What’s Wrong With The New City Hall?

There is a gulf between the security desk at Windsor's new city hall and council chamber.<br>Photo by Ian Shalapata.

There is a gulf between the security desk at Windsor’s new city hall and council chamber.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

A municipal council chamber must be referenced as the pearl in the oyster shell. It is the focus of what must be a highly visible symbol of the democratic process at work.

Departmental support initiates process, evaluates issues, and structures recommendations to pass matters of public interest onto a municipal council for decision. The work ethic toward production and recommendation is a physical ascension reflected in building design.

It is the focal point that reflects a thought process toward evolving pride in the community it serves. Consider cupped hands in adjacent administrative towers cradling the egg that gives birth to the legislative or decision making goal.

Toronto City Hall is the prime example. There are others which gestated successful creation of the significance of the city hall council chamber in that is symbolic in its association with the municipality in which it exists. Physical appearance, location, security, and close association with required amenities are vital to its operations.

The expansive lobby space at Windsor's new city hall creates a chasm between security (to the left of the steps) and council chamber.Photo by Ian Shalapata.

The expansive lobby space at Windsor’s new city hall creates a chasm between security (to the left of the steps) and council chamber.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Windsor?

The council chamber is tucked into the arm pit of the main building’s entry portal. It’s a walk-by side show physical experience, not a destination point. Every department that makes it work lies beyond. Ease of immediate access and departure will generate issues.

The concept of user security does not exist since it is remote and security personnel cannot monitor who comes and leaves council chamber under crowded conditions.

The council chamber/lobby glazed screen, which forms the sight line for the political faction rendering decisions, is a distraction to what is supposed to take place within. The council chamber is a gawker’s delight as situated in the lobby within the main pedestrian traffic corridor pathway for entry and exiting the building.

Visually, it has no exterior identity. The blue wall foil on the old existing building, enclosing cramped quarters, at least reflected the process of what lay within.

Council should, at least, consider improvements by moving the main building entrance east, closer to security, and granting some degree of privacy to the foyer crush space on exit from council chamber. Another glass screen might also be considered to secure and define the crush area.

About the Author

William Kachmaryk, Sr
William Kachmaryk, is an architect and member of the Ontario Association of Architects. He has extensive work experience in both Canada and the United States and was the original architect of the Pelissier Street parking garage in Windsor.