Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

Here’s part 2 of the Portland series, from 2015. They did an excellent job of creating lively streets. We haven’t done nearly as well here in Ottawa. Yet the formulas for success are out there. Do note that since this story was first written, Claridge’s Flats project has greatly improved, with benches and gardens and resident participation and involvement growing. (We might look at that in a future story). Alas, the city continues to shun the area, except to collect fees and taxes, but not providing so much as a tot lot for the scads of kids that live there. … Continue reading Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

Fixing the Booth Freeway fiasco

Recall that Booth Street between Albert Street and Wellington Street (out by the War Museum) was rebuilt with a grand overpass over the new LRT line. Before it was built, the design was hotly contested by local communities and advocacy … Continue reading Fixing the Booth Freeway fiasco

Bit of new west side Trillium MUP opens

The existing Trillium multi user pathway (MUP) on the EAST side of the OTrain tracks has been a hit with the commuting and recreational public. Its popularity grows weekly. Less well known is the planning “win” when the community obliged … Continue reading Bit of new west side Trillium MUP opens

Some real ped improvements, and some not

It is good to be (still) living, in a time when transportation is finally focusing on people who walk, people who cycle, and not just people who drive. Yet to come, of course, is any concern for the people living … Continue reading Some real ped improvements, and some not

Claridge’s Icon going up

Claridge’s Icon project at Preston and Carling has reached a new low. The 8 or 9 storey underground parking garage hole has been dug and I hear cement will be pouring before the year is out. The 45 storey, 485′ high condo tower includes several floors of office space in the podium with some retail at grade. This is about twice the height of the next tallest building in the area, Ashcroft’s yellow-brick rectangular student residence building on Champagne, located beside the first glass tower of SOHO Champagne. Ashcroft’s residence will be completed by August 2016, at which point they … Continue reading Claridge’s Icon going up

Building a Better LeBreton, part 9, Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

  The South Waterfront neighbourhood is very well landscaped. Intensively landscaped, with interesting bits of planters, plants, gardens, courtyards, and squares tucked into the smallest corners. The contrast to Ottawa’s LeBreton Flats couldn’t be stronger. Some of this may be due to a milder climate in Oregon. Or a project that has had vegetation in the ground and growing for longer. Or maybe a much more generous budget for greenery. The Flats look good on paper, and on the ground the “right elements” are laid out, but the execution makes me wince and thus far is poorly maintained. The City has … Continue reading Building a Better LeBreton, part 9, Walking Portland’s SouthWaterfront streets

Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

The projected build out of Albert and Chaudiere Islands * starts with the material already at hand, ie the existing buildings. The former brick and stone mill buildings will be converted to commercial uses, starting in 2015. These offer the quickest revenue opportunity for the developer, Windmill, and I imagine it is much easier to attract firms rather than condo residents. Particularly hi-tech-y firms which show a propensity to edgy industrial sites in other cities in part due to their often young employee age group and non-conventional self-image. The first buildings to be converted will most likely be on Albert … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

Building LeBetter Flats, part 4, Distillery & the Isles

That the general public’s view of the current LeBreton build out is less than unenthusiastic is beyond dispute. What is unsetting is how uninformed those views are since they are the too often the product of drive-by planning. As shown in Part 1 of Building LeBetter Flats, actually walking the site, even with landscaping only partially done, yields a much better experience. More amazing is the quick public grab onto the proposed project by Windmill Developments for the adjacent islands in the Ottawa River and the Gatineau shoreline.  It will be wonderful *, more like the magic Distillery District in … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 4, Distillery & the Isles

LeBetter Flats (part 3): when the Senators go marching in …

I hear that the NCC’s proposal call for the next phase of building the Flats was carefully worded to not exclude a major stadium as a land use*. While we may think the current Canadian Tire Place is still “new”, it is ageing. Apparently major arenas and rinks often only have a 30 year or so lifespan before they are functionally obsolete suboptimal. Built in 1993 as the Palladium, it will be 30 years old in 2023. So its not too soon (according to stadium aficionados) to be investigating a new stadium. And that requires a site. The Flats are … Continue reading LeBetter Flats (part 3): when the Senators go marching in …

LeBetter Flats (part 1) Yellow, Brown … silver too

The NCC’s current LeBreton Flats project comes in for a lot of criticism. I think it’s mostly drive-by criticism, with all the scatter gun impreciseness and alienation implied by the term. For some time now I ask people criticizing the yellow brick buildings on the Flats if they have actually walked around them. Naah. Couldn’t bother. We even had a prominent real estate developer criticize them at at community planning meeting and He hadn’t actually been out there. Talk about shoot from the lip. Here’s some pictures that show the buildings from the street and the grounds, but not from … Continue reading LeBetter Flats (part 1) Yellow, Brown … silver too

Condos, no condos, design review

  Condos. No condos. Design review — is it real? Tall Towers are wonderful ! We have it all for you today. The housing market continues to be unsettled on the West Side of downtown Ottawa. House For Sale signs seem to stay up forever. Even For Rent signs malinger in windows and on porch railings till they are weather-beaten to death. After the outgoing Council’s orgy of rezoning on the West Side, Watson’s vaunted “new downtown” forest of high rises in Little Italy is looking rather forlorn. Latest to pack up shop is Nuovo, where i hear the sales … Continue reading Condos, no condos, design review

Three temporary landscapes on the Flats

Last night the NCC held an open house to unveil 3 concepts for landscaping the Beirut  Bagdad  Syrian war zone post-apocalyptic landscape in downtown Ottawa on the south side of the Parkway between Vimy Private (the War Museum entrance road) and Claridge’s condos on LeBreton Flats. It has long been a puzzle to WSA regulars as to why bureaucrats think people would rush to buy homes with such dismal surroundings. So the new NCC, with new Leadership, responding to criticism (not least of which came from their bosses up on the Hill) of the desolate lands, announced a few weeks ago … Continue reading Three temporary landscapes on the Flats

Back lanes: Ugly but Functional access to high rises

As argued here yesterday, too many of our in-process high rises do not have any sort of passenger pick up or drop off facilities. For example, the new Claridge ICON building proposed for 505 Preston at Carling has no driveway. The garage entrance is directly off Norfolk, a side street. The front door faces Preston, onto a merge lane (which is to be lengthened…) for traffic turning onto Preston from Carling or Prince of Wales. How will that merge lane work when a para-transpo van is parked there for 20 minutes at 8am? Since that main entrance also serves several … Continue reading Back lanes: Ugly but Functional access to high rises

Spring Craning

An interesting demonstration of evolving design came to west siders this week courtesy of our high rise developers. Better design is everywhere these days. For that we can credit the popularity of industrial design schools, increased awareness of graphic design elements, and the popularity of design-centric programs on TV and the ‘net. Now we can see it on our skyline by craning our necks. Up on Cathedral Hill, Windmill developments installed their crane for their new condo tower. It is the conventional design. Dare we call it the ‘old fashioned’ design? Notice the complicated support wires, the heavy concrete block … Continue reading Spring Craning

Condomania on Carling: Domicile joins in

Domicile has a proposal winding its way through the bureaucratic maze at City Hall. It’s for a 18 storey condo building on Rochester Street, between the Queensway and Carling Avenue, near Dow’s Lake. Here’s what the street looks like now: Domicile owns the lot running from Pamilla Street and Rochester (the intersection in the foreground) all along Rochester to the red brick wall of a 3 1/2 storey low rise.  Domicile already has permission to demolish the elderly house in the middle . Here’s an aerial view of the lot set within the south Dalhousie neighborhood: The Queensway runs east-west across the … Continue reading Condomania on Carling: Domicile joins in

Charettes — or is it charades? — on the west side

The City of Ottawa’s CDP on the Bayview-Carling area has long been an embarrassment. Not that its key worker bee has been lacking, but rather that the city has endlessly unfunded it, delayed it, postponed it, and frustrated it, while many of the prime lots have been spot rezoned, frequently from a two or four storey height to twenty, thirty, and now forty+ stories. But there are many more sites yet to be rezoned, and the developers are lined up four deep for rezoning, so the City flew in its favourite swat team Urban Strategies, of Toronto. Here are some impressions of the George Dark — … Continue reading Charettes — or is it charades? — on the west side

Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

Preston Street is an odd mainstreet, in that it has minimal hinterland of dense residential development. Hintonburg’s and Westboro’s main street areas are more densely built up and have large catchment areas on all sides with a mix of low-rise and high-rise built form. Preston lost its eastern residential areas when 50’s urban renewal wiped out existing urban fabric to replace it with commuter office towers (NRCan), a commuter high school (Commerce, now Adult HS), and a commercial strip predicated on a city-wide market (the ethnic Italian community) rather than an indigenous market. Thus merchants champion converting housing to parking lots, and since the merchants rarely live in the neighborhood, might be more easily convinced of … Continue reading Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

What condo buyers see

There’s a big flurry of condos going in around the Preston – OTrain corridor. There are obvious attractions, such as shopping and dining on the traditional main streets (Preston and Somerset/West Wellington). And easy access to the numbers one and two employment centres (downtown, Tunney’s Pasture) and minor ones such as NRCan, Agriculture, or Gatineau. And being on one or both of the  two major passenger rail transit lines, and Carling Avenue/Queensway for motorists. But what will the residents see? Alas, I am unable to hold my camera up 23 stories, let alone 42, but here are some pictures from the top of … Continue reading What condo buyers see

Owning the Podium

Much of Ottawa’s current discussion about high rises focusses on the podium, or base of the building. In theory, the wider larger base is all the pedestrian sees, and the thin elegant glass tower floats off into the sky after a generous set back. Of course, this requires a fairly large lot or thin tower. What we increasingly see are small lot edifices, where either the tower is too fat for the base, or the podium effect is just sort of drawn onto the tower by a few horizontal bits of concrete trim. I stopped recently to look at the successfully done podium … Continue reading Owning the Podium

Height that you wish for …

At public meetings and in media discussions about how high is high enough, a frequent lament heard goes something like “it would be alright over there [insert name of place far from the person making the comment], but not here.” For years, the Councillor and community groups working on the LeBreton Flats plans fought for an essentially low rise community. The final height limit for most of the buildings is seven stories (just like Paris !), with some towers on podiums extending to fourteen (not like Paris!).  The first phase, just built, has two towers on a very large seven story podium. … Continue reading Height that you wish for …