New facade on Bell Street Towers apartments

The apartment buildings on Bell Street south of Gladstone are amongst the oldest in Ottawa. We were becoming a big city when young single people no longer needed to “board” with someone or continue living at home. Of course, these independent living arrangements were not chaperoned, giving the Bell Street Towers the moniker “Peyton Place” for the first decades. After all, why else would young people leave home if not for immoral purposes?

I recall back in the 70’s visiting other students who lived there, and discovering the ceiling above was at a crazy angle, and there were large bolts and metal brackets in the apartment wall to hold up the floor above which had “let go” of the underneath wall that supposedly supported it. Seriously scary.

After decades of decay and exterior neglect,  a firm bought the towers with the intention of rebuilding them. Some of the balconies will be partially enclosed to expand the living rooms.

Work has been going on the balconies for some time, hammering off the damaged and decayed concrete and pouring new. Here is an exterior shot, and be sure to notice the apartment on the left most stack that is stucco with small windows rather than all glass (there was a fire, it was repaired in this mis-matched fashion a decade ago):

And here is a view of the first panels of new exterior to go up on the west side. The metal panels are two toned gray, the balcony railings glass.

Architectural fashions seem to go around and around. The original 50’s exterior is all glass walls, just like the most elegant condos being built today. Will today’s de luxe condos be tomorrow’s affordable housing? Will we someday bless Claridge for providing the thousands of affordable apartments spread around downtown?

Here is an artist’s view of what the exteriors will look like, as detailed the two previous WSA posts linked below:

9 thoughts on “New facade on Bell Street Towers apartments

  1. I like the fact that the owners are also turning Bell Street into a mature park, as per their elevation drawings!

  2. re: that rendering — oh boy. Arguably (aesthetically) inferior to what’s there now? I understand structural elements had to be updated (retail bays updated, etc.), but I might have left it at that. Clean lines aren’t exciting, but they’re rarely…offensive.

    1. Catherine – you took the words right out of my fingerytips!

      Evensteven – they did a similar recladding at 170 Lees, and it looks a lot nicer. You can see it dead straight if you look from the Corktown footbridge down along the canal.

      1. Charles — Oh I know about Lees! Don’t care for that either! I understand one can argue aesthetics till they’re blue in the face, but back me up here people: these “re-claddings” look bonkers, right? At least be consistent and just make a glass wall. That simplicity is less of an extended middle finger to the modernist bones, and has the added advantage of not looking totally crazy.

      2. Sorry evensteven, I like the new look. But that might just be because it’s a new look. And I reserve the right to complain if it looks much worse in reality 😉

  3. are the windows going to have some sort of coating? My building also has very large windows (pretty much wall to wall, floor to cieling) but it is not a new building and there is no coating or anything and it makes the apartments insanely hot 6 months of the year.

    1. I was talking to a window guy about those coatings, and he said that they’ll discolour and/or crack and peel after a few years (say 5-15 years, depending on luck and quality, in any event, far less than the lifespan of a new window!).

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