Design-oriented occupations have always played an important role in Hamilton and, in recent years, there has been growth in the newer area of digital media. Firms in the fields of architecture, planning, landscape architecture, and engineering are key to the physical development of the city’s landscape. This draws upon an impressive legacy that is all around Hamilton, from the incredible built heritage in our downtowns, to stunning planned neighbourhoods such as Westdale, to the uniquely designed natural landscapes including Gage Park and the Royal Botanical Gardens. This tradition continues today with redevelopment of key assets such as the Lister Block, the renovation of the Art Gallery of Hamilton designed by Hamilton-born architect Bruce Kuwabara, the renewal of City Hall, and the revitalization of the Downtown Farmer’s Market and Public Library which is designed by one of the city’s newer architectural firms, dp.Ai. Other firms such as TCA | Thier + Curran, McCallum Sather, Garwood Jones & Hanham, and additional members of the Hamilton and Burlington Society of Architects contribute to a diverse and creative architecture scene. The City of Hamilton understands that a vibrant design sector creates quality living and working environments and is promoting excellence in design through its Urban Design and Architecture Awards.
Graphic design, publishing, and communications businesses have also seen growth in recent years especially with the development of newer technologies that have enabled broader use of broadband networks for tools such as internet publishing and digital media. Hamilton-based NetAccess Systems Inc. started back in the early 1990s and is one of Canada’s oldest remaining independent Internet Service Providers. Today firms like Factor[e] Design Initiative, Kite String, 2Gen.net, Wishart, Community Centre for Media Arts, The Print Studio, and Imagination Plus are part of a scene that harnesses new technology to create and communicate more effectively. These firms are also part of districts of creative businesses that are emerging on the urban landscape in areas such as James Street North, James Street South, and Locke Street South.
Hamilton as a Creative Magnet
The growth of Hamilton’s creative cluster has been a noticeable trend over the past few years. Beyond local press coverage, it has caught the eye of the regional and national press a number of times and has garnered strong support in the community. The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Toronto Life, CBC Radio, among others, have focused new interest on the growing arts and culture scene in Hamilton: