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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, September 27, 2023
NOTL wins three major design awards
President of Spirit in Niagara Arnie Lepp made sure that the property's exterior design evoked a homey, approachable feeling. Julia Sacco

Museum, Spirit in Niagara Distillery, Gardens at Pillar & Post all honoured


Niagara-on-the-Lake is known for its historic architecture and beautiful details, so it comes as no surprise that three of the town’s design efforts were recognized at the Niagara Biennial Design Awards on Tuesday night. 

Spirit in Niagara Distillery, the Gardens at Pillar & Post and the NOTL Museum’s Poppy Project all took home outstanding achievement awards in architecture, landscape architecture and outdoor art respectively. 

“Having this, where we can pat people on the back for the excellent work they do, have the jury report give them an award they can put in their office, it’s good for everyone because we want to raise the bar and have excellent design,” said project lead Julia van der Laan de Vries.

“Everyone wins, I think.”

Museum curator Sarah Kaufman and engagement co-ordinator Barbara Worthy accepted the award for the museum’s Poppy Project.

It was recognized for its “visually impressive design, with attention to lighting and spatial properties,” as well as “leaving a lasting impression that is poignant,” the jury said.

The massive Poppy Project included thousands of handmade poppies that were hung outside the Court House and the museum.

Worthy and Kaufman extended their thanks for the “thousands of hours of hand labour put in by more than 40 volunteers.”

“We are so honoured that they saw the value in commemoration and the value in community spirit,” Kaufman said. 

“We couldn’t have done it without the Davey Tree Service, our partnership with the town and the Legion,” said Worthy.

“We may be the captain but we all know the footsoldiers do all the work.”

Spirit in Niagara Distillery on Lakeshore Road won for its excellence in architecture, specifically its “reflection on Niagara’s architectural heritage” and “many sustainable aspects,” the judges said.

Company president Arnie Lepp was incredibly proud to accept the award for something that he was so passionately involved in.

“I don’t really want to use the word honoured, because it’s a lot more than that. It’s the final line of a long story and it gives you some kind of validation of what we did here,” said Lepp. 

With Spirit in Niagara, Lepp hoped to create a space that was approachable and looked like a home, drawing inspiration from 1800s limestone homes on Queenston Road.

Sustainability was also in mind in the design of the site, down to the use of an old barn on the property in the design and manufacturing of the new space, to recycling vintage furniture pieces from Habitat for Humanity. 

“Everything here is a personal thing,” Lepp said.

Similarly, the Gardens at Pillar & Post were recognized for their effective design and for evoking “the hospitality and culture of Niagara and the residential estate landscape heritage of Niagara-on-the-Lake.”

John Redekop, project manager at ACK Architects, was part of the large team that accepted the award for the Gardens and expressed how great it was to celebrate great work in design. 

“What’s really nice is that it’s in person, we used to have the Community Design Awards that we went to yearly and those were cancelled for around four years. It’s great to see everyone again,” he said. 

NOTL Regional Coun. Andrea Kaiser was on hand to support the awards.

“It felt right to come out as a new councillor to support and to learn more about the developments and design that’s going on,” she said.

“I am so thankful. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. It’s corny but it’s true.”

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