Signs of hope for affordable housing
Creating community at McQuesten Lofts with Indwell
Indwell is a Hamilton-based charity that creates affordable housing communities that support people seeking health, wellness and belonging. They house over 700 tenants in over 650 households in Hamilton, Woodstock, Simcoe, and London. They have been serving the community for the past 47 years. Indwell has grown from a single location in 1974 known as “The Homestead”, to 13 locations across Ontario, with plans of more to come.
Morse & Associates was thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the signage strategy and execution for Indwell’s McQuesten Lofts located in East Hamilton. The McQuesten Lofts feature two separate buildings, 256 Parkdale Avenue North, completed in December of 2020, and 205 Melvin Avenue, a renovation completed in 2018. These landmark buildings now provide affordable housing for more than 120 people and have become a beacon of civic inclusion in their neighborhood. The Parkdale Branch of Hamilton Public Library is incorporated directly into 256 Parkdale Avenue North.
Indwell counts on Morse & Associates to provide thoughtful and professional signage advice and execution into their projects. The McQuesten Lofts feature several highlight signage elements that connect the buildings to the community.
Indwell’s hope is that their residents are proud of where they live and that they feel the same sense of pride when they pass the Indwell logo at the entry point of 256 Parkdale Avenue. Returning home is meant to be a comforting & positive experience for residents that is a reminder there is a community that cares for and respects them. Morse & Associates ensured the proper design, cutting, & mounting of the Indwell logo and lettering to the exterior concrete panels.
A LOCAL LANDMARK
Through the use of oversized address numerals on an architectural design that mirrors shipping containers, Morse & Associates aligned with Invizij Architects to express an aesthetic vision reflective of Hamilton’s industrial corridor just down the road. Morse & Associates used their expert knowledge of signage + graphics application to revise the original plans of directly painting the numerals to the steel cladding to long lasting vinyl instead. A polished final product was achieved using expert installation contractors.
Hamilton Public Library is an innovative organization that provides a wide diversity of services to the community. The special placement of the new neighbourhood Parkdale Branch directly inside McQuesten Lofts is a vivid symbol that the Lofts are a place for inspiration and growth. Morse & Associates coordinated with the project builder to place a power line needed to illuminate the sign box at the entrance to the branch, and worked to coordinate the installation of the signage, which shines as a beacon welcoming the broader community to the facility.
A SIGN YOU
Indwell is a respected and trusted affordable community builder whose brand stands for care and belonging. Their logo is prominently displayed at McQuesten Lofts as a custom silver sign. Working with production partners, Morse & Associates designed, cut, and mounted individual letters to the roofline of each building. The team worked through unique challenges with the corrugated steel cladding using a special fastening method at the renovated Melvin Avenue building to compensate for 8 inches of insulation placed between the original brick wall and steel cladding.
The McQuesten Lofts are a thoughtful project with many layers of meaning and complexity. In addition to Indwell, Morse & Associates worked closely with Invizij Architects on building specifications and design as well as construction managers Schilthuis Construction, and multiple specialist contractors, to ensure a high quality outcome.
Morse & Associates hired a structural engineering firm to review and stamp shop drawings, and also obtained necessary permits by preparing and submitting applications as required. Engineering and execution complexities were resolved such as coordinating the use of installation vehicles and equipment, ensuring appropriate weather conditions for adhesion, and managing road closures. Overall, Morse & Associates ensured that all pricing and subcontracting activities were aligned and transparent.
Many unique decisions and elements made this project a success. Morse & Associates helped reduce building costs while maintaining the appearance of key signage elements by incorporating flat cut acrylic letters as a replacement for the original concept. They also changed the size of signage to remain compliant with the City of Hamilton’s regulations and by-laws. As always, all COVID-19 safety protocols were carefully observed to ensure the safety of all residents and project stakeholders.
Words from a visionary partner
Director of Projects and Development at Indwell
The buildings at McQuesten Lofts were some of the most dilapidated and unsafe in the city. We’re incredibly proud that this transformational project not only provides safe and affordable housing for members of our community, but also contributes vitality and inspiration to a neighbourhood.
This is one of numerous projects we have worked on with Morse & Associates. They are creative, professional, and reliable. I see signage + graphics as very important elements of architectural design in that they literally and figuratively help the viewer understand, interpret, and appreciate the significance of a building. We look forward to working with Morse & Associates again on future projects and leveraging their flexibility, planning expertise, and enthusiasm as project partners.