Showing posts with label Queen Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Queen Street. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peds on Weds: Delivery door design

Is this delivery truck at the Delta Ottawa City Centre too big, or is the delivery entrance too small?

Either way, it results in the truck blocking the sidewalk completely, and even this short truck diverts pedestrians not just into the roadway, but into the travel lane, to get past. Not the only pedestrian issue at this '60s-built hotel and conference centre.

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Peds on Weds: Part 4: A history of sidewalk design in Ottawa

Today for the fourth and final entry of the sidewalk-design series, I'm going to give a history of sidewalk design, starting at the establishment of the original City of Ottawa, in 1855 (and earlier!). In part 2 of this series, I already gave a "little history" of the Toronto-style sidewalk design, relating specifically to how they became standard back to the establishment of the current amalgamated City of Ottawa in 2001. This followed part 1, in which I described "Toronto-style" sidewalks and the problems they're meant to address, and part 3, in which I discussed some of the issues the Toronto-style sidewalk itself has faced.

Today's entry starts with the West Ward Market, built in 1848 by Nicholas Sparks. This was used as Ottawa's first City Hall, roughly where the NAC is today.


The first municipally-built sidewalks in Ottawa actually predate the City of Ottawa's 1855 incorporation: by-law number 37 of the Town of Bytown, approved the 23rd of September, 1850, was "To authorize the expenditure of £75 in making a Plank Sidewalk, S. side York Street":

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:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Peds on Weds: Sidewalk parking fit for Queen?

Finding room for all road users in the constrained area of an existing road allowance is tough. Especially on streets in the downtown core, north of Laurier. When Light Rail is built, the station entrances will dump thousands of passengers onto Queen Street's sidewalks, where presently these cohorts are distributed among Albert and Slater. So how do you fit all those people onto Queen Street's "meets the minimum width for City standards so they're fine" sidewalks?

One of the things that struck me as a bit odd in the City's Downtown Moves planning exercise was the prospect of reorganizing the downtown core streets (Queen Street in particular) such that the lanes which are used for parking outside of rush hour become sidewalk during rush hour. Imagine the parking lanes on the reconstructed portion of Somerset, except in the same brick as the sidewalk and with no curb, or at most a token separation of an inch or so.

Aside from skepticism that this will ever happen (no source of funding was identified for implementing DOMO's recommendations, meaning that post-LRT changes to the streetscape beyond road paint and signage are unlikely), I'm also skeptical to the practicality of this particular recommendation.

Exhibit A: O'Connor Street, east side, just south of Albert, next to the Sheraton:

I'd never noticed it before because I don't go that way often, and when I do there are usually cars parked over it. But in the space (which is signed as a "Hotel zone") you have a parking lane built in concrete like a sidewalk at the roadway surface level. Right where I was standing when I took the picture is a pinch point, and if you're walking southbound (toward the camera) there is a building that blocks your view of pedestrians coming in the other direction. I'd be interested to learn from people who walk this sidewalk regularly if this is indeed the case.

It's signed as a hotel zone, so parking is allowed there during rush hour too. This means that it isn't currently used as an 'overflow sidewalk', but the designs in DOMO for the part-time sidewalks looked pretty close to this. However, the curb made for a big difference: even though the space was empty, I instinctively hugged the sidewalk and avoided the step down the curb (though I might have been pushing my bike at the time...). I can imagine the psychological barriers to such a facility being practical, not to mention the fit the traffic engineers would have to put cars and pedestrians in the same place at different times!

If you eliminate the curb, would it be better? I'm not so sure. For walking on, perhaps, but have a look at Exhibit B: I was in Brockville to check out a park named for an ancestor of mine. Brockville's main street has a cobbled parking lane between the road and the sidewalk which swoops up to meet both of them at their respective grades:

This bears some similarity to 'naked streets', which is a philosophy I agree with in theory: you get cars, bikes, and peds all in the same space and everyone slows down and pays attention to what's going on. Eric happened to mention it in his latest.

In practice, however, I found this very unsettling—both as a motorist and as a pedestrian. I'm fine with parallel parking (though many aren't), but you're also doing it on an angle, which throws off some of your reference points, and there's no bump when you hit the curb to back you up if you went too far; you hit some piece of sidewalk furniture and potentially damage both it and your vehicle. (This is actually the point of naked streets, to some extent)

But as a pedestrian, I was surprised at how unsettling it felt to walk along a sidewalk with cars manoeuvering, essentially, in 'my' space. Because the sidewalk was flush with the slopey parking lane, it felt like people were parking their cars on the sidewalk. And it was equally discomforting to know that the motorist has no curb to bump into to let them know they went too far. Not only could the motorist hit a piece of sidewalk furniture (of which Brockville's main street sidewalks were voluminously supplied), but they could hit me!

Sometimes these things just take some getting used to, like how I've learned to relax when people walk in the Laurier segregated bicycle lane (making it a de facto overflow pedestrian lane when the sidewalk is crowded). But curbs are there to keep people from driving on the sidewalk, and if you take them out to let people walk in the 'car space', then it's hard to keep the cars from driving in the 'pedestrian space'.

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

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:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Peds on Weds: Juliana sidewalk replacement

This hill on Bronson Avenue is looking south from Queen Street to Albert (where the bus is going), across to Slater and up Nanny Goat Hill to Laurier. In the immediate foreground on the right is 100 Bronson, the Juilana Apartments, built on the site of Henry Bronson's mansion in the 1960s by Douglass and Ross, as described in the latter part of this URBSite post.

I'm more interested in the sidewalk in front of the luxury apartment building. The little white arrows are telltale signs that those broken concrete squares of sidewalk will soon be replaced.

Looking north from Albert Street, back in the other direction, we see the other end of the imminent repairs. The white arrows were added in early August.

In late September, the City replaced the concrete sidewalk. It wasn't done all in one pour, there was some left at the Albert Street end of the stretch when I stopped by:

The stretch of sidewalk that was replaced only extended as far as the stairs to the apartment building.

That black patch of asphalt was actually put there not by the City but by Enbridge, which also put down that square of asphalt across the street after some work they did in the roadway. Since Enbridge dug it up, it's up to Enbridge—not the City—to replace it.

On the one hand, it's unfortunate that the sidewalk couldn't have all been replaced in one go by whomever got there first, but all told this is probably the simplest way. An alternative would have the City paying to reinstall the sidewalk that Enbridge dug up, and either footing the bill (at the expense of other needed sidewalk projects) or administering the paperwork to pass the bill along to Enbridge.

In the end, the broken section of sidewalk will have been replaced and that's what really matters.

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fields of Asphalt

Perhaps you've also stood at the corner of Elgin and Queen and marvelled at the geometry of the intersection. It's a large area dedicated to vehicles, smack dab in the middle of downtown Ottawa. If you're a cyclist, you've also probably cursed the potholes, too.

The entire length of Elgin Street was resurfaced this year, and this intersection was naturally repaved as part of that project.

With fresh smooth, black asphalt, not yet marked up with dashes, the intersection looks even more vast, and the blacktop continues down both sides of Confederation Boulevard.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tim capsule

Here's looking inside a brick wall being built at 151 Bay Street:

In late June the local media covered the conflict among the residents. As I recall (I can't find any articles online), the parking garage had to be repaired, and there wasn't enough money for the condo board to completely reinstate the gardens above them, which were the only greenspace of such a size right in the downtown core, particularly for a condo. I tweeted a photo of the gardens after they'd been marked for demolition back in July.

Well, they've cleared out the gardens, done the various repairs, and are starting to rebuild the brickwork, including some four- to five-foot high walls that demarcate the pedestrian access to the building. The walls are thick, but evidently hollow. The wide stones to cap them off hadn't been installed on this section when I went by.

If you've ever wondered what was inside those walls, now you know!

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

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reflections on the Crowne

Both URBSite and West Side Action covered the renovations to the entrance to the Delta Ottawa City Centre hotel (previously the Crowne Plaza hotel and originally the Skyline), on September 5 and 7, respectively. WSA also has a post from February showing renderings of the new entrance displayed in the lobby. [Sep 2013: updated WSA links, both originals were broken]

Well, I've taken a few photos of the hotel over the years myself, and a couple days after the other two did, I went down to get my own shots of the renovations. I tried to get some angles that weren't covered in the other blogs, like this one of the hotel reflected in the glass of Constitution Square:

You can sorta make it out in that picture, but it's much clearer in this crop of a photo from August: the door on the 24th floor coming out the side of the building, which Eric refers to in one of his above-referenced WSA posts. As he mentions, it was used to access the inside of a former illuminated sign on the side of the building, in order to replace the bulbs without having to hoist a crane.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A walk around Christ Church

On the weekend I went for a walk with some friends through Lebreton flats and back up through the escarpment. It being such a nice day, I took some photos of Christ Church, the Anglican cathedral at the far northwest corner of Centretown that has a redevelopment proposal with Windmill Developments. There was a public meeting in December about the plans, as well as an article in the Citizen.

Here's a view of the church from the Garden of the Provinces (you'd get a similar view from the steps of Library and Archives Canada). To the right of the cathedral is Cathedral Hall, a Modernist assembly hall built in the '50s. Among other things, the plan proposes to replace this hall with townhouses at the base of a 24-storey condo tower. Behind it in the photo is one of the two sister towers of Charlesfort's The Gardens condos on Bronson at Albert and Queen. On the near side of Queen next to the cathedral (i.e. behind Cathedral Hall) is Lauder Hall, a stone-walled hall that, like the main part of the Cathedral, would be retained in the development due to its heritage value.

At a certain angle, the upward-curved roof of the Sparks Street lobby (420 Sparks) presents a perspective illusion, as though it curves toward you instead of up.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Laurier Optical moving

Laurier Optical has been a familiar site at Elgin and Queen street in the second floor of the Central Chambers building for a number of years. A sign in the window advertises the store is moving two blocks West, to 50 O'Connor, as of February 1, 2011.

I wonder what will take its place...

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflection on Kent Street

While taking some photos of the existing Place de Ville "Podium" building, which is proposed to be demolished for a new office tower at 300 Sparks (mid block of Sparks, Queen, Kent, Lyon), I also took photos of the Mariott. On my way back to my bike, I snapped a couple shots of 240 Sparks' renovated entrance on Kent (before moving on to Bank and Queen, where I snapped last Monday's post post). While I was trying to take a photo of the suspension device for 240 Sparks' new glass wall, I inadvertently got a good shot of the Mariott in the reflection.

The Podium building houses the former three-screen Capitol Square cinema, which replaced the celebrated Capitol Theatre. You can read a bit more about the Podium building at Spacing Ottawa, and in Alain Miguelez' book on the history of screens in Ottawa, A Theatre Near You.

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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fixed! Streetpost at Bank and Queen

Riding around town on December 30, I was standing at the corner of Bank and Queen streets, and noticed that the lamppost was crooked at the north-west corner. It looked like there was a kink in the post behind the poster collar, dangerously threatening to fall into traffic on Queen Street.

I don't know how long it had been like that (or if it had been previously noticed and reported), but I phoned it in to 3-1-1 anyway just in case. By January 5, when I was next around there, it was already replaced with a brand new post:

Nice to see the prompt response by the City over the holidays.

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

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That's a big sign

Back in August, Manulife Financial replaced the signs on its 16-storey Manulife Place building at Queen and Metcalfe. They look a lot bigger at ground level!

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

Friday, September 17, 2010

Movie theatre with a view

Looking up from the ground floor of the World Exchange Centre's atrium, looking through the skylight to the tower along O'Connor:

Don't get too dizzy!

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

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Parking lot on Queen

Here's a little parking lot on Queen Street near Metcalfe. The one-storey building at the back of the parking lot (which fronts on Sparks) is the Toronto Dominion Bank, which will be coming down for a hotel/condo building--a novelty for Sparks. Next door is the Montreal Trust building.

A cinder block screen wall conceals part of the parking lot, with alternating blocks textured or rotated, in an attempt to break up the unsightly view of a parking lot.

The TD building, Montreal Trust building, and the proposed condo are all documented by the Midcentury Modernist on his blog, URBSite.

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