Queensview Station Crossing (part iii)

In the West End, the Confederation Line LRT will eventually extend to Lincoln Fields, then along Pinecrest Creek (where the transitway is) and it will split into two directions from a point north of the Queensway. One leg will carry on to Algonquin College. The other leg vers westward under a city park and emerges from its underground tunnel between the Queensway and the west end bus garage on Queensview Drive. The in-an-open-cut  Queensview Station ( much like Westboro and Tunney’s Stations) will replace the lawn directly in front of The Brick. Directly opposite The Brick is The Ottawa Citizen plant, and … Continue reading Queensview Station Crossing (part iii)

Grant me an infill …

I guess I haven’t walked down Grant Street all winter, because this house seems to have popped up ready-made:   I love the bright red colour bands, the texture differences of horizontal and vertical corrugated siding. It reads as three houses, without being a big beige block. It was built on a very shallow lot, which proves something nice can be built on miniature leftover spaces between the apartment parking lot and the street. The outdoor space is the roof deck. Here is the back of the house: The ends of the building also have textures highlighted by horizontal and … Continue reading Grant me an infill …

The tale of the virgin developer, the tiny apartment building, and Christmas presents under the Balsam

From time to time, development applications appear that raise more questions than they answer. The one at 13 Balsam is for me such an application. The applicant is an Italian small-business owner, a newbie to development. He owns a single lot, upon which he proposes to build a five storey apartment building. It would have an elevator, and all of 8 apartments (4 two bedroom; 4 one bedroom). The ground level would consist of a building lobby and the rest of the ground level would be at-grade parking, presumably closed in a garage. The application has only this one elevation, no floor … Continue reading The tale of the virgin developer, the tiny apartment building, and Christmas presents under the Balsam

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

Moving Toward Goal-oriented Infill (part iii)

In the first part of this series, we looked at the current model of infill and intensification. By emphasizing compatibility and incremental change, it is supposed to mollify the neighbours. If there are few infills in a neighborhood, this might work (ie, the rest of the neighborhood is economical to keep as it is). In other neighborhoods, with the passage of time, and by dint of many infills and evolution, the finished result is a changed neighborhood that has lots of minimally useful side yards, mostly paved and definitely un-green back “yards”, and too often lots of front yard parking too. Cars dominate … Continue reading Moving Toward Goal-oriented Infill (part iii)

Moving beyond compatible intensification and infill (part ii)

Neighborhoods come and go in trendiness. A trendy location in Copenhagen is the “potato fields” area, Kartoffelraekkerne. The former working housing, consisting of three storey flats, is now very popular with those whom Richard Florida would label the “creative class” (including architects, professors, planners). Of course, 1880’s worker housing doesn’t meet modern needs, so the creative types have kit bashed the three flats per building into three storey townhouses. While this is 1880’s style, and not what we expect to find in Ottawa, I am impressed by the attractiveness of the long uniform rows along the streets. There are no garages or … Continue reading Moving beyond compatible intensification and infill (part ii)

Moving Beyond Compatible Infill and Intensification (part i)

“It’s just not compatible with this neighborhood !” — so goes the cry heard every day in our fair city. It goes up whether the proposal is for a single infill house, or worse a semi, or even worse, a townhouse cluster or innovative pod of housing units. And then it becomes a banshee wail when the intensification is for an apartment building. Strangely enough, the cries are usually preceded by a faux-conciliatory “I’m all in favour of intensification but …”  We all have no doubt that the objections have nothing to do with the purely coincidental proximity of the project to the … Continue reading Moving Beyond Compatible Infill and Intensification (part i)

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

Intensification not without its drawbacks

On Pamilla Street an infill developer severed the side yard of a small single — the blue one to the right in the pic — and greatly intensified the site. The neighbours objected, took it to the OMB, lost, and the building went ahead. Why was it controversial? Well, the usual developer sins. They took the front and back yard set back minimums as the permissible maximum building size. So the infill house is huge — so huge, it is in fact 3 houses on one 23′ lot with shared driveway. The neighbours objected to the height, the car traffic, and … Continue reading Intensification not without its drawbacks

Firestone speaks

Last week, the Dalhousie Community Association, of which I am the outgoing president, held its annual AGM. Last year our speaker was John Doran from Domicile, speaking on how to cost out a condo project. This year, we had Dr Bruce Firestone, best known as founder of the Senators. Until recently he was a professor of entrepreneurship at Ottawa U. He has been an engineer, real estate developer, hockey guy, professor of architecture, engineering, and business, a mortgage broker, author, parent, etc. He is an engaging speaker. He talks with confidence born of personal experience on the topic and the … Continue reading Firestone speaks

From low rise to high rise …

The Dalhousie and Hintonburg Community Associations will be holding a joint open house on Tuesday at 7pm at Tom Brown Arena where interested people can see just what the City is planning for the industrial and vacant lands along the OTrain corridor. Most of the emphasis will be on the area north of Somerset Street, to Bayview Station, which is shown in the illustration below. Those are 30+ storey office towers on the top centre, opposite Bayview Station; the blueish buildings are already approved by the City and NCC as part of the LeBreton project (so don’t fret, we’ll all be dead before … Continue reading From low rise to high rise …

Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

Claridge is proposing a new condo tower for their site at Breezehill and Somerset Streets, just west of the O-Train corridor. The site is between Devonshire school and Somerset, in the old Chinese market store (which was Acklands AutoSupply before that). (Pending zoning approvals etc the store is being renovated and rented out to a dollar store). Immediately to the west of the site is a four storey red brick office building, opposite that is the 18 storey residential tower that looks like it might date from the sixties or early seventies. Here in a nutshell is the neighborhood context: The left picture, a … Continue reading Claridge application for 1050 Somerset West

Lonely house on the parking lot

The area along the O-Train corridor has undergone lots of changes from its original industrial beginnings. Occasionally, an old building survives. Notice that it has a real slate roof, there are few houses or buildings left in our neighborhood with slate roofs. In this case, it probably was to provide additional fire proofing from the sparks that flew out of the many steam engines in the area. David Jeanes tells me this may have been the home of Ottawa Stair Works. Probably built right after the Great Fire in 1902, the building then faced Somerset Street which was not yet elevated up on the … Continue reading Lonely house on the parking lot

Infill that works

Complain, complain, complain. It’s too bi-i-i-g. It’s too ta-a-a-a-ll.  It’s not the same as now. It’s not compatible. We hear those whines every day when the subject of infill or new development comes up. It’s not always that way. It’s just that good projects that are welcome in the neighborhood don’t get good press. So here’s a good news story. On Booth Street there is a blight that has cursed residents for years, Cousin Eddy’s Garage and Uncle Chado’s body shop. The city trees in front of the garages mysteriously died so we could all admire their ugliness and garbage-strewn … Continue reading Infill that works

Westboro tizzy (iii)

As part of the Uniform Developments condo proposal for Roosevelt Avenue, the City/Councillor negotiated some “community benefits”. This consists of $200,000 worth of traffic calming and streetscaping to be paid for by Uniform. Here is an overview of the changes to Roosevelt (top street in pic) and Winston (lower street in pic) (transitway trench is running up the right side of the pic): Double click on the picture to enlarge it. The south end of Roosevelt Avenue, to the left in the above pic, where it meets Richmond Road, gets redesigned to be more pedestrian friendly. Midway along the block are some traffic … Continue reading Westboro tizzy (iii)

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 http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/inpr/su/sucopl/upload/The-Carlings-at-Arbutus-Walk-Vancouver-B-C.pdf 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)

Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue. Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it. The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they … Continue reading Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

Is it a Syn?

There was a controversy about 18 months ago in the Westboro area about a “perfectly fine house” to be torn down to build a new, larger one. The property owner got their permits, and the house was duly built. Here’s a google street view of the old house, note the mature hedge along Spencer on the right, and the multiple evergreens: And here is a pic of the new house, seen from the front. For a corner lot, they did not take any advantage of westerly views. Fenestration on the front façade is minimal: and the view from the diagonal across … Continue reading Is it a Syn?

City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

The above house near the Parkdale market got an award of merit for urban design in the City’s recent competition. Frankly, I was surprised, and bit annoyed too. The upper deck, which doesn’t relate to the street so much as soar above it, does have a neat angled sun roof. The exterior materials are well handled, and the design is  neat. But only neat in an architectural way. I don’t think it is good urban design. First, the entire front yard of these two houses is gravel. Is it really a xeriscape garden? Fess up, it’s two car parking spaces taking up 100% of … Continue reading City awards prize, whilst frowning on the design

The Thinest of the Thin Houses

Very narrow houses are perfectly livable, if well designed. There are about 25 across the street from me on 12′ lots, which means they are  a bit more than 11′  wide inside. I think CCOC has a bunch a few blocks over, off Rochester. Nonetheless, very thin houses make City regulators expand with worry. A new group of thin houses is under construction at Gladstone and Cambridge. They replace the famous “yellow house” with its Charlie Brown zig-zag brown stripe. I have been anxiously awaiting their construction because they are thin – on 12′ lots. But the end unit, along Gladstone, is even thinner, being … Continue reading The Thinest of the Thin Houses