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Panel recommendations

The City’s Design Review Panel meets the first Thursday of every month (no August meeting between 2010-2012) at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa. Recommendations from the Formal Design Review are provided here.

February 28 and March 1, 2018

February 28, 2018

398-406 Roosevelt Avenue | Formal Review | Site Plan and Zoning Amendment | Domicile Developments Inc.; Alcaide Webster Architects Inc.; Fotenn Planning + Design

General Comments

  • The Panel appreciates the applicant’s attempt to understand the neighbourhood. The Panel does however have some concerns with reviewing this proposal under Mainstreet (TM), rather than residential (R3) policies. The Panel is of the opinion that critical moves are necessary in order to better transition the building to the existing low-rise residential neighbourhood to the north, and to improve the corner condition to relate more appropriately to the Richmond Road commercial street.
  • The Panel strongly believes that the scale and mass of the building is too large for the size of the site, and that more appropriate setbacks and stepbacks are required, particularly on the north side of the lot, and at the corner facing Richmond Road.

Corner Treatment

  • Given that the southeast corner of the lot is quite visible from the Richmond Road commercial corridor. The Panel emphasizes the need to orient the building toward this important traditional main street. The Panel recommends eliminating the proposed signage and wrapping the glazing around the corner to create a front facing condition onto the public square. 
  • In addition to wrapping the glazing, the Panel advises that the building be setback to create an exterior area for a public place, such as a plaza or sitting area. It is the opinion of the Panel that this will help develop the building’s important relationship to Richmond Road.

Neighbourhood Transition

  • The Panel recommends that the building be lowered in height to four storeys, with the possibility of stepping back a fifth storey. This step back is particularly important on the north side, abutting the existing residential uses, where the Panel believes an increased separation between this building and the existing house is desirable.
  • To improve the transition toward the residential area to the north, consider introducing a driveway along the north side of the lot to establish more space between the proposed building and the house next door.
  • The Panel feels strongly that the lack of a landscaped buffer at the rear lot creates an unacceptable transition from this development to the adjacent lots to the rear. The Panel recommends reducing the size of the asphalt pad, and introducing landscaping to improve the impact on the rear neighbours.
  • The Panel suggests reducing the number of points of vehicular access to the site, immediately next to the residential neighbours. Ideally, the ramp to the underground parking could be accessed from the existing lane on the adjacent commercial property to the south, to reduce impact on adjacent residential neighbours.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed office units could work commercially. However, the applicant should consider live-work units at the ground floor as an alternative, as this is a transitional area between a main commercial street and an established residential area. 

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel suggests a more cohesive architectural language by reducing the ambiguity between horizontal and vertical expressions. A reduction in height to four storeys, with a clear step back to a fifth storey will help to achieve a more singular architectural language.
  • Generally, the use of brick is good, but the Panel recommends eliminating the use of brick on the top floors, thereby minimizing the visual impact of the top of the building on the streetscape.
  • The Panel sees a strong rhythm going north along Roosevelt, however the rhythm gets lost with the archways and disjointed window pattern. It is recommended that the arches are eliminated, so that the character and rhythm created by the ‘storefronts’ is carried across the front façade of the building.
  • The Panel believes that the cornice is a strong design element that can work well. Extend the cornice across the entire fourth floor of the building to help delineate the stepped back floors.
  • The Panel suggests that the two storey band can wrap around the corner to address Richmond Road, with the upper floors stepped back further.
  • The Panel appreciates the architectural detailing proposed, however suggests exploring opportunities to merge the heritage influences with a more contemporary style, to fit the context of this evolving neighbourhood.
  • The Panel appreciates the industrial style windows. It is advised that this window style be brought up from the base to the upper floors, simplifying the overall window expressions found on the building.
  • The Panel advises increasing the height of the ground floor to between 4.5 and 5 metres. Consider using only this heightened first floor as the band that is wrapped around to orient toward the Richmond Road commercial corridor. With this approach, all the floors above the first level can take on a distinct residential appearance.
  • The Panel notes that the mechanical room is absent on the elevations and advises the applicant to ensure that its impact is minimized.
  • It is recommended that the applicant work with hydro and other utility providers to eliminate the presence of messy cables, wood poles, screws, etc., where possible.
  • The Panel advises that the area of pavement, hardscape, the location of street trees, on-street parking, and drop off areas, be further studied and be more clearly articulated on the plans.

Access

  • The Panel has concerns with the location of the vehicular activity on the residential side of the lot. Explore the option of an easement allowance, or pull the building back to locate the ramp access between the adjacent commercial building and the proposed new building. It is the opinion of the Panel that moving the garage entrance to the rear is ideal.
  • The Panel feels strongly that there should be no layby along Roosevelt Avenue. Large street trees are needed, along with a wide sidewalk extending up to Richmond Road.
  • Consider shifting the main entrance to the residential units closer to the street. The current design could result in bicycles and other clutter accumulating in the inset.

March 1, 2018

929 Richmond Road | Formal Review | Zoning Amendment and Site Plan | Azure Urban Development Inc.; rla Architecture.

General Comments

  • The Panel recognizes the complexity of this site, which has three prominent edges, however is struggling with the radical changes from the previous proposal on the same property.  The Panel has some fundamental concerns with the height, the orientation of the building, and the proposed surface parking.
  • The Panel views the context of this site, defined by a church, funeral home, and a nine-storey residential building on the opposite corner of Richmond Road to the east, and concludes that the proposed development is too dense. The Panel sees too many unresolved elements with this proposal and recommends that the applicant return to the Panel for further input after addressing these recommendations.

Podium Expression

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed orientation of the commercial aspects of the building toward Woodroffe Avenue, rather than Richmond Road, does not establish a main street façade, and is inconsistent with the Richmond Road streetscape.
  • The Panel emphasizes the importance of reinforcing the traditional main street and recognizing the importance of this intersection by increasing the podium height. The proposed two stories feels squat and an increase in podium height will allow the building to hold the corner better.
  • The Panel recommends that the podium be a stronger element, which is oriented to Richmond Road, but wraps around to Woodroffe Avenue. It is important to acknowledge the geometry of this intersection with the design of the podium. Consider an L-shaped, podium building that establishes a very strong corner at Richmond and Woodroffe. An appropriate podium height here is between three and five stories high.
  • The Panel advises using larger windows along Richmond Road to strengthen this façade.
  • The Panel finds that the corner is currently undecided, and recommends studying a design with a strong podium expression aligned with Richmond Road, with the tower component aligned with Woodroffe Avenue.
  • The Panel believes there are opportunities to set back the building along Richmond Road and create useful exterior space for a plaza or café patio. Ensure that tree planting, bollards, utilities, etc. are coordinated to ensure a successful corner. Setting back the building along Richmond is more important than along Woodroffe.

Tower

  • The Panel finds the transition to the adjacent residential neighbourhood too abrupt. The Panel strongly believes a more gradual transition, reflecting a 45-degree angular plane, is needed.
  • The Panel finds that the footprint of the building is too large, and that the building reads like a slab – thus not acknowledging its urban role within the neighbourhood context.
  • There is some concern with the proposed height and a suggestion that the building be reduced in height to closer reflect what was previously approved. The Panel suggest that the same principles applied to the previously approved project, with respect to height, density and parking should also apply to this project.
  • The proposal reads like a dark grey slab, and the Panel recommends considering a stronger element such as a point tower on top of the podium.
  • The Panel does not support the proposed black brick cladding on the tower. There are some serious durability issues with respect to heat retention and brick spalling. Although black brick can be acceptable as a backdrop contrast element, the Panel finds its use as the primary cladding material is out of character and overly contrasting with the existing built environment, particularly next to the red brick building.

Landscape and Parking

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the private and public edge should be blurred. The Panel recommends eliminating the fence, and appling a landscape approach, which integrates the site with the adjacent pathway and residential neighbourhood. Connecting to the pathway will provide some amenity and ensure access for residents.
  • The Panel recommends eliminating the surface parking area, or perhaps reducing the parking to a single loaded parking lot adjacent to the property line. Generally, the area at the rear should be kept as green as possible, thereby improving the context for the ground level units.
  • The Panel suggests that the loading and parking entrance should be located on the north side of the lot.
  • The Panel recommends pushing the building back in order to create a stronger landscape presence on both Richmond Road and Woodroffe Avenue. Street trees should wrap around both frontages.
  • As a result of pushing the building back to the corner of Richmond and Woodroffe, a sunny outdoor space is established which benefits street trees and vegetation.

100-300 Steamline Street | Formal Review | Site Plan and Minor Variances | Ottawa Train Yards; Controlex Corporation; Neuf Architect(e)s.

General Comments

  • The Panel appreciates the effort put forth by the applicant, and commends the integrity of the process as the project has evolved. The master planning initiative and working with the UDRP and staff have been very important and have achieved results. The proposed typologies are very interesting and by taking cues from the master planning vision for the larger site, the Panel believes that the proposal can be successful.
  • The Panel emphasizes that private developments and streets become important elements of the public realm. Moreover, the Panel believes that there are opportunities to make broader connections with the surrounding area, particularly by planning for future north-south accesses between the proposed phased development and Industrial Avenue, where development is likely to occur in the future.

Site Circulation and Parking

  • The Panel has serious concerns with the proposed surface parking:
    • Using appropriate surface treatment and providing sufficient landscape can make this area feel like a plaza and not just functional parking lot. The Panel strongly recommends that the parking area be redesigned to be comfortable for pedestrians as well as functional spaces for community events.
    • The Panel advises that the edges of the parking area should relate better to the associated buildings. Integrate the parking lot into the landscape plan and consider locating entrances to the buildings adjacent to the lot.
    • More clearly define the drop off and delivery locations associated with each building.
  • The Panel has concerns with respect to the creation of large blocks. The larger development will require smaller blocks with good internal and external connections.
    • Strengthen the configuration of the street layout to reinforce the north-south street so that future extension to Industrial Avenue is possible. It is advised that an agreement in principle should be put in place to accommodate this future connection.
    • Another suggestion is to connect the east-west road directly to Sanford Flemming Avenue, perhaps with a right-in / right-out intersection.
  • It is the Panel’s opinion that the private streets should be designed to accommodate on-street parking on both sides, and should be conceptualized as city streets, not private lanes. On-street parking should also be introduced to Sir Sanford Flemming Avenue.
  • The Panel advises that garbage pick up should be handled on individual block sites, and not concentrated in one spot. The current layout negatively effects the potential for future development to the south, creating a ‘backdoor’ garbage condition. Perhaps garbage pick-up for the first phase can be located somewhere along the south side of the east building.

Form, Massing and Materials

  • With respect to the distance between the two Phase 1 towers, and the massing of the buildings, the Panel has some concerns that a symmetry is setting in, whereas the Panel prefers the more varied and offset rhythm represented by the sketches.
    • There are particular concerns with the relationship between the proposed 22-storey tower (to the east) and the future 25-storey tower in Phase 2. The Panel suggests offsetting the future tower, and introducing more variation in the typology to avoid creating a tunnel effect, particularly given the direction of the prevailing winds. Also, attempt to avoid units facing units where possible.
    • The Panel suggests a less rational approach to the architectural expressions, with stronger podiums, undulation and appropriate separation between towers, as seen in the sketches.
  • To reduce the slab expression, the Panel recommends breaking up the volume of the towers, and uses material changes that relate to geometric shifts in the building, rather than plane changes.
  • The Panel suggests pushing the west tower as close as possible toward Sir Sanford Flemming Avenue, in order to permit a larger open space between the two proposed buildings of Phase One.
  • To better line the north-west private street, the Panel suggests extending the east building southward. The podiums should establish a pleasant, urban streetscape.
  • One suggestion is to further break up the massing and the appearance of slab buildings by dropping down a couple of floors at the top, on half of the footprint, allowing for the creation of rooftops on the other half. This also would result in additional amenity area for residents.

Street Level Development and Landscape

  • The Panel suggests that the ground level units facing both the street and the parking areas should have steps leading to direct exterior access. This will help normalize an urban condition and a vibrant streetscape.
  • The Panel has concerns with the longevity of the proposed plantings. Find dead space within the underground parking lot in order to increase soil depths to accommodate deep planters above.
  • Given the proximity to the city’s train station, the entire development must be designed to carefully as a gateway site. On the site plan, consider broader connections such as access to parks, linkages to transit, schools and shopping. And contemplate areas where genuine public spaces can thrive and people can feel welcome.
  • The Panel suggests some flexibility in terms of the uses proposed in the at-grade units. Live-work units may be appropriate, and there is a possibility that offices may be viable in the future.
  • The courtyard space between the proposed buildings is too small to function as a park, but too large to work as an urban square. Reconfigure this space so that it can either be larger and function as a park, or be reduced in size and become a more distinctive space.
    • Ideally, the Panel suggests that the corner public space is reduced in size to function as an urban parkette, with the central courtyard area functioning as a park area for local residents.

Ottawa Hospital (930 Carling Avenue and 520 Preston Avenue) | Formal Review | Official Plan and Zoning Amendment | The Ottawa Hospital; HDR Architecture Associates Inc.

General Comments

  • The Panel is reviewing this proposal from the perspective of its impacts on the urban realm, and with respect to architectural design. The Panel does however acknowledge and appreciates the complexity and degree of effort that goes into a hospital project of this size, including long term operational and maintenance issues. The Panel understands that the full build out of the hospital, projected to be somewhere between 2.73 and 4.5 million square feet by 2047-2048, is dependant on a future needs assessment, as well as budgets and policy decisions at the provincial level. 
  • The Panel is concerned with the scale of the proposed development and finds that the project is of a completely different scale than the surrounding neighbourhood. As such, the Panel recommends key moves and further analysis to help preserve some of the existing character along the Prince of Wales Drive edge and to better integrate the hospital with the Experimental Farm context. Another important consideration of the Panel is the impact of the hospital on Carling Road, and the adjacent Carling-Preston neighbourhood to the north.
  • The views, key distances, and analysis of how the project affects the Capital landscape and surrounding neighbourhood are needed in order for the UDRP to provide fulsome comments on the proposal. It is strongly recommended that the applicant return to the Panel as the project advances, with a submission that includes several renderings showing key views from a variety of perspectives, especially those with Capital significance.

Massing and Architectural Concept

  • The Panel has concerns with the scale of the proposal presented; particularly considering the initial presentation eluded to a Scandinavian approach to a hospital complex – at a much more human scale. The size and massing of the proposed building has the potential to create a significant barrier in the form of a large wall that is disconnected and out of scale with the existing fabric nearby.
  • The Panel has some concerns with the interpretation of the ‘Town and Crown’ approach to this proposal. For example, Parliament Hill opens itself up to the city whereas the current oval, circular building plan is insular and puts the existing neighbourhood to the north at the periphery, having negative implications for the urban realm. In addition to being highly visible, the entrances to the complex could also be surrounded by plazas, which are welcoming for people.
  • The Panel recommends that key site priorities with respect to the urban realm, which reflect a more civic approach, are established and brought into the planning context going forward. The Panel is looking for public spaces around the facility.
  • One suggestion is to consider flipping the oval so that it plays off the ridge. With the west oval flipped, the building works better with the topography of the land and improves the relationship with the street edge, articulating a clearer arrival point for the public.

Carling Road and Urban Integration

  • The Panel suggests that the massing of the proposed oval structure is broken down to reduce impacts on the character along Carling Avenue.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that some land along Carling Avenue should be used for buildings facing Carling, ensuring this urban street has two sides, and the hospital complex has a friendlier edge toward the neighbourhood.
    • The buildings would form an edge along the street to contribute to the urban fabric, rather than relate directly to the hospital site. These building could be as low as two storeys.
    • The Panel suggests that buildings along Carling Avenue would allow for an interface with the surrounding city, and could accommodate a variety of services related to the hospital, such as chiropractic, practitioners, pharmacies, etc.

Experimental Farm and Prince of Wales Drive Context

  • The massing as viewed from Prince of Wales Drive should be broken up to avoid significantly altering the character of this important Ottawa landscape; defined by the federal roadway, the Experimental Farm and Dows Lake.
  • The Panel expressed serious concerns with the impacts of the proposed development on Prince of Wales Drive with respect to the entrances and the limited setback. The current proposal results in a strong built form edge along the Drive. The Panel recommends this impact be reduced by significantly increasing the setback and limiting vehicular access from Prince of Wales Drive.
  • The Panel admires the attempt to preserve the treed ridge, but finds it likely impossible given the location and scale of the proposed oval building. Consider instead a reinterpretation of this feature elsewhere on the site.
  • The Panel is appreciative of the gesture to include considerable greenspace and park like spaces within the development but is concerned that this approach compromises the public spaces surrounding the development.

Sustainability

  • The Panel would appreciate more analysis on specific sustainability considerations, such as energy consumption, roof resilience, and linkages to transit. Very large hospital campuses often become car destinations, so smaller campuses are ideal in order to promote alternative transportation modes.
  • The Panel suggests that variations in the height of the buildings are introduced to address the impacts of prevailing winds on the site.
  • The Panel views the green roof favourably, but there are some concerns about whether the space will be designed in such a way that it is easily accessible and well used. An appropriate planting program is important.

3030 St. Joseph  Boulevard | Formal Review | Minor Zoning Amendment | Orleans Heights Development (Torgan Group); Fotenn Planning + Design; rla Architecture.

General Comments

  • The Panel sees the proposal as an interesting piece of architecture that fills the unusually configured site. There are however some serious concerns with respect to the proposed density. The Panel does not believe there is sufficient rational for height beyond the six to eight storey range, and would therefore expect a revision to the proposal to show a lowered height.

Massing, Height and Architectural Expression

  • When considering the top floor amenity, and the St. Joseph Boulevard elevation, the Panel sees this as a 14-storey building. It is the opinion of the Panel that the proposal represents overbuilding of the site, and recommends that eight stories is the maximum height in order for the building to fit its context at the edge of a low-density residential neighbourhood.
  • The Panel suggests that the tower portion of the building fronts St. Joseph Boulevard, with a lower podium located along Duford Drive, thereby shifting density away from the residential side of the lot. The current distribution of massing results in an imposition to the established residential area to the south.
  • The Panel suggests that the corner element of the building could be redesigned to be more slender.

Amenity, Landscape and Streetscape

  • The Panel advises the applicant further explore the podium expression, and consider increasing the podium height to two-storeys in order to reflect the built form along St. Joseph Boulevard.
  • The Panel suggests moving the lobby to the far west of the building along St. Joseph Boulevard as to avoid breaking up the retail space.
  • Given the substantial change in grade, special attention must be paid to the interaction between the sidewalks and the building, particularly where wrapping around the corner.
  • In order for the retail spaces to be successful, the Panel emphasizes the need to coordinate lights, sidewalks, crossings, and other related streetscape elements.
  • The Panel suggests that the introduction of a podium along Duford creates an opportunity to create a beautiful landscaped rooftop amenity terrace, taking advantage of the slope and triangular lot shape.
  • The Panel has concerns that utilitarian functionality of the building is not clearly articulated on the plans and strongly suggests these issues are resolved.
  • The Panel advises that hydro utility issues are carefully considered and solved early, given the condition of the soil in the area, and the slope of the site.

890-900 Bank Street | Formal Review | Site Plan Control | Hobin Architects Inc.; Fotenn Planning + Design; Canderel; Amica Mature Lifestyles.

General Comments

  • The Panel is appreciative of the challenges associated with the project, and will provide comments that are limited to the refinement of the design, and not those relating to the massing.
  • The Panel feels that the project is thoughtfully compatible with the street, and relates well to the nearby Lansdowne Development. With careful attention to all elements of the streetscape, the building will be a positive addition to the rejuvenating Bank Street.
  • The Panel suggests that in addition to some changes to the proposed materials and the expression of the four-storey building, the applicant reconsider the signage on the neighbourhood side of the building. It is the wrong scale for the neighbourhood, and is inappropriate from a design compatibility perspective. 
  • The Panel is supportive of the relocation of the parking and drop off area to Monk Street, and in favour of the introduction of stone.

Material Refinement

  • The Panel has serious concerns with the proposed use of EIFS, particularly with respect to its durability and visual appearance. The Panel strongly recommends using brick.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the HVAC system needs to be redesigned so that the grills are incorporated as a part of the window system. The brick façade should be kept clean and clear.
  • In order to reduce the visual impact of the top two floors, the Panel suggests using a lighter colour material as opposed to the proposed dark cladding, or work to simplify the design. Any effort to calm the penthouse element would be appreciated.
  • In more advanced design drawings, the Panel suggests paying close attention to the underside of the balconies, as the perception from the street is important.

Four-Storey Element

  • The top of the four-storey element finishes abruptly. The Panel suggests adding a capping element to improve the design on Bank Street façade. 
  • The Panel suggest taking the brick up to the third floor, leaving the fourth floor to appear visually distinct from the three-storey base. This could improve the impact of this part of the building along Bank Street.
  • Consider shifting the awnings so that they are below the sills of the second floor windows, and extend the use of the awnings across the entire front façade of the building.

Chateau Laurier (1 Rideau Street) | Formal Review | Site Plan and Heritage Permit | Larco Investments; Capital Holdings Limited; Architects Alliance; Momentum Planning and Communications.

General Comments

  • The Panel is generally supportive of the proposed massing, and sees the contemporary expression of a bar building facing the park as a strong expression and a good move – particularly from a public realm perspective. The Panel does however see opportunities to further refine the massing and improve the relationship between the proposed addition and Major’s Hill Park, the Rideau Canal, as well as adjacent streetscapes and important view sheds.
  • The Panel is cognisant of the delicate balance of finding an appropriate contrast between the original heritage structure, and the new addition, but the Panel believes that thoughtful measures to introduce more stone, resulting in less contrast, could improve the proposal.
  • In order for the UDRP to play a key role for such an important project, the Panel suggests that the applicant attend a Focused Design Review session, which would include some Panel members, as well as key resources from the City and National Capital Commission.

Design Approach

  • The Panel is supportive of the lowered height and the contemporary design principles applied by the applicant. Furthermore, the intention to design an addition that primarily responds to Major’s Hill Park, as opposed to appearing primarily as an annex to the Chateau, is understood and appreciated by the Panel.
  • The Chateau Laurier is viewed by residents of Ottawa as a public building, and therefore the Panel is very appreciative of the improvements to the internal courtyards, as well as the clear, logical wayfinding established through the building.
  • The Panel advises further study to explore opportunities for more direct access to Major’s Hill Park from the hotel.
  • The Panel suggests that there may be opportunities to engage both the park and the building, particularly along the interior gallery and the exterior colonnade. One suggestion is to extend the ramp to a new exterior platform with the intent of improving functional linkages between the interior and exterior of the building in the northwest corner of the site.
  • The Panel is very supportive of the visible distinction between the original hotel and the new addition on both the west elevation (canal side), and the east elevation (Mackenzie Avenue). The view from Mackenzie is particularly successful with the incorporation of an easily read plinth   where the building steps out.
  • The design intent of the original hotel and its early addition was for the building to be viewed with a foreground, middle ground and focal point.
    • One suggestion from a Panel member is to revise the design to reflect a more aggressive interpretation of this original intent. Improve the north elevation by introducing different planes, and visual elements to disrupt the simplicity of the bar form, and ensure that key architectural elements of the original hotel are not obstructed when viewed from the park. The Panel believes these interventions can be achieved while holding true to the applicant’s philosophical approach to the project.
  • Explore ways to better integrate any penthouse and mechanical projections into the building – given the bar building design approach, the Panel is of the opinion that a completely flat roof is preferable. If possible, move the mechanical elements to the basement.  
  • Work to enhance the Mackenzie entrance to the addition so that it is clearly articulated and welcoming to tourists.

Materiality

  • The Panel understands the challenge in terms of using stone and masonry while building an addition with a clearly contemporary expression. It is recommended that the proposed materiality be further explored, with the intent of finding opportunities to incorporate more masonry in combination with the proposed glass.
    • One opportunity is to bring across the datum line established above the ground floor of the west elevation of the Chateau, and use stone above this line.
    • Study the use of stone for vertical elements to frame the glass and add a sense of calmness to the design.
  • The Panel believes there are other opportunities to respond to datum lines and cornices, which would result in the addition to still appear detached and respectful, but better relate to the existing hotel. Consider introducing stone at the base of the addition, and establishing horizontal lines, to help achieve a stronger linkage.

View Impacts

  • It is the opinion of the Panel that there are opportunities to tweak the massing, particularly on the canal side. Consider adjusting the alignment and treatment of the west façade by pulling in the addition away from the canal, thereby opening up more of the original west elevation of the hotel from several vantage points, including; Major’s Hill Park, and the Rideau Canal Locks.
    • In addition to exposing more of the face of the Chateau, the removal of the two units at the west end of the corridor (Floors 2-6) allows for a more interesting interpretation of the northwest corner of the building.
  • The Panel recommends introducing an increased stepback on the seventh and eighth Floors to reduce their visual impact from several vantage points.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that incorporating more masonry - particularly on the vertical elements of the west elevation will greatly improve the compatibility of the addition with the original Chateau. As a result, the Panel believes the visual experience of the hotel will improve from Major’s Hill Park, and Mackenzie Avenue near the United States Embassy, as well as from the York Street Steps.
  • The Panel emphasizes the critical importance of lighting to the success of the project and anticipates that further studies will follow. Avoid too much glow, and anticipate the visibility from the Interprovincial Bridges and Vieux-Hull.  

February 1, 2018

Albert-Slater Street Functional Design Study | Formal Review | City Infrastructure Project | Transportation Services; City of Ottawa

General Comments

  • Street redesigns are some of the most challenging projects from an urban design perspective given the number of stakeholders involved, and the Panel commends the applicant for taking this transportation plan to the UDRP. Further, the Panel recognizes that it is extremely challenging to implement a long-term vision in an interim condition.
  • Having the opportunity to discuss this project at the Panel is a sign that the City takes its responsibility of creating urban places very seriously. The Panel is generally supportive of the broad design measures put forward in this proposal, and appreciates the division of the project into three distinct sections.
  • The Panel very much appreciates the analysis associated with the Mackenzie Bridge section, including the clear identification of the viewsheds, focal points, and the identification of the approaches. The central part of the study area between the Mackenzie Bridge and the west section are also special parts of the downtown core, and it is the Panel’s opinion that they too merit a similar level of analysis.
  • Given the complexity of the project, the lengthy timelines, and the varied stakeholders, the Panel strongly recommends that the City’s Transportation group work to foster partnerships as the project moves forward. Establishing clear processes and ensuring streamlined communication can help build trust and transparency with the public and with affected businesses and property owners. A good communication strategy can safeguard support for the project as it proceeds.

Place Making

  • The Panel strongly believes that the project presents opportunities to think very carefully about transportation functionality, while also capitalizing on place making opportunities. Identifying prospective locations for new plazas and other public spaces can have the effect of creating a framework, where future private development can integrate into this vision.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that an interpretive master plan for the entire effected streetscape should be drafted in association with this project. The master plan should include a lighting plan, and the location of future monuments, as examples – and the general approach should be to work towards a city design, rather than a federally inspired design. Thematic development can be derived from, or associated with notable Ottawa figures, and other cultural heritage, which reflect the city’s municipal language. This design theme could apply to light poles, bus stops, street signs, etc. and should read consistently along the lengths of the streets in order to establish a unique, but consistent design language along the subject streetscapes.
  • The Panel sees wayfinding and signage as very important components of this project that should be further developed.
  • Through analysis of sightlines, view corridors, heritage buildings, and the location of major institutional buildings, the Panel suggests speculating about the most meaningful areas of the study area. Special design attention should be focused on these areas.
  • The Panel considers the proposed public library as an enormously monumental development, directly affecting the west section of the project. The new roads, and their relationship to the library site, can represent important healing from the urban blight and neglect of the past that has affected parts of this area of the city. Specific design direction should result from careful analysis of the slopes and grade changes, to ensure effective movement from Slater Street to Bronson Avenue. This flow should be elegant, and void of competing interests. The Panel emphasizes that the reconstruction of the road network in this location will result in a critical connection between the downtown core and the redeveloping Lebreton Flats neighbourhood.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that both Albert and Slater Streets represent crucial western gateways into the downtown core. Beyond right-of-way design and functionality – the Panel suggests that the massing, shapes and architectural expressions of buildings along these important roads, are also critical to the overall urban design success.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the majority of the public art investments are best directed to Mackenzie Bridge, as well as the west section of the project, near the future library. These sections act as important gateways into the downtown core.
  • Consider the introduction of more Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) throughout the project area.

Functionality

  • Given that the project is a combination of interim and long-term measures, and is responding to the future LRT system, the Panel is very supportive of the approach presented which allows for certain aspects of the street functionality to morph over time. The Panel is also appreciative of the pedestrian thought that has gone into the overall design.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that a crucial element of the west section of this project is to create sensible, seamless connections to the new LRT station at Lebreton Flats. Pay close attention to the grades, and ensure a strong, well thought out relationship between the reconstructed right-of-ways, and the future station.
  • The detailed technical drawings show potential conflict between cyclists and transit users embarking and disembarking from buses, given that the cycle tracks are located on the same side of the street as the bus stops. Ensure there is relatively continuous flow of the diverse users of the right-of-ways through the core.
  • The Panel advises the applicant that there will likely be concerns with impacts on the availability of on-street parking. Ensure good communication and simple signage with respect to on-street parking availability, as well as parking alternatives.
  • Explore public-private strategies with respect to establishing effective wayfinding.
  • The Panel strongly supports an approach to the project that allows considerable flexibility, allowing the City to respond appropriately to issues as that arise as the project evolves.
  • Drop-off space is becoming more and more important, and the Panel recommends planning so that sufficient area is set aside for drop-offs and pick-ups.
  • The Panel sees the west section as the most challenging aspect of the project and suggests establishing a design principle regarding clarity and continuity. The current proposal shows many changes in curbs, angular streets and relatively complex lines. Simplify moments along the west section of Albert and Slater in order to improve the safety of the users, and establish better continuity.
  • The Panel strongly recommends that the applicant ensure that the redesigned downtown portion of the streets are flowing with minimal disruption. It is crucial that traffic flow is not hampered by deliveries, or other user conflicts. Apply a flexible approach and ensure that the redesigned streets do not create daily aggravation for their users.

 

January 11, 2018

1976 Scott Street and 320 McRae | Formal Review | Major Zoning Amendment | Roderick Lahey Associates Inc.

General Comments

  • The Panel recognizes the reoccurring urban design dilemma faced by development projects adjacent to future LRT stations along this line; appropriately transitioning to the existing low-rise residential area.
  • The Panel is supportive of the evolution of this project, particularly with respect to the built form. The Panel’s comments seek to refine certain aspects of the proposal, including the tower width on the north and south elevation, the corner condition, and the quality of the pedestrian realm. The project, with some adjustments, can positively contribute to the evolving high-rise character of this section of Scott Street.

Tower Expression

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed tower is too wide from the north and south elevation. Squaring the tower, as opposed to the current rectangular expression would result in a slimmer profile, thus reducing the slab appearance.
  • The reduction in the width of the tower, and the introduction of variations and breaks in the Scott Street façade should be implemented in the zoning. The adjustment to the form can be achieved, in part, through the rearranging of stairs and elevators – and a slimmer form would result in a reduction in the need for material changes.
  • The Panel believes that some additional height to the tower could be acceptable from an urban design perspective if designed appropriately, and it could provide an opportunity to introduce a more dynamic top to the building that could include penthouse units.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that balconies along the west elevation should be integrated into the main face of the tower.
  • The podium should be clearly articulated at the corner of Scott Street and Tweedsmuir Avenue. The Panel believes that the zoning should ensure that the vertical expression of the tower does not begin immediately at the corner.

Ground Floor and Pedestrian Environment

  • The Panel discussed the merits of expanding the site area. In particular, the adjacent lot immediately to the south along Tweedsmuir Avenue. This would allow for the creation of a pathway linking Tweedsmuir Avenue to McRae Street. Barring this, a laneway through the lot, as narrow as 1.2m in width, would allow for a distinct pedestrian circulation through the site, creating a pleasant buffer between the high-rise portion of the site and the low-rise residential character to the south.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that the McRae Street building edge should be recessed in order to create a wider promenade, with a double row of trees in front of the ground level retail units. This would significantly increase the quality of the retail environment and the streetscape.
  • The Panel suggests reducing the length of the four-storey building along McRae Street in order to increase the size of the proposed park.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the height of the ground floor retail units along McRae should be increased in order to appropriately accommodate commercial uses.

Neighbourhood Transition

  • The Panel believes there is a need for some design cohesion amongst the new tower developments along Scott Street. Consider a six-storey podium, which could act as a datum line along the block, which could be picked up by future projects.
  • The Panel has some varying opinions regarding the transition from the proposed tower to the existing low-density residential neighbourhood to the south along Tweedsmuir Avenue. The Panel points out that the three-storey townhouse units do not directly relate to either the proposed tower to the north, or the existing house forms to the south, however a housing form of three to five stories may be successful at this location. Consider allowing for more breathing room between these units and the allée.

340 Huntmar Drive | Site Plan Control Application | Microtel Kanata Inn and Suites by Wyndham; Dredge Leahy Architects Inc.

General Comments

  • The Panel appreciates the opportunity to comment on this important addition to the Kanata Town Centre, and understands the challenges associated with carefully balancing the architectural expression as it relates to the particular aspects of the site’s context, with regimented corporate standards. Despite this, the Panel feels strongly that this proposal represents an opportunity for the proponent elevate the Microtel corporate brand as it enters the national capital market, particularly on this property, which acts as a gateway site with the Kanata Town Centre.
  • It is a mandate of this Panel that buildings must face the public street. As such, the Panel does not support the approach presented, which aligns the street edge with the rear side of the hotel. The Panel strongly advises that the building be flipped so that the front faces Huntmar Drive. It is the Panel’s opinion that the facing the front of the building toward the street is a critical urban design starting point.

Architectural Expression and Building Orientation

  • The Panel strongly recommends flipping the building, so that the front faces Huntmar Drive, while the parking area abuts the rear of the hotel. The rear façade can still function as the location of an entrance to the hotel for those arriving by car, but this entrance should be secondary to the street facing entrance.
  • Relocating the main entrance to the Huntmar Drive façade should include the addition of a canopy, and possibly a glass block feature, and other design elements that give visual prominence to this entrance along the street. Attempts to bring surprise and delight to the streetscape, through architectural detailing at the main entrance, would be appreciated by the Panel.
  • Consider ways to enhance the window surrounds and the cornice along Huntmar Drive in order to add some colour to the overall expression.
  • The Panel recommends relocating the tower element, along with other architectural elements associated with the front entrance, to the Huntmar Drive façade. Align the tower with the entrance.
  • With respect to the pool area, the Panel suggests increasing the size of the windows, possibly enclosing the waterslide entirely in glass, with the intent of creating a memorable visual beacon at this corner of the property. This will distinguish the overall expression of the hotel and help to animate its presence on the street. Consider cladding the pool pavilion with brick to differentiate it from the rest of the hotel.
  • Consider bringing up the brick cladding on the main part of the hotel to the third floor of the building (the grey line).

Landscape and Amenity

  • The Panel strongly believes that a Landscape Architect is required in order for the project to be successful. Landscape is of particular importance given the extensive, well-integrated, and lush landscape features on the Tanger Outlet property across the street, as well as the opportunity provided by the lots’ adjacency to a creek. Try to integrate the existing landscape context into the site.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that more trees and shrubs should be planted along the Huntmar Drive edge in order to bring more landscape interest to the front of the property.

99 Fifth Court | Formal Review | Minor Zoning Amendment | Minto; Tact Architecture Inc.; FOTENN Planning & Design

General Comments

  • The Panel commends the applicant on a well thought out and rational proposal on a very important traditional commercial block in the city’s Glebe neighbourhood. Fundamentally, the Panel appreciates the gesture of preserving the existing brick commercial building along Bank Street. The Panel believes that the critical objective of this development must be its successful integration into the Fourth and Fifth Avenue streetscape, as well as a design that is sensitive to the existing Bank Street commercial block. The Panel is of the opinion that the current proposal needs significant improvements in order to express itself appropriately as a background building that emphasizes the visual primacy of the historic street façade. It is recommended that this application return to the Panel in order to review further refinements to the proposal.

Heritage Context and Design

  • The Panel commends the applicant for the appropriate use of natural and natural looking materials, such as stone and synthetic wood, which will integrate the new construction well with the existing heritage commercial row.
  • The Panel recommends using red brick on the first two levels of the new building, along the Fourth and Fifth Avenue façades, to ensure continuity with the existing building along Bank Street, and to connect the building to the character of the residential streetscapes to the east. Also, consider using stone on the foundations to reflect the material patterns of the nearby houses.
  • Overall, neutral colours and materials are important to maintain contextual cohesion.
  • In order to give the building a quieter expression and better respect the heritage character of the neighbourhood, the Panel is of the opinion that the upper stories, beyond the two-storey datum line, should be recessed. The upper stories of the building should be simple in their expression to allow the building to function visually as a backdrop. This would allow for a reduction in the roof massing, permitting the mechanical room to be centred, and surrounded by amenity space, thereby improving the visual experience of the building from elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
  • Appropriately integrating the new building into the existing residential neighbourhood is crucial. The Panel recommends establishing a clear two-storey datum line across both the Fourth and Fifth Avenue facades, to align with the two-and-a-half storey houses that line these streets. The datum lines can be established by the roofs of direct access townhouse units fronting the streets, and can reflect a contemporary expression. The setback of the building at the ground level, on both the north and south façades, should be generally flush with the houses to the east.
  • The Panel is concerned with the contrast of the massing between the new and existing building, particularly as viewed from the northwest. There is a 90-degree angle where the west facing façade extends upward, to the top of the building, from the existing heritage structure. Consider stepping back upper floors of the building so that the massing contrast is less stark.
  • The composition of the balconies is distracting in its current form. The Panel recommends integrating balconies into the façades of the new building, thereby making the vertical bands more prominent, and establishing a simplified vertical alignment on the north and south façades. 
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the visibility of the heritage building would be enhanced if the lobby to the residential units were pushed back beyond the wall of the existing building. The design of the entrance could also be simplified as to not detract from the heritage building at this corner.

Laneway and Outdoor Amenity

  • The Panel recommends that the outdoor amenity area proposed between the existing and the new building is reconsidered to ensure that the space is activated and useful for its users.
  • The Panel is concerned with the proposed diagonal parking spots along the rear laneway. The pedestrian experience can be ameliorated by eliminating these parking spaces, or converting them to parallel spaces, and introducing direct access to the ground level studio units facing the rear of the lot.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the applicant should conceptualize the rear lane as a Woonerf, where its treatment and functionality create a welcoming public space that clearly prioritizes pedestrians. The connection between Fourth and Fifth Avenue could include vehicular use, but the design should ensure slow speeds for these users.

386 Richmond | Formal Review | Site Plan Control Application | rla/architecture; FOTENN Planning & Design

General Comments

  • The Panel recognizes the challenges associated with this narrow property, and commends the proponent for presenting a good overall design, with an appropriate use of cladding material. This model of development is of interest to the Panel; however, there are some concerns associated with the replicability of this proposal on other lots within the vicinity, given constraints associated with building setbacks and potentially limited separation distances between buildings.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the proposed 16 residential units is very ambitious given the site constraints. Specifically, the three-metre rear yard setback to an abutting lot could be problematic for future development to the rear.

Architectural Detailing

  • It is the Panel’s opinion that the proposed metal panel board cladding material is appropriate. However, given the visibility on the east and west sides of proposed six-storey structure, the Panel recommends exploring options for improving the appearance of the side facades. Pursue solutions involving digital printing, mural designs, or adding texture, as this represents an important gesture to the neighbourhood.
  • To add cohesion to the front façade, the Panel recommends echoing the main commercial window proposed on the first floor, on the upper levels of the building as well.
  • To further enhance the aesthetic quality of the building, the Panel suggests adding colour to the soffits, or to other visible architectural elements.

Context and Replicability

  • The Panel recognizes that an important challenge associated with this site is maintaining street continuity. It is the opinion of the Panel that the recess of the façade at the building entrance should be reduced. Bringing the entrance closer to the sidewalk will allow the building to better align with the existing buildings on Richmond Road, thus maintaining the existing rhythm on the street, as defined by building entrances.
  • The rear setback is highly problematic if a development is proposed on the lot at the rear. The Panel asks that an increase to this setback be considered. If the rear lot were developed in a similar way, there would only be six metres separation between the structures, seriously compromising the quality of life for residents of both buildings. Typically, a minimum of six-metres is the required rear setback to ensure sufficient sunlight, with an ideal of 7.5 metres.
  • Given the site context and the potential for similar development on the adjacent properties to the east and west, the Panel suggests that the glazing and light should extend from the front and rear of the building, with the sidewalls remaining solid.
  • As a potential model to consider, the Panel suggests looking at the Belgian narrow house form, designed with high ceilings that allow for penetration of light deep into the interior.

Functionality

  • The Panel is of the opinion that bicycle parking should be at grade. Moving the entrance closer to the street could allow for a reconfiguration of the interior layout of the ground floor, thus allowing space for bicycle parking.