John MacDonald   I’ve been reading an article entitled Why You Should Use an Architect for Your Project, from the 2011 Ontario Association of Architects "Profiles 2011" Membership guide. Although  the article is interesting, informative, and mostly on target in the mind of this particular architect, I couldn’t help but wonder how a broader audience receives its message.   The article basically takes the point of view that a professional can help you make informed and important decisions about your project, with your best interests in mind. So far so good. It also points out that your project can benefit from the architect’s perspective on how the project can contribute to the quality of our communities and public interest. That̵… Read more ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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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