Austin Hawkins

Austin Hawkins

Student picks Trail as subject for UBC architectural studies

Hawkins said that Trail has identified itself as having an image problem, but in his eyes, nothing could be further from the truth.


The City of Trail’s struggle to regenerate is fascinating to architect student Austin Hawkins and the reason he chose it as the subject of his master architecture thesis.

Time and again he has been asked, why chose Trail?

“I think the question of “why do you study our city” is indicative of Trail’s trouble with revitalization,” he said.

Hawkins said that Trail has identified itself as having an image problem, but in his eyes, nothing could be further from the truth.

“I don’t study Trail because it is a dirty place,” he said. “It is a beautiful place with an energetic and majestic industry, a ‘castle on the hill’ marking powerful potential.”

Hawkins, a third-year University of British Columbia student, has travelled Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia, and said that the most interesting of conditions occurring in society are “right here in Trail.”

The crux of his study is the interaction of a global enterprise (Teck) with local culture.

Because the most appropriate use of land can only be known by people who live on it, Trail is a perfect example of a place whose local characteristics intertwine with industry on a global scale, he said.

To study the challenges of Trail’s downtown revitalization efforts, Hawkins compiled a vast amount of data, including topography, building plans and photographic documents, to understand the changing conditions in the downtown core.

“The Teck takeover in 2001 was a huge shift and saw decision making move to a global metropolis,” he said. “As a result Trail has become a peripheral city of the industry whereas before it was central.”

Hawkins has completed the research phase of his year-long project and has identified several components to re-design. However, his vision of downtown Trail’s possibilities continue to evolve.

When Hawkins travelled to Trail in February and met with Mayor Dieter Bogs and the Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee to discuss the downtown plan, he was on board with the idea of moving and expanding the library and museum to the empty Eagles lot on the south end of town.

He has since revisited that possibility and shifted his ideas.

“Trail has such a long rich history that is unprecedented from other towns in B.C.” he said.

“I think the museum should be an integral part of the Victoria Street development,” he said.

“The only old building left on that street is the Union Hotel, and in my opinion, that’s an opportunity to keep Trail’s history in the centre of town.”

Additionally, Hawkins has focused on how Trail’s improved air quality and reduction in sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions can spark revitalization in relation to architecture.

Original building facades were designed to keep out SO2 emissions, and now with better air quality, those walls can be opened up.

Hawkins noted that the city could lead the charge and renovate the Trail Memorial Centre by breaking through its concrete exterior wall facing Victoria Street.

“Things have changed,” he said. “With improved air quality further facades can be opened up allowing downtown stores to spill out onto the streets and create better synergy between the businesses.”

Next semester Hawkins will be delving into design work and creating images and models for a presentation of his ideas to the city.

“I think the more people who know about what I have discovered brings great possibilities to the city,” he said. “After all, a city’s future depends most upon its attitude.”

Just Posted

L-R: Patients of Dr. Sarah Tucker, Dr. Trevor Aiken and Dr. Stephanie Cameron must call Columbia Primary Care Clinic at 250.368.9394 to make appointments after July 1. Photo: Submitted
Three doctors at Trail clinic on the move

Drs Tucker, Aiken, and Cameron move to Columbia Primary Care Clinic effective July 1

Kurt Swanson’s dog Kona takes a break from the heat on the Summer Solstice near Cranbrook, B.C. (Kurt Swanson photo)
Very warm temperatures forecast across the Kootenays this weekend

Nelson, Castlegar forecast to hit 39, Cranbrook 37

Fire at the former Alpine Disposal, and now GFL recycling facility, on Hwy 22 South of Trail. Photo taken just before 6 p.m. Monday June 21. Photo: John Piccolo
Industrial fire outside of Trail ravages recycling plant

Photos: The fire is reported to be at the GFL recycling facility

“We all need to consider our lives and how we managed to make our way through society to achieve order and success and how it is that others end up in chaos.” Photo: Dave Lowe/Unsplash
‘There but for fortune, may go you and I … ‘

“Short stays on acute psychiatric units with minimal follow up care are not sufficient,” says Crain.

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Most Read