Ugly Betty Building Better Brown?

The City Centre warehouse/office complex on City Centre Avenue near the Bayview Otrain station is often derided as the ugliest (commercial) building in the city. Actually, there are other contenders. And a frequently mentioned ugliest (residential) building is not so far away.

The owners — Equity International — have recently made some changes to the building. About a year ago, the huge Citv Centre red neon signs were removed from the top of the building. Then earlier this year, the building was washed. Now it’s undergoing a brownwash. The horizontal concrete stripes around the building are being painted black. While I give thanks that the building is being cared for, I am less certain as to the merit of the colour scheme selected. Dull. Rather like those tan brown bricks favoured by one of Ottawa’s luxury highrise condo builders. Does anyone thrill to brown brick?

Will the owners address the really ugliest part of the building, the two storey warehouse wing that runs all the way over to Somerset Street? These units lack wall insulation, and could really use a facelift. A similarly ugly warehouse behind the Rideau Street library was reclad a dozen years ago with colourful metal sheeting and looks much better. In this case, the building cries for the addition of exterior insulation and new cladding. Then add a few more trees to the islands in the parking lot, and the complex will be set to go for another 20 years.

If you conclude by this that I am a tad pessimistic that the complex will be soon demolished and replaced by millions of square feet of office and residential space, you read it right.

Disclosure: until I retired and sold my biz, I was the largest tenant in the City Centre complex (warehouse wing).

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