Category Archives: Uncategorized

Things We Like – Kitchens

The JMA team had another great day exploring “Things We Like” for kitchen designs! Each member of the office brought in their favourite kitchen photos that brought beauty, functionality, and unique features to each space.

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David chose a kitchen in a post-victorian home with a clean design and a strong relationship to the exterior.

The Prinseneiland House

Matt selected a kitchen that combines materials to open up space and extend visual lines.

Jamil 10 11 2017

Jamil gave us a glimpse of his childhood kitchen in Israel that his father built. From the window he could see who went by, including friends and relatives.

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Maria’s kitchen combines rustic and industrial materials.

Melhik Kitchen crop

Melhik brought a futuristic circular kitchen hub.

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John’s kitchen showed us an L shaped island to combine a prep and eating area in a brightly lit space.

Margaret kitchen crop

Margaret’s kitchen makes the most of the tight space. The large window gives a focus to the room and expands the space.

Elyn Kitchen crop

Elyn’s kitchen is fashioned after the commercial kitchen model, with space dedicated to different tasks.

mila kitchen crop for blog

Mila liked this bright kitchen of pale woods and capitalized on the design potential of architectural language of kitchens.

LED kitchen

Julie’s eccentric taste in designs brought her to pick a classic kitchen layout with a punch of colour from LED lighting.

We want to hear about Things You Like! Leave a comment below on your favourite types of kitchen designs!

 

 

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Miigwech Nibi (Anishinaabe for “Thank you water”)

Here at JMA, we’ve decided to have some fun by participating in the City of Kitchener’s Neighbourhood Placemaking Challenge. We’re looking at one of the founding community locations in our City, and have proposed a preliminary design to enhance a focal point at the trail / pedestrian / cycling crossing of Queen Street South, and explore the history of the place. If our Placemaking Challenge application is successful, next steps involve working with neighbours, stakeholders, and the surrounding uses and destinations, including Schneider Haus and the Queen’s Green Community Garden, to explore these possibilities further.

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Many of us are not aware of the significant aboriginal and non-aboriginal patterns of movement and settlement within our community, and in particular at this Queen Street location. The presence of Schneider Creek, as it flows from Victoria Park Lake under the roadway and onwards to the Grand River, is also not part of our everyday experience of the City.

The laminar flow fountain brings the idea of water back into the public realm. It will act as a focus for the crossings and help to transform the streetscape into an interesting and vibrant place in our community. This transformation will benefit all users and neighbours, and will celebrate the importance of water to our community. It will also make more apparent the story of Joseph and Barbara Schneider, who came from Pennsylvania to build homestead and mill at this location. We have named the intervention Miigwech Nibi (thank you water) in honour of the historic aboriginal trail that followed the creek, and our First Nations’ holistic view of water and stewardship of our planet.

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The laminar flow fountain can be programmed for continuous operation (creating an arch that “frames” the street) or intermittent operation (creating the sense of a jumping “fish”). By using programmable LED lighting for nighttime use, the fun and effects can be further explored and enjoyed. The final design might be one or several fountain streams, but the idea is to create “arches over Queen Street” so that this sense of connection, of  “leap”, and of celebration, is the focal point of an enhanced place for pedestrians and road users.

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We hope that this project and design can change perceptions and relations among pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, and create a sense of place for this important intersection of cultures, people, and history.

As the project and design move forward, we wish to engage everyone:

John MacDonald Architect (Business)

Queen’s Green Community Garden (Community group)

REEP (Business / Environmental group)

The Schneider Creek Neighbourhood Working Group (Neighbourhood group)

The Victoria Park Neighbourhood Association (Neighbourhood group)

Local businesses at Mitchell and Queen Street (Business owners)

Polocorp (Business at 379 Queen St. S. and developers of Barra Castle)

You!!!

Tell us what you think, should Kitchener implement the idea of having a water fountain over Queen Street South?

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To Buy or to Build?

For the past ten months my fiancé and I have been submerged in the housing market. The frustration, disappointment, excitement, and prices have all been a little overwhelming and I thought I would share my experience.

As a first time home buyer the process of buying a home is a little confusing and as the largest purchase I have ever made, I wanted to be sure we picked the right one. We saved up our downpayment and with our realtor went shopping. In our price range we found very little that met our expectations, most homes needed major renovations, which we wouldn’t have the money for after buying the house. So we decided to increase our budget a little, sadly we where met with the same situation. We knew we would have to do some work to make the home our own, but we were met with homes that needed total renovations, needing some combination of a new kitchen, walls removed, new floors and bathroom guts. Any large renovations were not something we were willing to under take with our up coming wedding, and our housing budget maxed on the cost of the home.

After viewing countless homes in many different neighbourhoods a family member suggested we look at a new build in a brand new subdivision. I was sceptical, I hate subdivisions, on the outskirts of town, so disconnected, nothing within walking distance, all the houses look the same, little or no parks or public spaces, and the homes themselves are not very architecturally pleasing. Despite my objections my fiancé convinced me to keep an open mind.

We visited the sales centre, and yes the street and the exterior of the homes lacked character, but the interior was beautiful, a far cry from the homes we saw with our realtor and on MLS the past seven months. We were shown all the finishing choices and floor plans we could select, we could completely design our home for a price less than our original budget. It was exciting, but I had to take a step back and think about if I could live in an isolated subdivision, turns out for the price, I was willing to give it a shot. After reviewing all the possible floor plans we selected the best option for us and put down our deposit. We bought in during the pre-build phase which meant we where able to make some changes to the floor plan at a very reasonable cost. We where told we could move in on December 11, “Home for the holidays” is what they told us.

Then the set backs came, pushing our closing date back four months. We where renting at the time and could not sign another years lease, we had to move to another residence where we could live month to month. We were very disappointed we would not be “Home for the holidays”, but glad we where not forced into another years lease, even if it meant moving. Then after a few more months of waiting we were contacted by the builder to start making our finishing selections, we were met with disappointment again. Turns out most of the finishes we were told in the sales centre were standard, were not, and we would have to pay extra for these “upgrades”. This gets expensive, we were given one to eight standard options and the rest were upgrades. So, we  mixed  in some upgraded options on things that could not easily be changed or would make for better resale value.

We are still in the process of building and I often think if we would have bought an existing home we would be living there already, slowly making changes to suit our taste. Then I remember the houses we viewed and the amount of renovations they needed to be comfortable. Even with all the set backs I feel we made the right decision for our first home, we just have to remember to keep the upgrades to a minimum. I will keep you posted on the process as we move forward. 

Guest Author: Trena Tataryn

From the Office to the Barn

It was cold and a bit muddy, but it was the most fun we have had at the office all year, okay maybe not exactly “at” the office. JMA closed up shop for a day last week and headed to the International Plowing Match 2012 in Roseville. Our team volunteered our time and muscles to assist the Mennonite Disaster Service in a demonstration of an “old fashion” barn raising, which took place over the course of the Plowing Match within the antique section of the event. The barn was brought in from Paris Ontario for the demonstration and was assembled and disassembled at the event before being transported to it’s final resting place at a private residence in Collingwood.

Our day started out with a very appropriate tractor ride from the parking area to the event grounds, once we where able to find the barn raising site we grabbed our hardhats and waited for instruction among the other volunteers (about 40 in total). Most of us being first time barn raisers listened carefully as we where explained the process. Come 10am it was show time and people begin to gather in the bleachers to watch our efforts. It started with most of us lifting the first positioned frame by hand as high as our arms would let us, yelling “Yo-He” which means hold on “Yo” and lift on “He” (trust me, you do not what to mix that up). A few people pulled on ropes on the opposite side, guided the frame as the rest of us lifted it.

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Once our arms couldn’t push the frame any higher assigned people put the pikes (long piece of timber with a spike in one end) in place, butting them up against the frame.  Once the pikes where set everyone moved out from holding the frame and helped either on the ropes or on pushing the pikes moving the frame up to its vertical position. Once the frame was up and resting on the prepared foundations, the ropes where tied off and nails where hammered into the legs of the frame where they met the foundation.

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This process was continued for the second and third frames, then support beams where raisin by ropes, these beams secured the frames together and where fixed in place with pegs and braces. Over the course of the day we rose 3 frames including their supports, but our work stopped there, since this demonstration was to be completed over the week, we had to leave the rest of other volunteers to complete in the days to come.

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JMA had a great day learning the traditional way to raise a barn. I only wish we could have been there the rest of the week to help finished what we started.

The Perfect Party House

Have you ever wondered what makes one home better for entertaining than another? Why no matter how many times you invite friends over for a get together they never seem to commit, but there they are the next weekend at the house with the pool table, and wet bar. Sure these features are fun, but it’s the space within the home that makes people feel welcome.

Making a few changes to your space can create a more inviting space where your guests can feel comfortable and are more apt to having a good time.

First impressions are important. When you welcome people into your home you want to put your best foot forward. Your entrance should be warm and inviting, clutter free, and large enough for a few people to comfortably remove their outerwear. A good party house has ample shoe storage (you don’t want guests tripping all over each others shoes), as well as an area near the entry where guests can independently get their coats.

The entry is where first and last impressions are formed, so make sure it’s pleasant. Try to take advantage of any nooks and crannies in and around your entry, creating open shelving, or a small closet will make better use of the vertical space allowing you to remove entry consoles, freeing up valuable floor space.

Traffic flow is always important and a party is certainly no exception. The ideal entertaining house is large enough for people to move through freely but maintains intimate and warm areas to converse. These comfortable areas ideally should be created around what one might call a central “hub”. This is a room that connects other key entertaining spaces, like the kitchen, dinning room, patio and living room. This allows for guests to move through the space easily and encourages conversation by creating several intimate social areas while maintaining the traffic flow through the “hub”.

 

Having different areas of the home open for guests to move through also allow them to decide where they feel most comfortable rallying.

Simply re-configuring your rooms can create this type of “hub”; for example it might make more sense for your family room and dinning room to switch places. Also consider any rooms that tend to go unused, maybe removing or partly removing a wall will open up the space to its full potential. Really think about how your spaces are or are not used and take into account the flow, a few small changes can completely change the feel of the space.

Making your guests comfortable is the key to hosting a successful gathering.

A group of guests will always settle in the kitchen. Having high-level seating in this room is the best way to ensure that they are relaxed and don’t feel as if they are looking to be waited on. A kitchen island with pub style stools encourages guests to help with the preparations while they keep you company. If you don’t already have a kitchen island you can put one in, if you have the space. If not consider the option of a movable island.

Think about transitional pieces. If selected correctly, the kitchen island can double as a serving buffet or that wet bar you always wanted.

Think about your home practically, if you have a formal dining room that is never used there’s no point to it. Change it up and create something beautiful in that space instead. Make every public area in your home one that’s comfortable and enjoyable and your guest will never want to leave.

Cheers

Dickens’ Muse Lives Here

Muses inhabit this part of town. Urban myths of the tough and gritty city are born here.  Even though this place is great for raspy voiced poetry, it is not what we want our real city to be like. This harsh streetscape, lined with a mix of businesses that could use a facelift, makes me wonder how it came to this. I would have thought that a mixed use block of tight knit commercial, with residential on the second floor, near two schools,  a church, a supermarket, varied housing, and an assortment of businesses, all within walking distance to each other, would have been enough to help maintain higher standards. Is it that the street’s balance is tilted to accommodate driving, at the expense of walking? Is it that the neighbourhood hasn’t been able to take ownership of its streets? Or is it that it has entered a cycle of neglect that has infected all the pieces that make up the street?

The empty storefront of a second hand clothing store advertises the contradictions of this site with eloquence. Is that decrepit sign of VERSE, with the first E falling down, there to remind us of the poetic potential of urban decay, or is it just falling down and no one cares?

Grand Re-Opening A Huge Success!

This past Saturday June 18th was the grand re-opening of the Harry Class Community Pool and 80th Anniversary. Attended by all three levels of government, community members, members of the design team, construction team, engineering teams and sub trades the day was a huge success! Featuring tours of the newly re-designed facility, a charity BBQ, aquatic demonstrations by local swim clubs, speeches and a free public swim, there was something for everyone! Despite the hot sticky weather, everyone donned their bathing suits and joined us at the pool to soak up the sun and take a dip in the pool.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and supported the charity BBQ! We look forward to your comments on the new facility!

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