Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jane's Walk Ottawa 2014 this weekend

This weekend (May 3-4, 2014) is the annual Jane's Walk Ottawa series of free urbanist walking tours, and as with last year, I'm publishing a list of walks in Somerset Ward.

I mentioned two of the walks I went on last year in my blog posts The Lonely Elm (Dennis van Staalduinen's walk on Wellington Street, who this year is giving a walk in Champlain Park) and The stones don't fall far from the hill (Quentin Gall's talk on Ottawa's Building and Monument Stones), both of which seem to have been one-offs.

Here's the rundown of Jane's Walks in Centretown for this year:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Onramp houses on O'Connor

Christopher Ryan had a timely post on Ottawa Start about Connor Court, describing one of the low-rise apartment buildings built in the first half of the 20th Century. As he mentions, O'Connor Street is little more than an onramp to the 417 freeway all the way from the office buildings at the north end through the apartment/commercial district through Centretown.

South of a certain point, O'Connor is mostly mid-rise residential or low-rise commercial, there are a couple of exceptions. I noticed this house for the first time just earlier this month. It's 231 O'Connor, between Cooper and Somerset on the east side:

231 O'Connor is on the 1958 aerials on GeoOttawa, but it isn't on the 1902 (1912 revision) fire insurance maps (unsurprisingly, given the architecture). (Er, on closer look, it appears to also be commercial)

The same day I noticed the house above for the first time, I also took an appreciation for these two houses at numbers 312 and 314, on the west side of O'Connor just north of Frank Street:

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]

Thursday, April 3, 2014

3D Thursday: Super Men's barbershop

On March 12, 2014, I learned via Twitter that 504 Gladstone was on fire. I didn't get there until around 10pm, after it had been successfully defeated. The fire damage appeared relatively contained to the end unit, and the street had reopened to traffic. I took a 3D photo, which is actually a bit chilling because you can see right into the damaged unit through the window opening:

Source photos for the 3D image: Left, Right

I learned about the fire shortly after a neighbour across the street tweeted a couple photos around 6:30 p.m.:

By the next day, the units on the west end of the row had been boarded up. The fire appeared to have been most severe in the commercial ground-floor unit at the west end, which contained an antique store, and previously a "Teleologist" (which a few years ago sparked a discussion, of which I can't find any record any more):

This wasn't the first close call for this building. In January 2007, a rather nasty (though, I understand, non-fatal) collision at this corner tore a traffic signal pole right off its footing and just missed smashing the windows of the art classes.

At the east end of the row are an art class place and the Super Men's Hair Stylist & Barber Shop. I started going there a few years ago after my previous barber on Bank Street kept jacking his prices up with decreasing customer service. These talented Iraqi men do it for much less, seven days a week (though the price has increased slightly since this photo was taken in November 2011):

Due to the smoke damage, the barbershop decided to move across the street, next to Fil's Furniture. It's a much larger space which will allow one of the barbers to move his art studio into the back:

His website is; an unfortunate name given the circumstances, but arising from his technique. His thickly-covered canvasses are a "controlled riot of colour" (according to the website description), and I'd say some of them are even astral. The first time I met Sabah, he had been in Canada for just two months and had never experienced a real winter. He's easily one of the most interesting and passionate people I've met.

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Peds on Weds: Back turned on the public realm

[Note: at 2pm today, the pedestrian advocacy group Walk Ottawa will be holding a ceremony to place a pedestrian memorial marker at Rideau and Waller, where a pedestrian lost her life to a tractor-trailer in February. Details can be found here, here, and here]

This is a topic I wanted to post about months ago but never got around to, around when Urbsite thoroughly covered the 1970's guidelines for a second-floor enclosed pedestrian system. These guidelines implemented ideas envisioned by such documents as the 1965 Hammer Report (discussed in this post of mine) for a completely segregated pedestrian system, which would allow motorists dominion over the street-level public right-of-way downtown:

Urbsite is almost finished its nine-part series on the planning and (more planning, and) development of the Rideau Centre. In the most recent post, instalment 8 of 9, the author used a bunch of photos I'd taken which I shared with him. (I figured letting him post my best Rideau Centre pics would help me focus on Centretown... I'm not sure that worked!)

I took this photo this past Boxing Week, showing the wider of the two pedestrian overpasses/skywalks/pedways between the Rideau Centre and the Bay. The Bay has made use of this space for additional merchandising. It's perhaps not the best use of such a space, but at least it's being used. This was envisioned in the plans for the Rideau Centre skywalks, and for Ottawa's skywalks in general:

In this photo, one of the ones used on Urbsite, we can see how this affects the outside though. As hinted by the phrase "inward-facing merchandise" in Urbsite's caption for this photo, the merchandise is entirely focused on the shoppers inside the skywalk. As if the skywalk doesn't close in the streetscape enough on its own, the Bay's merchandise literally turns its back on the thousands of potential customers outside.

It doesn't need to. The little drawings of skywalks envisioned in the '70s showed lots of space around the shopping racks, where shoppers could peruse, peer out, and peer in. The skywalk was an extension of the public realm, but instead it has become part of the closed-off public space. They could have at least hung some display merchandise on the backs of the cabinets to serve as long-distance window-shopping!

I highly recommend reading Urbsite's series on the development of the Rideau Centre. It's a fascinating story with many twists and turns (and period images!) Start with part 1 here.

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