Monday, August 6, 2012

Fortress of Modernism

Decades after construction, some repairs are being undertaken to the PSAC building at 233 Gilmour, prompting me to photograph it. Its distinctive oval shape is very familiar, but from a certain angle it more closely resembles a hefty windowless tower. There are echoes of the medieval in this angle, as though an invading force had broken away some of the bricks, before using ropes to scale it.

The building, irrespective of its occupant, is representative of the "march of the hirises" that hit Centretown in the 1960s, demolishing sets of houses to build temples of modernism and the commuter culture (with ample parking, of course). As it happens, Ottawa author rob mclennan discovered that his mother lived in one of the houses demolished for this building.

As I documented in the video chronicling the origins of the CCCA, Centretown's community only started to organize itself in response to the indiscriminate revision of whole downtown neighbourhoods. They largely succeeded, as much of Centretown has remained residential; however, some may question whether the towers currently planned and under construction—while residential—echo the forces that threatened to redefine Centretown five decades ago.

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]


  1. I love this building.

  2. "Some" are free to question, but that doesn't make them right...I think recent developments, while having their own issues, are clearly distinct from demolishing houses to make way for commuters/parking lots.