Showing posts with label Construction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Construction. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tulips & tower cranes sprouting up

In the first weekend of May, the tower crane for Broccolini's hotel/condo at 199 Slater went up. This is right across the street from the BMO building at 280 Laurier, at the Slater Street "Bank" Transitway station. The BMO building had some nice flowers by its windows to go along with the view.

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Peds on Weds: Condo access fail

Suppose you're going to spend $18.5 million on a 12-storey (later 16-storey) condo building. You might build it with exclusively one-bedroom apartments that cater to young, single individuals. Such apartments aren't big enough to raise children, so you wouldn't need to worry about your residents getting in with a stroller. And your target market is decades away from using a wheelchair.

So despite legislation that gradually encourages more and more compliance to provide equal access to people with disabilities, you install a step at the front door:

If a resident loses a limb or is paid a visit by a wheelchair-using relative, there's a second-class entrance at the side of the building. When they're dropped off at the front of the building (as is customary), someone who is unable to walk up a step would of course have no difficulty walking 60 feet or so out of their way on a snowy sidewalk:

To add insult to (hopefully no) injury, the entrance was initially built with a direct ramp from the sidewalk. The step was added after the fact:

According to the Condo project website, a new development in "contemporary Canadian cities" has the following requirements: "a sharp and creative Development Team with a solid track record of success ... design innovation, marketing savvy, systematic project management, financial prowess and political acumen." (I won't go into the "partnership with...neighbours" bit where the first the community association heard of this development was the day before it went to the Committee of Adjustment)

But as the CCCA's Seniors Committee regularly writes in their column in the Centretown Buzz, our ageing population means that we also need to ensure that new buildings are built with accessibility and visitability in mind. These qualities are essential in ensuring that ageing individuals can continue to live in their homes, ensuring a healthy diversity of the community.

There's only so much you can do for older buildings that were constructed before universal accessibility was a consideration, but for new buildings there's no excuse a person with a mobility restriction can't enter the building with as much dignity as an able-bodied person from the first time they visit.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

Monday, March 10, 2014

An urban gas station in Centretown

The Petro Canada at Bronson and Somerset quietly reopened this past Friday after about six months of construction, which started shortly after the reopening of newly reconstructed Bronson Avenue. It comes complete with a convenience store at the corner, seen best at night in HDR.

Even though about three-quarters of Centretown residents walk, bus and bike as part of their regular commute to work and school, the car ownership rate in Centretown is about 1.3 cars per household. So when residents of Centretown, Chinatown and Dalhousie eventually have to fill their tanks, they have to go somewhere. After the closure of the Shell station at Gloucester, this station just on the far side of Centretown's Bronson border is one of the closest to downtown. (I'm not saying I regret the closure of the gas stations that used to pepper Centretown much more heavily!)

But just because a gas station is a car-oriented business, it doesn't mean it can't also fit into the fabric of a walkable urban neighbourhood. Before the construction photos, let's look at how the station used to look:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peds on Weds: Toronto-style sidewalks part 3 - the downsides

There has been a fair amount of criticism of the Toronto-style sidewalk design since it was made the standard in the City of Ottawa in 2006, just as there have been various challenges implementing it. As with any standard, you can't please all of the people all of the time, especially in a constrained physical environment like Delaware Avenue, below:

In the first part of this series, I described what "Toronto-style" sidewalks are and how they're supposed to work. In the second part, I detailed the rather technical history of how this sidewalk design, also known as "ramp-style vehicle access crossing", became standard, following through minutes from post-amalgamation City of Ottawa through to 2006.

Feedback about the design started as soon as the sidewalks on Delaware (pictured above) and Holland Avenue were installed for the pilot project. Since then, the design has also received its share of criticism from various sources. Today I'll be discussing these criticisms, and other issues the standard has encountered. I'll finish the series next week with a review of alternatives, starting with how Ottawa's sidewalks have been designed through the ages.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The lonely elm

When the LeBreton Flats saw the arrival of the "road header" tunneling machine, its disembodied chewing tool seen here, an old Elm Tree played host.

The tree also played host to a stop along Dennis Van Staalduinen's Jane's Walk in May 2013, providing the walkers some shade:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3D Thursday: Gladstone block

I haven't blogged much about the Gladstone Avenue reconstruction project, perhaps because as far as street reconstructions go it's fairly straightforward; only four blocks, and not a major commercial street like Bank, Somerset, or Preston. My only Gladstone reconstruction post was also a 3D Thursday post. (Incidentally, there's an open house this Wednesday for the Queen Street redesign, 11 December 2013 at 5:30-8pm, City Hall)

Due to time constraints, the contractor only undertook one block this year, between Metcalfe and Elgin. Some years the snow comes pretty late, allowing for an extended construction season. This year, unfortunately, is not one of them, and snow fell after the curbs were put in for the much-wider sidewalks:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The next photo shows in 3D what you can't see in the 2D equivalent (linked immediately below the photo): that the curbs (under the orange tarps) are higher than the sidewalk bed behind them.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

It was a bit of a mess at the Metcalfe end of the block while all this was sorted out.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The following week, the road and sidewalks were stripped of the snow and graded with asphalt. It was probably the least snowy street in Ottawa (even if it was also the least-paved one). This excavator has a neat side-to-side pivot on its bucket.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The sidewalks have been paved in asphalt temporarily for the winter, using this miniature asphalt layer vehicle (like the ones used for roads, but only about six feet wide). This might be my first attempt at nighttime 3D photos with flash, and I'm glad with how it turned out.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

The remaining three blocks between Bank and Cartier will be done next year, as will the finishing work on this block. It'll be a big improvement over how it used to look: an excessively wide street with no trees, lots of potholes, and narrow sidewalks.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bad sectors in Centretown

Back in July, my hard disk drive crashed, losing two months' worth of photos (about 1600). At the end of October I got a surprise call from the guy I'd brought it to, who said he was able to recover over 90% of the data. I was able to push this to about 97% of the photos that I had taken since my previous backup.

Some of them, however, were damaged. The hard drive had bad sectors and in the recovery many of the photos were damaged (only a very small number were completely unreadable). The damage inflicted on them actually has a bit of an artistic tone to them. Here's a photo of 222 Queen Street (which is where the RMOC headquarters were before it moved to the building that's now City Hall):

I discovered that I actually had a more recent backup on an external drive, up to mid-June. From this, I was able to push the recovery rate to about 99% of my photos, since many of the damaged photos were taken before then. Here's the original of the photo above:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

3D Thursday: A tower comes down gently

When my hard drive crashed at the end of July, it took with it all the photos I had taken between May 30th to July 24th.

At Alex's suggestion, I had taken the drive to PC Perfect in the Glebe at the end of July. After a couple of weeks of no results, I gave up on it and moved on, but at the end of October I got a call saying that they'd been able to recover over 90% of the data! I've finally gotten it back and was able to reconstruct about 99% of the photos I'd lost.

While most of my photos were of long-term construction projects, I was particularly devastated by the loss of my photos from events like Bluesfest, Capital Vélo Fest and Doors Open Ottawa. But there was one group of construction photos that I couldn't reproduce, when Charlesfort was done with their tower crane on Lisgar:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Most of the condo projects I've seen lately have taken their tower crane down all in one go on a Saturday, but this one, a climbing crane, un-climbed itself a couple days before the weekend. The result was a tower crane only about 7 floors up amid buildings two to three times its height.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Considering we're used to seeing tower cranes high above their subjects, this was definitely a cool sight to be seen and captured!

(Another thing I had lost was the SVG graphic I started using as a watermark on my 3D photos. As you can see, I've got that back now too!)

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bronson reopens for the last time

After two years of construction, Bronson Avenue reopens to through traffic today, whereas it had been closed between Laurier and Somerset (the headline of the linked PSA wrongly states Gladstone). I thought I'd post some snapshots to summarize the progress.

As with last year, the reopening isn't necessarily something to celebrate, as Bronson will no doubt return to its status as a traffic sewer for hasty drivers with little or no connection to Centretown, the roadway is the same width as before the reconstruction (despite the Community's strong desire to get it rebuilt otherwise), but without all the potholes to slow them down. There will hopefully be some degree of relief on the side streets which have been host to cut-through traffic when Bronson was closed.

Recall how disruptive the closure was to road users of all modes. Not only did it disrupt the patterns of people who were just passing through, but when the intersection of Somerset and Bronson was closed, bus riders had quite a walk to get to the nearest bus stop. Customer traffic to the businesses along Bronson slowed to a trickle when Gladstone was closed. There were some attempts to maintain temporary sidewalks for pedestrians also, as seen here in the muddy mess of a street, looking north along the former east sidewalk:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Peds on Weds: What they were thinking

On Monday, Eric Darwin posted a rhetorical question on his blog—What were they thinking?—in reference to some sidewalk work at the Delta Ottawa City Centre on Lyon Street. As it happens, the question does have an answer, and it involves a deeper look (literally) than how the sidewalk looks now.

Here's a photo of the hotel in March 2012, seen from under the walkway which connects the East and West Memorial buildings. The building with the orange tarp in front, also reflected in the glass façade of Constitution Square, is the Delta Ottawa City Centre hotel, originally opened as the Skyline Hotel in 1967 and most recently known as the Crowne Plaza.

In September 2011, I had a post with my photos of the Crowne Plaza taken in recent years. This was in immediate response to posts on West Side Action (since removed?) and on Urbsite about the demolition that had just started on the entranceway. The Urbsite post has a rich history of the building, including construction photos.

The important bit for the purposes of this post, however, is that the entrance used to have a ramp to a second-storey doorway with a heavy canopy above it. The ramp went up from Albert Street and came down on Queen Street. If you zoom in, you can see the slope of the sidewalk along Queen Street:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

3D Thursday: Darkness

Back in mid-May, before the finishing touches were done on the O-Train pathway, I swung by at night and took some photos. I had my tripod with me and some time, so I thought I'd see if I could get the right shots for some 3D photos. I think they turned out pretty well.

This one is of the stairs leading down to Louisa Street off the pathway. The railing had just been installed: (click on the image to see it larger, you can even make out the depth of the blades of grass!)

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

When you're using one camera to take two exposures for a 3D shot, it's difficult enough in the daytime. The colours or lighting levels don't always match, you need to make sure the subject is stationary, and that the camera location is moved enough to have an effect, but not too much to spoil it. At nighttime, it's even harder. Night photos all but demand a tripod, and my point-and-shoot cameras aren't always consistent in producing the same settings for the same shot.

At the time, they were making rapid progress on installing the ramp in the sidewalk along the Somerset Street viaduct where the pathway comes uphill to meet it, so that cyclists could safely cross the sidewalk. They had left it for the night with the rebar installed and a fence segment laid over it, for safety I guess. This provides a great contrast of depths that works really well in 3D photos.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

While I wanted to come back to take a 3D photo the next day, I knew that there was a good chance they'd have poured the concrete, so I went ahead and poked my camera through the construction fence, held it still as best as I could, and took a photo. Then I poked it through the next hole over and did it again. And it turned out pretty good!

As it happened, I had to go by there anyway the next day, and they hadn't yet poured the concrete! But it was a good thing I had taken the photo the night before as I was in a hurry and could only snap a quick photo or two from across the street:

I hope you're enjoying the O-Train pathway, especially now that the O-Train is back in service!

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

3D Thursday: Accessible McNabb

McNabb Park Community Centre has been having some work done on the front of the building (although the "front" is set far back from Percy Street). I believe they're installing an accessibility lift to provide access to the basement and main floor, so you don't have to wheel yourself up the long ramp.

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

Incidentally, there is an ongoing public consultation on the redevelopment of McNabb Park.

I took the above photo on my way home from purchasing my new camera, a waterproof Sony Cybershot the size of a small wallet. It ostensibly has a "3D mode" which uses software to extrapolate depth information from multiple rapid exposures at different focus settings, but the "3D" photo it creates is very shallow, and doesn't beat exposures from two separate points.

I had two cameras of the previous model I used (a Pentax Optio W series) which allowed me to take two simultaneous photos side-by-side. This meant I could take photos of moving objects and people (like so), but so far I only have the one Sony camera, which will limit my 3D photo-taking opportunities. Luckily I have a lot of them banked up.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ] [Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

3D Thursday: Hydro pole hole

In advance of the upcoming reconstruction of Gladstone Avenue starting this summer, Hydro Ottawa is replacing the hydro poles along Gladstone from Cartier to Bank. Here, five buckets hoisted by three cherry picker trucks are holding workers as they anchor the fixtures for a replacement pole at O'Connor:

It's a tricky job, because they need to put the new pole in right next to the old one, dodging the wires along the way. To do this, they need to dig a hole for the new pole, using a big 'badger' vacuum truck. I took a 3D photo looking down into one of these holes:

Source photos for the 3D images:
Left, Right

In case you're wondering how deep those wooden poles go beneath the ground, here's a pole on Wellington West in Hintonburg where they dug out underneath the sidewalk, leaving the pole and sidewalk in place:

Since I know you're wondering, construction on Gladstone isn't supposed to start until mid-July at the earliest.

[Tune in on Thursdays at noon for a new 3D image. View the 3D label for other posts with 3D images. 3D FAQ]

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bronson and Somerset still closed

Construction on Bronson Avenue resumed a while ago, with the Somerset and Bronson intersection closed from the beginning of April to the end of May. Other work has also been going on, such as the finishing touches of the segment south of Somerset, in particular the sidewalks and landscaping between MacLaren and Gladstone (which Eric Darwin has recently blogged about). The impact on Chinatown can be expressed in this single photo:

This next picture gives a bit of an idea of why the intersection has to be closed for so long. There's a mess of stuff underneath that needs to be replaced. It's a three-dimensional soup of cables, wires, pipes, drains, and sewers (much of the latter were installed late last year and over the winter).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Peds on Weds: In case of fire hydrant, block sidewalk

Ever hear someone talk about a pole in the middle of a sidewalk or path but you suspect they're exaggerating the degree to which it's blocking pedestrians? Well I've got one for you, with a photo to prove it!

I'll quickly run through how it got there (why it did remains unknown...). The fixture in question is on Albert Street, at the site of the Lorne building, which I've blogged about in posts with the label 90 Elgin.

Here's the back of the Lorne building in May 2011, and the Albert Street sidewalk, looking east toward Elgin, with a fire hydrant and street light more or less at the edge of the sidewalk at the left:

Similar angle in August, after exterior demolition started. A rendering of the new building is on a sign:

In late November 2011, the sidewalk was incised down its length about a foot and a half behind the curb line:

The back two thirds of the sidewalk were removed by the end of November. The fire hydrant from previous photos is just on the other side of the streetlight. Ever wonder what's under the concrete of a sidewalk? Well, here's a photo of it anyway:

Piles were driven right at the cut line and wooden 4x4 fenceposts were strapped to them. Early December 2011.

The same scene from the Slater Street side, looking across to Albert. The piles are interleaved with wooden boards to hold the street up, as I described in detail for the EDC building at 150 Slater in a post in August 2009.

While the wasteland of the site is fun, here's a cropped closeup of the same shot. The hydrant is gone. I only noticed looking at these photos that the streetlight was actually strapped to an I-beam pile during this phase of construction. Weird, but I guess it works!

Since Elgin Street is along Confederation Boulevard, the slightly-less-ugly-than-normal NCC spec hoarding was attached to the fenceposts seen in the previous scene. Needless to say, the sidewalk was closed.

...Unless you work there. (Ever notice how big a tower crane's hook block actually is? If I were as far away from it was the tower crane's operator is, I'd be pretty spooked to have it so close to workers!)

The above shot was from June 2012, and it looked more or less the same as it did at the end of 2011.

By Mid-September, the wooden fencing was taken down and replaced with temporary modular metal fencing.

Cropping in again on the photo, the fire hydrant is still there, and, with the blue top indicating it's apparently still in service.

By the end of October, 2012, the streetlight was removed, and the hydrant is yellow. It's actually not the same hydrant as the one before, which suggests it might have been moved also.

In mid-November, they reinstated the sidewalk and put scaffolding over it since the towers were (and are) still under construction right next to it.

Only, uh...

I'm not sure why the hydrant is in the middle of the sidewalk (the one we've been following is in the distance; the one seen here is mid-block, closer to Metcalfe). Maybe the builder and the City couldn't agree on whether to put it at the front or back of sidewalk, so they split the difference.

For now, the scaffolding over it seems to be keeping the snow away. But when that's gone, I'm not sure how sidewalk plows are supposed to make their way along here.

Luckily, it's just a 'temporary' situation. In all likelihood, there will be a standpipe built into the wall of the building, and the sidewalk will be redone with the final, fancy landscaping.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]