Since 1970, our rigorous and well-focused two-year Master of Planning (M.PL.) program allows our students to develop the knowledge and skills they require to become leaders in the planning field and to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving urban environment.
The Downtown and Harbour Area of Kingston is a remarkable urban artifact. It continues to be an active commercial centre for the entire Kingston region, as it has been for two centuries. At the same time, it is one of Canada’s most well preserved heritage areas, possessing a great legacy of historic buildings, many of which have been lovingly restored and preserved, and a central grouping of which are now protected by designation in the Market Square Heritage Conservation District.
Kingston’s core urban area includes buildings that date from early 1800s. But the City’s street grid pattern, undertaken hastily in the late 1700s in anticipation of the arrival of United Empire Loyalists from the United State, endures as a legacy of British land surveyors. The present character of the City’s historic core took initial form between 1841 and 1867. During this period the City was briefly named the capital of the Province of Canada. This resulted in a flurry of high quality buildings designed by some of the best architects of the day.
Today the challenge is to retain Kingston’s rich heritage, but also move forward with new developments and projects suited to the post-industrial economy of the 21st century. The urban core provides a comfortable human scale with numerous courtyards, the market square – where local agricultural produce can be purchased, a surprisingly vast array of restaurants serving cuisines from around the world, numerous shops, traditional pubs to modern night clubs. In fact at one of the many traditional downtown pubs you may encounter a professor who, if offered a pint or two, will regale you with stories of his youthful adventures.
The urban core represents the City’s identity and character that stands in marked contrast to the placelessness that pervades much of the City’s newer suburban development. Thus, the City has invested much time, effort, and funds to ensure that its historic core properly blends the 19th Century urban fabric with a modern 21st century vibe. Thus, the City of Kingston has commissioned a number of outstanding reports and studies completed by renowned architects and planners.
The Downtown Action Plan outlines a strategy for the Princess Street commercial streetscape, the Historic District between Brock and Johnson Streets, the redevelopment lands of the North Block and Block ‘D’ and, lastly, the Waterfront. Traveling down Johnson Street offers the unique experience of observing over 100 years of changing housing form and style.
In addition to the Downtown Action Plan, the City of Kingston recently commissioned Downtown and Harbour Area Architectural Guidelines Study, which contains an extensive evaluation and recommendations regarding the architectural character of the City’s urban core. Baird Sampson Neuert Architects Inc, assisted by Carl Bray, Heritage Consultant, and Cathy Gravely of the planning firm Sorensen Gravely Lowes, has prepared this study.
In October of 2002, Baird Sampson Neuert Architects Inc, in association with a group of subconsultants, was commissioned by the City of Kingston to undertake a study of four and a half key blocks in downtown Kingston. The final report shows that a wide range of development possibilities exist for the 4 ½ block study area, and with suitable urban design guidelines as outlined in the pages which follow, those developments will strengthen the downtown of Kingston, in a form which complements its distinctive heritage character.
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