In conversation with Bruce Kuwabara, founding partner of KPMB Architects & lead architect of Pier 8

Bruce Kuwabara is a founding partner of KPMB Architects, one of Canada’s leading architecture firms. Kuwabara is leading Pier 8’s architectural design team, made of a thoughtfully crafted group of talented, multi-generational firms behind some of our country’s most iconic sites. 

Read below to learn more about Kuwabara, his upbringing in Hamilton, how he grew his career, and more.

You grew up in the North End – can you tell us about that?

My parents were born in British Columbia and settled in Hamilton after they were released from an internment camp in BC. I grew up just five blocks away from Pier 8, and have fond memories of playing basketball and baseball as a child in Eastwood Park, and riding my bike along Lake Ontario and Cootes Paradise.  

Most of who I am today can be credited to who helped me understand what a special place this city is, like teachers at Bennetto Elementary School, who taught me to judge character on trust and authenticity. These principles are ones that I still uphold today. 

What drew you to architecture? 

My interest in architecture dates back to being a child and spending my free time at the Hamilton Central Library. I recall a staff member at the library shared a book about architecture with me, and I was immediately fascinated by it. Today, I credit architecture for giving me a vehicle for understanding what it means to be Canadian.  

What are some of your favourite landmarks in Hamilton?          

I have family members and friends who still live in Hamilton, so I have been back to visit. Returning to the city where I first nurtured my curiosity about architecture and the built environment is a contemplative experience. Architectural landmarks that hold significance include the fountain in Gage Park and the Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge that connects the water and the Niagara Escarpment, both designed by renowned architect John Lyle. When I look at those beautiful landmarks, I reflect on the enormous influence that Lyle had on Hamilton, as one of the most important Canadian architects of the early 20th century. I can only hope to have this same important legacy as Lyle’s with Pier 8.

What does it mean for you to be working on Pier 8? 

Pier 8 is a project that allows me to look to the future while weaving together lessons from my past. It is a privilege to bring everything I know about architecture and city-building back to the place I grew up.