Posts tagged with "Ottawa":

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Controversial expansion to Ottawa's Chateau Laurier rejected for now

The owner of what’s arguably the most important historic hotel in Canada wants to expand its northwestern backside with a modern addition that’s met with extremely severe criticism online.  Designed by Peter Clewes, principal of the Toronto-based architectsAlliance, the bulky, seven-story structure would bring 147 new rooms to the iconic Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a 107-year-old structure in Ottawa near Parliament Hill. Late last month, the City Council’s Committee of Adjustment rejected the request by property owner Larco Investments for a reduced rear yard setback on the addition. The denial effectively prevents them from breaking ground on the project. Built in 1912 and originally named after the First Grand Trunk Railway by then-owner Charles Melville Hays, the limestone-clad structure spans an impressive 660,000-square-feet, boasts 429 rooms, and sports a number of iconic turrets. It’s located in a section of Major’s Hill Park, a grand landscape in downtown Ottawa along the Rideau Canal. Some opponents of the expansion project say it would hinder views of the surrounding cityscape, much of which is on federal land. In the September 27 setback hearing, the committee acknowledged that these heritage features would be threatened and as one city council member also noted in the Ottawa Citizen, that the design isn’t compatible with the “shapes and materials” of the hotel. All these factors were outlined in the committee’s final decision: 
“The committee is of the opinion that the approval of (the) variance would allow for a new build that does not respect the landscape and character of the heritage features of the historic properties that surround the site, specifically those of the Rideau Canal, Major’s Hill Park and the Parliamentary Precinct, in contravention of the policies currently in place for compatible design and protection of views to these sites.” 
But Clewes, who has attempted to explain his design decision over the last few years, said the addition was imagined with the utmost respect for the historic site. In a 2016 interview with Maclean's, he claimed the hotel’s use of limestone and deeply incised windows was considered in the new project in order to complement the existing building.  “We’ve chosen to reinterpret that... but in a much more contemporary manner, which is a series of vertical windows in a somewhat whimsical pattern—some have likened it to a bar code,” he said. “What we’re trying to say is, look, the hotel is the most important building here, and we were simply trying to respond to that.”  If Clewes’s proposal was realized, it would be built on the site of a former parking garage located at the rear of the hotel. To signify the separation between the historic building and its contemporary predecessor, the architect added in a glazed structure so that “there’s a very clear distinction between what is old and what is new.”  But it’s not enough. Larco Investments has already secured heritage and site-plan approvals from the city council but has failed in trying to minimize the required setback for an addition to the hotel property. The reduction, according to Ottawa Citizen, would project out towards the park and “represents an increase in density on the site.” It's expected that Larco Investments will appeal the decision with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
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The new Ottawa Art Gallery dissolves into the sky with clever detailing

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The expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery, designed by KPMB Architects and with Régis Côté et Associés as architect-of-record, introduces a new building and redistributes the Gallery within the existing Arts Court complex to create an integrated creative community. The project unites the various programmatic elements through a coherent architectural language and materiality.
 
  • Facade Manufacturer Amico Canada Inc.
  • Architects KPMB Architects (design architect), Régis Côté et Associés (architect of record)
  • Facade Installer Raymond & Associates Roofing Inc.
  • Facade Consultants KPMB Architects (design architect), Régis Côté et Associés (architect of record)
  • Location Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Date of Completion 2018
  • System Expanded metal mesh suspended over metal siding with wall-washing LEDs
  • Products Amico Apex expanded metal mesh, Vicwest AD300-SR metal siding, Shouldice architectural block
The primary facade of the Gallery is an expanded metal mesh suspended in front of an inexpensive metal siding. KPMB conceptualized it as a levitating box acting as a beacon for the city, and the volume contains the art galleries and administration space. Because the galleries require indirect natural light, the design includes strategically placed windows for controlled daylight into special galleries and for clear orientation in the central staircase. KPMB began the design with a custom perforated mesh in mind but, due to cost restrictions, they were forced to investigate other options, including back-painted glass and perforated metal fins. Ultimately, the project team arrived at the expanded metal mesh because it was the simplest way to maintain the original design intent while still being cost effective. The mesh panel slides in front of the edges of the window openings and below the bottom edge of the cladding at the soffit. This creates an effect where the mesh dissolves into the sky as it extends beyond the solid box behind. Where the mesh abuts other materials on the facade, it cuts short to create a reveal. The project team faced a different challenge when detailing the stand-off clips for the metal mesh. The clips coordinate with wall-washing LEDs to make the light as uniform as possible and are organized in columns of three, with exceptions at the corners of the building and at the perimeter of the apertures. At night, the metal clips reflect the light of the LEDs to create a grid of points that dissolve as the building rises in elevation. The black box theatre and the multi-purpose room intersect with the art gallery’s space and use contrasting materials. The theatre volume, which houses the University of Ottawa’s drama program, is clad in a charcoal-colored block that references the neighboring historic stone walls. On the north side of the new complex, above the entry court and atrium, the multi-purpose room is clad in anthracite-colored zinc.
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Brutalist Building Revival: The National Arts Centre Reopens in Ottawa

All too often, The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reports the demolition of yet another Brutalist structure—the perpetual bane of the public eye for reasons architects only half-pretend to care about. So it was refreshing to celebrate the reopening of the National Arts Centre (NAC) by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects. The $110 million overhaul retained the original architectural motifs, while opening it up to the public with large spans of glass and warm wood interiors. The existing one-million-square-foot NAC by Canadian architect Fred Lebensold was on the public’s blacklist from the start. Intended for the Canadian centennial in 1967, it wasn’t finished until 1969 and went over its $35.4 million budget by over $10 million. Critics immediately jumped on the excess budget and delayed opening as well as its style—a reporter for the Toronto Star dubbed it “the Alcatraz on the Rideau.” Beyond matters of taste, there were serious issues with the building. “When it was built in the 1960s, it was assumed that the only way you would go to the [NAC] was by car,” architect Donald Schmitt told AN. “So the building wasn’t really accessible to pedestrians, and the road down [to the entrance] meant that the building’s back faced the city.” Inside, natural lighting was limited and the thick concrete walls made Wi-Fi connection difficult, much to the frustration of its modern users. Thus, in 2011, the NAC hired Diamond Schmitt to renew the building for Canada’s sesquicentennial. The first phase was complete in time for Canada Day this past Saturday with the remaining two phases slated for completion by early 2018. Schmitt’s design for the new wing builds out from the original terraces, now enclosed in large part by a 28,300-square-foot glazed curtain wall system, creating an airy effect amidst the weighty frame. Echoing the original concrete facade fins, which encase the stage house, audience chambers, lobby, and public spaces, Diamond Schmitt installed five new vertical fins that serve as window mullion caps. The shallowest fin is used on support spaces; intermediate fins are applied to public lobbies; and the deepest cap is located in the north atrium, to frame the newly created views to Parliament Hill. A broad, white oak staircase leads the public deeper into the building and doubles as stadium seating, reminiscent of the stairs the firm designed at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. In all, the addition creates six major new spaces to accommodate various audiences and programming, including an expanded “Panorama Room” that looks over the Rideau Canal. “We wanted to reveal views that just weren’t possible with the old structure,” Schmitt said. In keeping with Lebensold’s original geometry, hexagonal prefabricated Douglas Fir coffers in the ceiling double as structural support and Ontario limestone was used for the floors. “We cut [the limestone] on the flat for a curvilinear shape—a fleury cut—that creates a unique pattern,” added Schmitt. Above the new entrance on Elgin Street, a glass tower the NAC dubbed “the Lantern” rises 68 feet tall, intending to create a new landmark aligned with Ottawa's iconic Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. The Lantern is the opposite of the former inscrutable main entrance that faced the canal, where a never realized public plaza and lagoon were to have been situated, virtually inaccessible from the street. The new light-filled entrance is digitally enabled to screen performances on four sides of its hexagonal facade, a flashy upgrade amidst Elgin Street and Parliament Hill’s gothic revival architecture. With an on-time completion (even with a tight 18-month construction schedule) and praise from local officials and media, it seems that the building’s latest iteration is already off to a solid start. And for Diamond Schmitt Architects, it is a promising warm-up to its renovation of Ottawa’s 1912 Union Station, another heritage site (and architectural dupe to New York’s original Penn Station), which is currently under construction and set to reopen and house the Senate in 2018.