Is this good planning?

dec 21, 2013 010


Gloucester Street, just west of Lyon, is site of several high rises. The red brick one on the right of the picture is city owned. Notice how some care was taken on the front edges to step the building back from the street, to soften the edges and transition to the next sites.

The red brick one also has a front yard, albeit a singularly useless one, except on some garbage days. I guess the City can’t be seen to do something nice in front of public housing, lest it look extravagant.

The concrete slab building under construction next door, by Brad Lamb out of Toronto, is pulled much further forward towards the street. This reflects  current planning policy which eschews front lawns in favour of tight-to-the-sidewalk plans that “enliven” the pedestrian environment (except, of course, when snow or rain drips off those balconies and renders the sidewalk unlively).

The meeting of the new tower with the old is awkward, ugly, and jarring. The new building could have “stepped back” the first bay of its building to match the red one, or at least reduced the ‘blank wall’ effect. The step back would also have modulated the street façade of the buildings.

Around back of the building, one can see that the new tower is no thicker front-to-back than the red one. So there is yet another exposed blank wall, this time of the red brick tower.

dec 21, 2013 008


The developer may well be one of those maximize-every-inch types that sacrifices good planning or design for the fastest buck. But it is disappointing when our High Rise Approvals Dept. acquiesces. It would not have been expensive for the builder to have shifted the last part of the building back a few feet when planning the building.

Am I missing something here that makes those blank walls “good planning”, or the now deeply recessed city building balconies beneficial to the tenants?

3 thoughts on “Is this good planning?

  1. May Nickson Place (the OCH building) is on a property that extends all the way through the lot to Nepean Street. Immediately behind it is its parking lot, which separates it from a couple of houses on the property. In contrast, 224 Lyon only takes up half the width of the block, so if the balconies were at the same location as its neighbour, they’d literally be looking straight down into the neighbours’ back yards. You’ll note in the planning report (linked above by ottawabound) that the planners had no qualms about reducing the rear yard setback from 7.5m to 0m at the ground floor and to 6m for the rest of the building.

  2. At some point the older building will be replaced. Maybe they’re thinking it’s better to meet the new rules and put up with the disjointedness for a few decades, instead of letting the previous rules echo down through the ages.

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