Who’s civic hospital vision will win out?

If I were the head of the Civic Hospital, and directing the planning for the new campus to be located to the east of the Farm,  along the Carling escarpment, I think I’d be pushing for the first big building to be built on the western part of the site, above the escarpment.

My reasoning is thus: the building would be visible from the existing campus, making it seem close by. Everyone driving on Carling would quickly learn where it is. The parking lots would be a bit concealed behind the trees.

The lower level lands, adjacent the existing parking lot for Dows Lake and NRCan employees, could be used for parking, as is much of the area to the north. Juliana [temporary] park could be paved to augment or replace the lot north of Carling. And, the new hospital executive offices would have nice views. Done deal?

Of course, I’m not the director, I’m the skeptic off to the side. And I’d point out that hospitals aren’t built all in one go, but are organic complexes that grow over time. And building the first stage on the west side means that future stages would be built going towards the Carling OTrain transit Station. And these stages will occur over the next century or more.

Which means people walking to and from the hospital would have to navigate construction sites, mud, and detours for the next century. While those parking in the upper lots would whistle whilst walking though the trees.

If, however, I was planning the Hospital complex from a city building perspective, I’d start with the first building snuggled up close to the OTrain Station at Carling. (Of course, I’d leave room for the station to be someday expanded — perhaps when it is being double tracked — under Carling Avenue to the south side, so transit users, MUP users, and residents of the nearby high rise districts along Champagne, Preston, and Rochester wouldn’t have to cross the street at grade. That should thrill the traffic engineers).

Furthermore, I’d plan a spine through the hospital site, running southwest from the Station. This spine could be indoor street, or an outdoor street. I’d align the buildings for each specialty or medical department to be built along the spine, allowing organic growth. Every employee, visitor, patient … would have safe sheltered access to transit and to the live-work-play high rise neighbourhood along the train corridor.

But as I said at the opening, I’m the head of the hospital. I don’t take the bus or transit to work. And I certainly don’t live in a condo on Preston. I’ll take the new building on the highest ground with the nearest most pleasant parking.

Is anyone playing the role of city builder?

9 thoughts on “Who’s civic hospital vision will win out?

  1. I believe the original proposed design for the new Civic Hospital at the Experimental Farm was one-storey high and acres of parking lots, at a cost of $2.3 billion. This is unrealistic – it would be an inefficient use of space (plus the Ontario Government’s annual capital contribution to hospitals is around $2.3 billion for all hospitals in Ontario (but I digress)).

    One would hope that the new building design would not only be a state-of-the-art medical facility but one that would embody good planning principles. For example, a parking structure instead of walking “miles” to the hospital building from parking lot F (particularly in winter) would be an example of this.

  2. A new hospital complex has all the positives going for it. It can reflect good planning, proper sequencing, consideration of how it will grow over time and still be essentially a complete unit in each phase. That means pleasant exteriors and access at all phases. There is never a “finished” phase, and like a university campus, it is organic. Over time all services from the existing structure will migrate to the new complex and the existing site will once again be available for redevelopment. Perhaps even for new additional hospital facilities. Access to adequate frequent transit well into the evenings is essential too, and while it does not have to be LRT it must be dependable and predictable.
    I like the idea of a development axis, like Simon Fraser University, for example, or the main campus of U Ottawa. This also simplifies the hidden needs such as utilities. If we must encroach on the ‘farm’, let it be for a civic need, and not for profit.

  3. acres of parking lots

    I read Alex Cullen’s comment and what I see are acres of parking lots. Acres of parking lots and acres of parking lots. And even more acres of parking lots. Nobody is building a hospital. They are building acres of parking lots.

    Must we carve up the farm to create acres of parking lots?

    Once you make the decision to give up green space, the lungs of the city, to acres of parking lots and still more acres of parking lots, when will it stop? It will not stop.

    What happened in Paris a few years ago? World leaders convened and agreed that acres of parking lots and the objects that sit on those acres of parking lots are leading to the destruction of the ecosystem upon which we depend. Let that sink in for a minute.

    The Civic already has a parking lot situated on the north side. How about designing a new facility to sit on that footprint? (I really like that word footprint). Then once you have your new expansion built on what was once a parking lot, you can demolish the present building and build something new on that footprint. And there are acres of parking lot on the west side of the Carling LRT station easily accessible by a new FOOT-BRIDGE (There I said it. A bridge just for feet. And more foot prints)

    And people (Notice I am talking of “PEOPLE” not the objects that require acres of parking lots), would arrive by LRT and actually walk (ANOTHER BAD WORD), actually WALK to work and benefit from increased health and fitness. And the world will be blessed as we will have avoided more acres and acres of parking lots and the Bergen-Belsen machines that sit dormant atop them.

  4. And if the politicians do not understand any of the foregoing than what we need is new politicians.

  5. I’m in favour of having the hospital have as small a footprint as possible, especially initially. It will probably sprawl a bit over time but it would be nice to start off somewhat compact. I have read that one of the challenges of building hospitals densely (i.e. vertically) is the requirement to be able to evacuate patients quickly in an emergency. If you’re on the sixth floor of a hospital and in a confined to a bed then that either requires a lot of ramps between floors.

    The proposed site offers a possible benefit in that regard, since it spans a short escarpment of sorts. If the elevation to the west is 3 floors higher than it is closer to the O-train line then you can build a six story hospital adjacent to the higher portion and still have all floors no more than 3 levels above ground.

    I’d also like to see parking garages instead of surface lots. And no free parking for staff. If they previously had it, then give them a transportation allowance for the amount of the parking and let them maximize the benefit.

  6. Eric, you are you advocating for turning Queen Juliana Park into a parking lot? Please, lets save the park; let’s all lobby to keep this valuable community amenity.

    1. Shaun: if you want to train property owners to never landscape or take care of vacant properties, even after prior buildings have been torn down, or if you want to encourage owners of useless buildings to leave them derelict and NOT tear them down, then the best way is to ensure that anytime they do improve something they forfeit their redevelopment rights. I have no doubt some people will then claim the slumlords or blighting speculators are ruining the neighborhood, but that is what will happen if we freeze temporary uses. BTW, right across the street is the former Campbell steel plant and the Sunoco diesel storage and refueling operation, now demolished and replaced with a temporary parking lot … can parkers insist that it remain parking forever? WRT Starwood’s BMW parking lot on SOHO2, they agreed in writing to make it a temporary park if tower 2 did not proceed immediately, they should be obliged to do that, and promptly and cheerfully allowed to remove that park for tower 2 someday. Nice developers who grass their not-ready-for-redevelopment sites should be encouraged,not discouraged.

      1. Hi Eric, I agree with everything you say. I have lived here since Campbell steel and I have been part of the fight with others in the community against SOHO using their lot to park cars. However, I wish to see Queen Juliana park remain community green space. I do not wish to see this wonderful park, which is used by so many people and organizations, turned into another parking lot. I do not believe that very many people realize that their community park was zoned for development during the Carling-Preston Community Development Review, nor that the park is part of the Civic’s new campus. I am hoping that you will advocate to save the park. Thank you!

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