The Burlington Church Street Marketplace had mostly older buildings along it, which gave it character and an attractive pedestrian scale. Sparks has lots of older buildings, plus some new office buildings which should generate lots of pedestrians. I did not notice any Burlington buildings with tinted-almost-black windows, like our public broadcaster. Nor was there a block of storefronts facing an indoor mall and turning their backs to the outdoor mall, a la 240 Sparks or D’Arcy McGee. The Burlington indoor mall met Marketplace outdoor mall at right angles, with corner stores facing both, complete with big windows and operable doors to both. Such details matter. A corner location with windows on both streets should be a prime opportunity, not a reason to paste over the windows with opaque screens (see, for eg, Grand and Toy at Metcalfe and Albert or Kent at Slater).
One big difference between our malls was that a number of Marketplace buildings were apartments, with real people living and overlooking the street. Would that Ottawa U build its next residence on Sparks Street. Or a seniors residence. The building pictured above offered great visual interest. An explanatory poster offered details to passers-by.
A few blocks away, new infill residential developments took up the same style. From the turrets, they had a view down to Lake Champlain. Now this is inviting downtown living.
The city was busy renovating some of the side streets that crossed the Mall. They were using the typical urbanist vocabulary of bulb outs, sidewalk widenings, visually attractive pavements, etc.
In Ottawa, Downtown Moves is working towards a better walk vocabulary, but it remains to be seen if it will be another report abandoned on a shelf of museumed previous studies, or if we can make Queen and adjacent cross streets into something attractive.
One of the more interesting (to me, anyway) design vocabulary bits in Burlington was the overhead traffic signals. All heads facing one direction are mounted on the same arm. This reduces clutter of many arms at many angles that clutter our intersections. From a distance, the opposite arching arms in Burlington visually form a single arch over the street when viewed from a distance, which was graceful and elegant. Look deep into the picture at the distant intersection to get an idea of the arch effect:
yet more on Burlington to come