If there has to be a Somerset barrier, let it be discrete

Recap: recall that in the last two posts we see the City planning to “harden” various pedestrian walks over the OTrain corridor. We don’t know if this is to prevent objects — or people —  being dropped on the OTrain, or what the priorities, if any, are.  It would be nice to know.

And the City’s proposed designs for Somerset Street are simply awful.

Presumably, other walks near the Otrain and possibly other transit facilities (hello transitway, hello LRT) will similarly be hardened. So a better design is urgently needed.

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above: the not-yet-terror-proofed Bayview Station, soon to be populated with potential squashees.

The City’s current material-of-choice is chain link fencing. It has the virtue of being cheap. And generally, it looks cheap. Attempts to make it more acceptable by adding advertising logos or curved pipe frames seem only to make it worse, as evidenced by the pictures on the previous pages.

Now consider the following pictures:

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above: glass safety barrier on a highway overpass

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above: glass safety barrier on a railway overpass

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above: glass railing on a train bridge. The train is going by at the time of the picture. The glass wall abated all sound. 

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above: glass wind barrier on a cycle path along a lake

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above: glass barrier along a highway

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above: glass panes along QEW near St Catherines, Ont.

OK, so glass barriers can be built elsewhere. And they are a lot less obtrusive than chain link or wrought iron or concrete walls.

For the Somerset viaduct how about a two part glass panel barrier. The first part would angle out from the base of the walk at about 45 degrees. The second part would extend upward the required distance to hold the vertical glass panel, which could even be arched at the top for a lighter look.

The lower panel is close to the walk, and subject to vandalism  artistic expression, but its location behind the railing would obscure that. Debris would be steered back onto the walkway surface. The upper panels would be about 3′ out from the bridge, thus reducing some of the inevitable scratching that our culture encourages.

The supporting posts could be spaced regularly and in conjunction with the existing guard rail posts pattern.

The glass panels may even have an auxiliary benefit as a windbreak for pedestrians and cyclists on the elevated viaduct. As an additional benefit, the city would no longer have to install those awful green plywood boards it puts up every year so snowplows don’t push stuff over the edge.

A glass barrier isn’t super exotic, it’s just something outside of Ottawa’s current vocabulary of materials. If a barrier is necessary at this location — and we certainly haven’t seen any evidence yet that it is — at least exercise some care to fit in with the surroundings.



One thought on “If there has to be a Somerset barrier, let it be discrete

  1. Architect Dereck Revington designed a nice barrier on the Prince of Wales viaduct in Toronto (Don Valley Parkway). I don’t imagine the city would ever commission work like this but something like this would be both functional and beautiful.

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