433 Bank Street, at the northeast corner of Gladstone, used to be home of Ginn Photography Company, which changed to GPC Lab Works when the photography store was bought by Vistek. It's in the same block as the Watch Clinic (which I believe is the only store in Centretown with shutters), the Ink Spot, Hackett shoemakers and Higgerty's shoes. This photo is from April 2009, before the work started on the reconstruction of Bank Street, and we can see what Bank used to look like, with the square, black steel garbage bins and high street lights but no pedestrian-scale lights. The "Bank Street Promenade" signs are haphazardly oriented.
Here's a closer view of the front of the Vistek building, in mid-May 2009:
The Gladstone Avenue frontage is mostly ignored by the building, except for a showroom window. The wall has collected street furniture and undergrowth. At the rear of the building, a service entrance is covered by a retractable blue awning. This is in August 2009.
In November, Vistek announced they were moving to the newly-renovated building at Bank and Flora (which is where I bought my current camera). On this late morning in mid-November, we can see the pattern of the concrete screen on the second storey of the entranceway. The concrete slabs have a recessed "v" shape to them, creating a shading pattern when the light is right. The same screen wall is in the opening along Gladstone. The new traffic light post has a traffic camera mounted atop it. You can watch it (and all others) at traffic.ottawa.ca.
Here's a front view of the effect. The Watch Clinic is also open, in case you've only ever seen it closed. The new mid-level street lamps on Bank are unique; the City's street lighting policy now requires a high-level street lighting and low-level pedestrian scale lighting for main streets (like on Preston and Wellington West, among others).
When the sun isn't out, or when it isn't at the right angle, the grooves in the screen wall's concrete blocks don't show, though the pattern itself isn't all that bland. The Vistek signs were blacked out in December 2009, but this photo is from mid-August 2010. The street reconstruction is mostly over by this point.
Then, in late September, work began on preparing the building for its next tenant. I knew it looked different, but I didn't notice until reviewing the photos for this post that the screen wall had been removed.
In November, a big red sign announced that this would be the home of Miele Gallery on Bank, a showroom for the well-known appliance maker. Appliances and furniture stores are making a comeback in Centretown with all the new condo units being built.
It opened in December 2010 and I paid them a visit, to welcome them to Centretown and to get a first look at the renovated interior. France Gascon and Mathieu Laquerre are co-owners of the store, which is a franchise and not a corporate store. They removed a mezzanine at the rear of the store which housed enclosed offices, and the result is an open two-storey showroom (which is conceptually reminiscent of the new Tommy & Lefebvre showroom just a block away).
Looking back toward the front of the store, the remaining mezzanine has been retained as an area for cooking demonstrations and other interesting activities. You can bring your comforter or large blanket and they'll show you that it can still fit in the compact laundry machines.
The upper level is not yet finished, but when it is it will brighten up the view from the outside. As it stands, you can't easily tell it's open. In the foreground of the above photo is a rotary press for ironing large quantities of linens. France gave me a demonstration of the funky device, which is geared toward owners of Inns with moderate ironing needs.
You can visit the store at Bank and Gladstone, or online at MieleOnBank.ca