Friday, November 13, 2009

Bank Street Phase III, Part 3: Trees

[This post is part of a series on Bank Street's new look. See the introduction and part I here. Due to a typo, this post didn't go up yesterday as scheduled.]

Note: Bank Street will reopen to vehicular traffic this evening, two weeks ahead of schedule!

Last time, I talked about the new decorative light standards along the reconstructed parts of Bank Street.

As with the street lamps, the new trees (of which there are many more than were before) have different cages on the sections North and South of Gloucester Street, and the infrastructure beneath them vary as well.

Here's a photo courtesy of the Midcentury Modernist of the tree vaults in the Nortnern end of Bank Street. This shot is in front of the new Telus building at Bank and Slater, under construction in May 2007. In the foreground, you can see the trees planted in rather large plots.

The pits were then covered with precast concrete blocks that do double duty to cover the tree vaults and to provide underfoot support as sidewalks. A tall, narrow cage protects the trees from various elements, and was specifically designed to be secure enough to lock your bike to. This one is between Slater and Albert, across from Snider Plaza.

In the foreground, they've made a gravel pathway across the construction zone for pedestrians to cross Bank. But the thing to look at in this photo is the set of trees at Bank and Gilmour in late May, partway through reconstruction. The five trees along this stretch are in front of the CCOC building, and are owned and maintained (i.e. watered) by the CCOC. Prior to the reconstruction, these were about the only trees along Bank Street.

This one at the end of the row (shown in late April) didn't survive the reconstruction. You can also see the old tree guards that were on them. (As of early November the old tree guards have been removed, but new ones haven't been added yet).

In late July, that tree was removed, but I believe the others were undisturbed. One of the problems with the trees in this location is that they don't get much sun.

Here's the uprooted tree, again in late July:

In early October, the trees for this stretch were delivered in front of the Bridgehead on Bank and Gilmour, across from Herb & Spice. As you can see, the sidewalks have already been poured in this section, unlike in the first section of Bank, where the trees were installed before the sidewalk was poured. Incidentally, I hear through the grapevine that the two angel murals above Wilde's (visible in the background of this shot) will be replaced sometime soon.

Here are some of those tree vaults in Phase II, looking North from Lisgar to Nepean, with the Grace Ottawa food store at right. As you can see, the tree vaults are much smaller than in the first phase, but are bigger than the band of sidewalk that goes along the street:

Here's a closeup of a tree partially planted in one of the vaults. It looks like the sidewalk on the far side hasn't been poured yet. While I usually stick my camera through the fence, this can give a false impression that the views of the construction are unobstructed, so every now and then I take a shot with the fence in the foreground as a reminder. This is on the North-East side of Bank and Nepean, looking South-West, in late October 2008.

Here are some of the new precast concrete pieces for the tree vaults, awaiting installation just South of Bank and Gloucester. One is already installed around the tree behind them. (November 2008)

Unfortunately, the guards weren't installed before the winter (which did hit early last year, in fairness) and many of the vault covers were cracked and damaged by the snowplows, including this one near Bank and Lisgar (Wallack's in the background):

This past August, the new guards were installed around the Phase II trees, which had been planted the previous fall. They're a shorter, more stylistic variant. They're sturdier, and wrap around the concrete base of the tree vault covers, to keep the pieces tight. This should help to avoid the type of damage caused over the past winter. (Note: Colour has been "warmified" on this photo)

Note the detail on these tree guards. They have little round balls at the tips of the fins, no doubt to minimize eye-poking, but they also add a decorative touch.

When the trees are in full leaf, they really add colour to the street. This gingko tree (described in this PDF as "extremely hardy but slow growing") on Bank and Cooper in Phase III looks nice in the early September's sun:

Oh, and fear not, a new tree was planted at Bank and Gilmour to replace the one removed.

The tree guards on Phase II and III's trees are noticeably shorter than the tall, slim ones on Phase I. Here are two along the vacant lot at Florence (photo taken last week):

Which makes a great segue for the next post: Benches. Tune in on Saturday for that post.

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