So how does a lover of architecture, history and photography like Karl Kessler make himself happy? One way is to be the coordinator of Doors Open Waterloo Region for the last 11 years.
Karl and his wife Jane Snyder coordinate this day of architecture and heritage appreciation on behalf of the Region of Waterloo. And Saturday, September 20 is the next Doors Open event – check out the site listings and start planning your Saturday.
This year, there are 41 architectural sites scattered across Waterloo Region, many of which offer access to places never open to the public. “People drive or walk by a building, occasionally wondering what happens inside, but often just take its presence for granted,” says Karl. “Doors Open is an amazing opportunity to think about buildings differently.” And of course for those who are innately curious like me, seeing inside a space you normally don’t have access to, can make any curious cat satisfied.
After 11 years planning every element of this event, what has been a constant delight for Karl is how visitors appreciate the site hosts. “The hosts might be site owners, staff or volunteers who use the space, and the feedback we receive is that they are warm and gracious, and their love of the building, its details and history make it come alive for the visitors,” says Karl.
Karl has of course seen all 41 sites but there are two that he is particularly excited about this time: the AirBoss factory in Waterloo and the Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge. One is a 100-year old tire factory with a million square feet of space now in operation as a rubber factory, and the other is a new theatre with a beautiful facade and airy lobby, offering sneak peeks into the backstage and costume areas. The two buildings are deeply contrasted in style, size and function and that is part of the appeal for Karl. But there are architectural delights for everyone’s taste, kiddos included (think Martins Family Fruit Farm or Region of Waterloo International Airport).
Karl sees buildings as rather photogenic and capitalizing on local photographers who love to use this event as a way to get some amazing shots, Doors Open Waterloo Region has a Flickr group where people can upload their photos from the day. “This is an excellent way for us to get some wonderful images for event promotion, see the sites from different artistic perspectives and give photographers a venue for their work,” he says.
And if you like storytelling and photography a bit more than architecture, Karl is also prepping for an upcoming photography exhibit at the City of Waterloo Museum: Overtime: Portraits of Perseverance at Work. He and Sunshine Chen interviewed and photographed dozens of people from vanishing professions and cultural traditions to capture the remaining practitioners of these fading practices. The exhibit runs from October 8, 2014 – January 30, 2015. You can also catch Karl this fall at the Waterloo Region Museum where he will be presenting on his vanishing trades project as part of a speaker series.
P.S. Karl’s favourite topic of conversation: any topic where he can have a good-natured debate.