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Gage Park Greenhouse wins Hamilton Urban Design Award

Winner of Hamilton’s Urban Design Award the 14,000 SF Gage Park Greenhouse replaced a nondescript building which held Hamilton’s collection of tropical plants, with a transformative design nestled within the southern corner of Gage Park’s historic landscape. The wood glulam, moment frame structure is the largest in Canada. A free, fully accessible destination, it allows visitors from all socio-economic backgrounds, access to a year-round tropical environment. The design prioritizes a visual connection to the escarpment and existing amphitheatre. A two step grassed landscape feature creates the opportunity for a host of new uses. On the west side, a two step landscaped theatre creates a new venue. Inside, towering palms will stretch to the rooftops of the structure, wide steps double as seating, and a circular path invites visitors to discover new species of plants, turtle, quail and coy habitats. It has spurred civic pride, hosting over 20,000 local and international guests since its opening in March.

The free and fully accessible space appeals to a broad cross section of the population, attracting 3,600 visitors in an average month. The space is filled with life, including a variety of plants and trees, a colony of button quail, turtles, coy and insects – a self-sustaining mini-ecosystem. The contrast of this tropical climate is most striking in winter, acting as a respite. Interactive water features and glass covered pathways add layers of interest.

The uniqueness of the structure makes this a notable example of timber frame construction. Specifically, the PRIVA system represents an innovative use of technology, the brain of the greenhouse, controlling humidity, venting, light and shading with automated sensors. By sourcing local materials, including cedar accents, and Niagara made Natural Canadian Stone, we consider the sustainability of our choices and connect the materiality of the design with the escarpment views. Greenhouses are energy and water intensive, therefore we built systems to collect water naturally, filtering it and feeding it back into the fogging systems and water features. The PRIVA system further adds to the adaptability and resiliency of the design.