King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project

Project Award

The City of Hamilton has completed a Public Art process to commission a permanent public art work to be located at the corner of King William Street and James Street North. The volunteer citizen jury has selected the work Wood Gate by artist-led Team Make as the winning proposal. Read the King William Street Beacon and Gate Jury Report (PDF, 82 KB) for details of the Jury rationale and discussion. Installation is anticipated for the summer of 2021.

Concept Statement

The City of Hamilton has undergone substantial transformation to re-define itself as a cultural center after a long history as an industrial leader. A once utilitarian town has flourished into a gathering place for the arts, culture, hospitality and entertainment sectors. We believe engineered wood is the steel of the 21st century and our proposal celebrates Hamilton’s transformation by creating a new public space that integrates a bold wooden sculpture acting as a beacon and meeting point for the evolving King William District.

Our proposal, Wood Gate, will offset the hardness of the urban streetscape by creating a tall, wooden sculpture and gateway that commemorates King William Street as an activated zone for community-based engagement and activity. Wood Gate resembles a tall tree trunk struck by lighting with radial branches concealing a gate which can be lowered to act as a vehicular barrier across King William Street.

Team make rendering

Key features include:

Gate Operation
The retractable gate is designed using a simple pulley system with a built-in safety locking system to prevent free fall movement. When the gate is not in use, the pulley system is locked.

Public Seating
A public seating bench is integrated into the North side of King William Street to encourage the public to sit and engage with one another. In addition, the seating bench integrates the gate locking rest to avoid movement when the gate is lowered.

Integrated lighting will showcase the dynamic formation of the art piece at night, provide visibility for evening use and acts as a physical marker anchoring the corner of King William Street and James Street. When the gate is being lowered for street closure, the lighting can be switched to a red flashing light signaling caution for public safety.

Use of Wood
Wood Gate takes advantage of new advancements made in the wood industry to improve durability and strength for outdoor use. The sculpture arms are made of laminated wood members, carved, and fastened together to create the dramatic formation; an acetylated wood product specifically engineered for exterior use.

Public Opinion Survey Results

The survey has now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated. Please review the public opinion survey results (PDF, 340 KB)

Call for Artists

The Call for Artists closed February 27, 2020. 43 proposals were received from 33 artists. Stage 2 of the Competition closed July 17, 2020. 6 detailed proposals were received from 6 artists or artist-led teams.

The City of Hamilton is seeking Artists and Artist-led teams to submit proposals for a permanent public art work at the corner of King William Street and James Street North in downtown Hamilton. The work will replace an existing light standard, may be illuminated and shall incorporate a gate feature that can temporarily close the street to vehicular traffic for special events.

King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists (PDF, 286 KB)
King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists Appendix A – Submission Form (PDF, 94 KB)
King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists Appendix B – Site & Context (PDF, 3.7 MB)
King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists Appendix C – Materials & Methods (PDF, 91 KB)​
King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists Appendix D – Artist Agreement (PDF, 167 KB)​

King William Street Beacon and Gate Public Art Project Call for Artists Addenda 1 (PDF, 128 KB)

Focus Group

A Focus Group was held on February 26, 2019 to determine goals and themes that artists will be asked to address in their submissions to this competition.

Date: Tuesday February 26th, 2019
Location: Visitor’s Centre, Lister Block
Time: 2 to 4 pm


  • Susie Braithwaite Executive Director, International Village BIA
  • Suzi Ozer Operations Manager, Downtown Hamilton BIA
  • Evan Apostal Former King William ArtWalk Committee Member
  • Steve Kulakowsky Developer, Core Urban
  • Alix Figliola General Manager, Berkeley North
  • Lorna Zaremba Executive Director, Theatre Aquarius
  • Jason Cassis Co-Owner / CEO, Equal Parts Hospitality
  • Stephanie Vegh Artist/Former King William ArtWalk Committee Member
  • Miranda Floreano McMaster Student, CityLab King William Street Study


  • Matt Webber Co-Owner Berkeley North
  • Luis Meza Owner, Mezza Cafe
  • Anthony Quattrociocchi Yoke Group
  • Silvia Nickerson Artist/Local Resident

City Staff/Advisors

  • Peter Topolovic, Manager, Sustainable Mobility Programs, City of Hamilton
  • Rachel Johnson, Program Coordinator, Sustainable Mobility
  • Don Curry, Health Promotion Specialist, Public Health Services
  • Ciaran Egan, Sustainability / Former McMaster Student, CityLab King William Street Study
  • Jen Anisef, Cultural Projects Specialist, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
  • Meredith Plant, Senior Landscape Architect, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
  • Lauren Anastasi, Administrative Secretary, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
  • Ken Coit, Manager, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects - Facilitator
  • Zahra Awang, Art in Public Places Specialist, Placemaking, Public Art & Projects


This group was brought together to review plans to commission and install a permanent public art work on King William Street and to advise on specific goals and themes for the art work.


The site for the proposed art work(s) is along King William Street from James Street North to Ferguson Street which aligns with the area programmed by the King William ArtWalk Committee until 2014.

Zahra Awang gave a presentation outlining the project background, public art process and context. The public art project is approved in the City of Hamilton Public Art Master Plan (2016) and has an overall budget of $190,000. This amount could fund a large single work or a series of smaller works. A brief overview of the project’s precedent, King William ArtWalk (2014) and its outcomes, were also provided with a summary of aligned initiatives, studies and projected future development in the area.

King William Street’s public art must be sited within the public amenity area between the clear walkway and the street curb, clearing existing street furniture and utilities. Due to space constraints, it was suggested the artwork could be a larger vertical element or a series of smaller works. A redundant street light at the corner of James Street North and King William presents an opportunity to utilize existing foundations and provide power to allow for a large scale illuminated vertical artwork. With current plans as outlined in the CityLab project for temporary closures of the street to traffic for events and on weekends, the idea of having the artwork function to temporarily close King William Street at James Street North was also presented. An example of a similar vertical element with street gates in Portland was shared along with other relevant examples of public art.


Project Theme
Members of the Focus Group were asked to address the following question as part of a general discussion:

What characteristics of King William Street - past, present and into the future - do we want reflected in the work of artists?

  • King William Street has a 24/7 life
  • Theatre District
  • Performance District
  • People often do dinner in the west end and walk down to Theatre Aquarius in the east end
  • Lighting is a concern along the street, consider lighting as art
  • We already have a series of functional artworks along the street
  • Encourage celebration/events
  • Encourage temporary art along the street
  • Artwork could function as gateway/gate to temporarily close street for events
  • Catherine St N and King William as a potential site for the artwork – vibrancy missing in the middle – artwork could potentially be seen from both James St N and Ferguson Ave N
  • Artwork could create an attraction to the street and build pride
  • Artwork should be about more than food as the street will continue to evolve
  • Whimsical
  • Art work should be Instagram-worthy
  • Should continue with temporary public art projects
  • Should be a destination
  • Vibrant
  • Consider a theme for lighting along the street
  • Artwork should be a landmark entrance to the King William District
  • Theatre ‘beyond the walls’
  • Consider indigenous presence and land recognition
  • Consider bringing the Ferguson Station “railway” design theme to the western end of the street to make connections to the east entrance.
  • The artwork should be illuminated / consider solar-powered
  • The success at the west end may incentivise development to the east.
  • Interactive
  • Hamilton’s 175th is approaching – this could be a subject to celebrate?
  • The art work could signify when the street is closed to traffic for events or play openings or other celebrations.
  • Consider the creation of an art map of the all works along the street to help encourage people to walk the whole district.

Urban Design Issues

In addition to specific discussion about public art, issues relating to the overall development of the street were identified. Recognizing that public art along the street may not directly affect these issues the following were noted:

  • There has been much progress in development along King William Street, especially at the western end, but there still remains a lack of vibrancy and development on the central blocks from Catharine to Walnut. This leaves the Theatre seeming disconnected from the western end of the street.
  • Lighting needs to be improved in the central blocks. It does not feel safe to walk at night. Consider an art work with light that could draw people along the street and provide more lighting in this area.
  • As the street develops, parking will need to be addressed. This will be especially important if regular street closures for events are anticipated.
  • A permanent closure of the street to cars was not supported but temporary closures as noted in the CityLab Study were supported.
  • Structured parking as part of new developments was suggested along with possible valet stations on James for street closures, Staff noted that the city is starting a review of the Parking Strategy and will forward this information to the appropriate staff.
  • A large central art work at Catharine was suggested to visually connect both ends of the street. Staff noted that the space available at that location was very limited. The group generally felt that it would be more effective to reinforce the entrances to the area.


After a short break the group reconvened to review the discussion and seek a consensus. Staff had noted that art, although successful along the street, is only one of many factors required to encourage the new development and street improvements needed to infill the area at the centre of the district. They also noted that it is hoped the new private sector investment at the west end, the interest in programming the street and the development of the new park with a possible future public building will encourage new development at the centre. Given the opportunity for a vertical art work at James and King William and that a series of smaller scale art works already exist along the street it was generally agreed this project would focus on King William and James with a vertical work that may also have a function to close the street for events.

In addition, the group identified what they felt to be the most important concepts. These appear in bold above and are summarized in the goal and characteristics as follows:

The new artwork for King William Street should be a landmark that marks the entrance to the King William Street District and express the character of this evolving area both day and night to those visiting the street and passing on James Street, inviting them to take part in local events, patronize local businesses and the theatre.

The character of King William Street is:

  • Vibrant
  • Active 24/7
  • A place of celebration
  • A place of performance (both formal theatre and on the street)
  • A place for interaction

Next Steps

  • Urban Design issues identified will be shared by Public Art staff with the appropriate staff in street lighting, parking etc. for consideration in all future plans for King William Street.
  • Public Art staff will continue to encourage the installation of temporary and donated smaller scale arts works along the length of the King William ArtWalk area.
  • MobilityLab will support the DHBIA in programming events to activate the street.

A Call for Artists, including the above project goal, site constraints and technical requirements will be issued in the Spring of 2019. At the Focus Group’s request, this call will also include the following background information:

  • History and context of the site
  • Summary of Theatre Aquarius, CityLab/MobilityLab Studies

A jury of citizens, local artists and arts professionals will short list up to six (6) artists’ proposals to be posted on the City website and displayed at the Visitor’s Centre, Tourism Hamilton, for public comment this summer.

The jury will select a winning proposal based on artistic excellence, response to the competition goal, technical concerns and the public response in the Summer of 2019.

Contact Us

Zahra Awang - Art in Public Spaces Project Specialist
Placemaking, Public Art & Projects
Tourism & Culture Division, City of Hamilton
28 James Street North, 2nd Floor
Phone: 905-546-2424 Ext. 7877
Email: [email protected]