighbourhood develops. Jane’s Walks are hosted each year on the first weekend of May and focus on a variety of themes relevant to the local planning, history, people and culture of the city in which the walks take place.  … Read more ...
The Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) gathered together at their annual general meeting and showed their support for ensuring healthier workplace standards. A motion brought forward by John MacDonald called his fellow architects into action by asking them to stand up to solve issues of equity and fairness within the architectural profession. The motion specifically pertains to exemptions in the Employment Standards Act that exclude architects, among other professions, from certain employment standards such as entitlement to minimum wage, overtime pay, and vacation. The motion was received with resounding support from members of the OAA.   John was inspired to spearhead a grassroots movement among architects in Ontario to prove that architects are willing and able to take t… Read more ...

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