Skyline Crown Plaza Delta Ottawa Centre hotel is finally correcting that awful Campeau-induced blight on the downtown. The Place de Ville complex is fully a product of 60’s thinking: big buildings, on barren plazas, with few or no windows on the ground floors, and utter domination of the streetscape for automobiles.
Now maybe Robert Campeau rode up to his buildings in limo, sailing majestically on those ramps leading to hidden-from-the-street front doors. But for the rest of us, those buildings denied the public street and tried to suck pedestrians down into an underground shopping mall. For the last forty years, there have been incremental revisions to Place de Ville, steadily undoing the damage. Front doors were added. And ground level windows. And shops facing the sidewalks. And now, at last, the dreadful ramp on Lyon is going.
That ramp had one saving grace: traffic flow was the opposite direction on it to that on one way Lyon, permitting taxis and in-the-know motorists to sneak in an otherwise illegal run the wrong way up the street.
I won’t cry to see the ramp go. Will it be replaced by a wider sidewalk? A pedestrian piazza? A patio bar?
Alas no, it will be replaced by … a ground level ramp. And it will still have an awkward relationship to the lower lobby, which will still be a few feet below street level, and the upper lobby, which will be a half floor above the street. At least it will still offer the anti-Lyon sneak northbound movement.
That’s why it may be progress, but it’s small progress.
Urbsite also has a post on the Skyline ramp, with a lot of historic pictures: http://urbsite.blogspot.com/2011/09/de-ramping-skyline.html
I have an similar post from Feb. showing the PanAm inspiration and a photoshop of what the “new” ramp will look like: http://westsideaction.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/downtowns-changing-skyline/