From Parking to Parks

Miracles do happen at City Hall. Not often. But one is unfolding right now. Pay attention. Instead of paving over more of our scarce parkland for vehicle parking, instead of just whining forever about the lack of City park space in our downtown neighborhoods … our parks dept has actually agreed to expand a park onto the road allowance. And removing some vehicle parking too! Yes, this miraculous green space expansion is happening right here in little ole’ Ottawa. Chaudiere Park is a small pocket park on Elm Street in West Side Ottawa. The proposed expansion replaces on-street parking with a … Continue reading From Parking to Parks

Real entrances or planner’s fakes?

It is popular today that the base level of apartment buildings be visually separate from the tower above, through the use of a real three-dimensional podium, or too often in Ottawa: a drawn-on one. A further refinement is to have separate uses for the ground floor. On traditional main streets, this is usually commercial storefronts. The original Centretown plan required these on side streets too, which gives the area on both sides of Elgin such a unique atmosphere, as there are little storefronts, often with marginal businesses that cannot afford the increasingly-franchise-cluttered main street rents. Alas, what the Centretown plan cleverly called for, the … Continue reading Real entrances or planner’s fakes?

Westboro tizzy (ii)

Well, that Westboro post of a few days ago certainly got the juices going of a number of readers who took time to construct clever and insightful responses. The “comments”  that follow that post are a goldmine of intelligent views. Do read them if you haven’t yet. One wise reader send me the following link which features a “case study” of a low-rise high-density infill, with the suggestion that the developer at Roosevelt should have tried harder to build within the zoning and height limit. I read the CMHC review of Arbutus Walk, and will add it to my bucket list of … Continue reading Westboro tizzy (ii)

What should go at street level? (part iii – more good)

Continuing on the theme of what should go on the ground floor of new condo buildings in the downtown neighborhoods, it is easy to criticize the faults of what was built. But what about some examples of good stuff? It’s pretty easy on main streets: put in commercial space. The building is going to be there for a 100 years or more, the downtown neighborhoods are most likely to get busier, and such space will be in demand for much of the next century. Domicile’s Piccadilly building on West Wellington is pretty typical. It is currently two storefronts, but is doored and set … Continue reading What should go at street level? (part iii – more good)

More Life on LeBreton Flats

The second phase of the Claridge project on the Flats is now being occupied by residents. Note just in front of the moving van, the ground floor patio has furniture on it and blanket-drapes. I was interested to note that the low-rise building has balcony railings that are glass above a metal panel, which hides some of the balcony clutter and reduces nosey people (like me) looking in. The balconies on the first phase on the opposite side of the courtyard are all glass. I prefer the Beaver Barracks solution shown a few posts back, where the top half of the glass … Continue reading More Life on LeBreton Flats

Beaver Barracks: dialing for dollar$

The Beaver Barracks project has some elderly neighbours. This adds interest to the views, and avoids that “all built at once” project look. The bottom part of the balcony railing is frosted, giving the inside of the units more privacy, and concealing from streetview the junk that always accumulates on balconies. The whole project is heated by geothermal energy. Hundreds of wells were drilled under the site. A closed-loop system transfers heat up from the ground and circulates it to the units. In the summer time, it pulls heat out of the apartments and puts it back into the ground. The units are … Continue reading Beaver Barracks: dialing for dollar$

Thatched roof on the Beaver

Make no mistake, the buildings are tightly packed in on the Beaver Barracks site. Every inch counts, including the roofs. There are some large roof patios. The railings are made of glass, to maximize the views and break the wind. Most of the roof is planted with sedums and grasses in shallow planter beds. In addition to the building’s planters, there are planter boxes for use by tenants, and even a potting shed/room with running water.   Also the roof has access to the top of the “round” turret that graces the south-east side of the building. Thus far, the room … Continue reading Thatched roof on the Beaver

The Common Beaver

Another post in the continuing series exploring the Beaver Barracks development by CCOC. Here are some shots of the common areas: The bike room is right inside the front door of the lobby. It maximizes convenience for cyclists, so they are more likely to take the bike than go to the garage. It is generously large as many tenants will not have a personal car. The hyper-tidy laundry room is on the main floor by the back lobby. Big windows allow parents to supervise outside play; and outside people to over-see the laundry. More eyes = more safety. There will … Continue reading The Common Beaver

Interior of the Beaver

The lobby area of the Beaver Barracks building on Metcalfe features a large common room and kitchen to cater to events, parties, and cooking lessons: The sloped wood ceiling is made of reclaimed wood. Several large trees were cut down on the site last year. That wood was augmented by some wood reclaimed from the Ottawa River. They were milled into rough-cut boards to make ceiling panels like above. The main lobby also has these ceiling panels. They look great from a distance, but personally I felt they were a bit too rough and crude, too “packing-crate” for my liking. Here is the interior … Continue reading Interior of the Beaver

More good news

Continuing the story of the Beaver Barracks development, the tallest apartment building is at 464 Metcalfe. It is a familiar sight to motorists from the Queensway or Catherine Street: The exterior of the building is broken up into several components to reduce its apparent mass and height. The round “turret” at the right corner intrigues the eye; there will be an interior shot in a subsequent post.  Notice the glass garage door and commercial storefront appearance of the ground floor. It is the new ambulance station, built right in under the building. An interesting safety feature: the garage is drive-through. Returning ambulances … Continue reading More good news

And now, some good development news

There are plenty of horror stories about proposed and actually constructed buildings. But it is not all bad news. Amongst the dross, there is some gold to be found. It is time to focus on some good developments. The subject of a number of posts over the next week will be the Beaver Barracks story. The project is named after the former military barracks on that site. It is located on the west side of Metcalfe Street at Catherine (the Queensway), ie immediately west of the Police Station and south of the Canadian Museum of Nature. The developer is CCOC, the … Continue reading And now, some good development news