The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is partnering with the University of Waterloo’s School of Architecture on a two-day Design Charrette that will creatively envision a culturally active presence in the Civic District. Four design teams of architects, engineers, developers, urban planners, artists and civic leaders gathered at KWAG under the guidance of Rick Haldenby (right), former Director of the Waterloo School of Architecture, to engage in a visionary exercise last week.
“There is dramatic change happening in the Kitchener core,” explains Haldenby, who provides extensive experience of design for mid-size cities to this charrette. “The pace of development is unprecedented. We need to take action to protect the quality, liveability, sustainability and diversity of the core area. By focusing on the Civic District, our charrette will produce challenging ideas for inspiring public spaces, healthy green spaces, an attractive pedestrian environment, and cultural facilities worthy of this growing and creative city.”
This charrette is a continuation of a master plan for the Civic District conceived in 2009 through a community planning process entitled Imagine the Possibilities! This plan informed the expansion of the Kitchener Public Library, the creation of a central green space, placemaking enhancements and new public art at Queen and Weber. “Ten years later,” says Cory Bluhm of the City of Kitchener, “it is only fitting that we come together again to Imagine the Possibilities. Over the next three years, the City of Kitchener will be engaging with the community in the Civic District to revisit and reimagine a Master Plan for this key asset within our city. This is an exciting opportunity to imagine the potential of the Civic District as a marquee destination to experience arts, culture, community, entertainment and so much more.”
“As a strong believer in active civic engagement, the Gallery takes its role in the revitalization of the City of Kitchener seriously,” adds Shirley Madill, KWAG’s Executive Director. “We have been exploring how the integration of culture and urban renewal leads to culturally active spaces over the past through months through our series of Culture Talks. Engaging the community in the visionary creation of a renewed Civic District is not only important to us but also all the cultural organizations that inhabit this area and our neighbourhood residents. We are pleased to work with the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener on this impactful event.”