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Panel recommendations

The City’s Design Review Panel meets the first Thursday of every month at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa. Recommendations from the Formal Design Review are provided here.

July 12, 2019

89 Richmond Road | Formal Review | Official Plan and Zoning Amendment, and a Site Plan to construct a six-storey mixed-use building. | DSWL; rla / architecture; SAAISH Inc.; Fotenn Planning + Design.

Summary

  • The Panel is supportive of the narrative behind the partie, however finds there are opportunities to better translate the concept into the architectural expression. The Panel acknowledges the challenge of elegantly integrating the commercial floors with the residential floors above, but believes improvements can be made to the front façade.
  • The Panel has concerns with the tightness of the site relative to the proposed volume and programmatic goals of the building. It is the opinion of the Panel that four stories is the appropriate height for this property, unless the top two floors are designed with effective sculpting that does not exacerbate the urban canyon condition that currently exists on this block.
  • Consider scoping the program to reduce the size of the building, as the proposed model for redevelopment results in a massing that is oppressive on the street and affects the quality of life for residents within this building, as well as those in the residential building to the west.
  • The Panel also notes some impacts toward the existing low-rise dwellings to the rear, and has some minor concerns with respect to site functionality.

Massing and Replicability

  • The Panel finds that the proposed development is too dense and results in the overbuilding of the lot. The six-storey massing is precedent setting, and the Panel has concerns that the narrow frontage, and lack of depth of the lot creates issues for this site with respect to garbage pickup, loading, etc. that are not reasonably accommodated on this property, as they are on other much larger sites nearby.
    • The Panel des not find the proposal replicable on similar sites within this context, and recommends taking steps to reduce the proposed massing.
    • The current design leads t quality of life issues for residents of this building, where windows on the west side of the building directly face the existing residential building. The same quality of life issues are exported externally to the sites to the east and west of the building.
  • Although it is the Panel’s opinion that a four storey building is more appropriate on this site, and easier to construct, the Panel does believe a six storey building may be possible with sculpting of the top two floors, and a reduction of the unit count within the residential portion.
    • One suggestin is to reduce the residential component to two units per floor, creating some breathing room, while ensuring windows have access to views.
    • Carve int the building at the sides so that the bedrooms on both sides of the building have windows that face the front or rear.
  • The Panel has concerns about the impacts of the rear canopies on the low-rise properties to the north.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel suggests that the volumes need to be broken down in order to avoid contributing to the ‘canyon effect’ on this section of Richmond Road.
  • The Panel suggests that the front façade requires some work to better demarcate between the commercial uses on the first two floors and the residential uses above. There is a lack or coordination as the base of the building feels lighter while the top is heavier.
    • Pick up n the two storey datum line established by the condo building to the west, and the cornice of the building to the east.
    • Simple, deep punched frames will help t differentiate the residential use from the spa below.
  • The Panel is appreciative of the inspiration for the openings, and the idea of marrying the residential and commercial openings. However, the Panel suggests bringing the Juliette balcony guards in so that they do not protrude outward from the wall.
  • The Panel recommends setting back the upper floors on east and west, sculpting the upper floors to provide massing relief, and thereby reducing the area of blank wall along the east façade.
  • The Panel suggests that the curtain-wall should lap the slab edges, and feels strongly that this should not be value engineered out of this project.
  • Given the narrow width of the façade, the Panel suggests reconsidering the residential entrance. The current approach is to hide the residential entrance from the spa entrance, and keep this entry secondary - perhaps there can be a shared entrance instead.

Zen Garden and Functionality

  • The Panel expresses some concern with the fact that the zen garden will be walled off and in shadow most of the time. The Panel also sees the zen garden as acting more as a light-well than a garden as people can only walk along the paved section, as the skylights limit the area of use.
  • One idea from a Panel member is to set the building back and bring the zen garden to the front, potentially with an indoor / outdoor component. This will make the garden visible from the street, and might attract customers to the spa.
  • The Panel expressed some issues with the functionality of garbage on this tight site.
  • The Panel highlighted a potential conflict with the location of bike storage and the lower level entrance to the spa, as bikes can be quite muddy many times of the year.

 

Algonquin College – 1385 Woodroffe Avenue | Formal Review | Site Plan to permit the construction of a recreational and administrative facility on Algonquin College’s campus | HOK Architects Corporation; Algonquin College.

Summary

  • The Panel is concerned with how this proposed building fits into the future campus context. Fundamentally, the Panel believes that the adjacent ‘North Service Road’ should be viewed as an important campus street, rather than a service road. Therefore, the Panel strongly believes that some major aspects of the design require revisiting, and in particular the Panel suggests studying other loading options to ensure that the building’s interface with the street is not dominated by loading activities.
  • The Panel is concerned with the proposed pedestrian bridge location, as there is a missed opportunity to use the bridge to define the public spaces below. Generally, the Panel believes that public spaces created by this building need clearer definition across the site.
  • The Panel suggests that the area along the southern edge of the building, along the parking area, needs significant landscape refinement.
  • The Panel appreciates the vision as set out by the campus masterplan, which is a document of high quality showing commendable aspirations. The Panel recommends improving the architectural expression of the building to reflect the standards expressed in the campus masterplan.

Relationship to Street

  • The Panel believes there is an opportunity to engage the building in a more appropriate way with the adjacent street. Given the width of the road, the Panel suggests aspiring to elevate ‘North Service Road’ to become a dynamic campus street, as opposed to treating this road as a service road.
  • It is the Panel’s opinion that the loading dock requires relocation as it is across from the entrance to the residence building. The current location significantly compromises the views from the residence building, and precludes the activation of the streetscape in this part of the campus.
    • The Panel suggests either re-lcated, or tightening and pushing back the loading area so that it is not such a dominate feature.
    • Cnsider shifting the building further east, moving the stairs, and then moving the loading area to the northeast corner of the building. This allows the introduction of glazing along the street.
    • In rder to better relate this building to the Student Commons Building next door, consider swapping the location of the fitness area with the student life and amenity space, and creating an entrance to the building that brings people into this space and faces the entrance to the Student Commons Building. Establish an east-west spine in the building’s floor plan that reinforces this new entrance.
  • The Panel suggests carefully considering the quality of the materials that will frame the street.

Public Spaces and Landscape

  • The Panel suggests investing in the landscape along the south of the building. Ideally, eliminate one row of parking and increase the soft landscaping in this location, creating a double row of trees between the sidewalk and parking lot, rather than planting the trees next to the building.
  • Revisit the master plan to consider a more systematic approach to the open space network. The Panel suggests that the space between this proposed building and the Student Commons Building has the opportunity to become an important campus commons.
  • The Panel recommends further rationalization of the angles of the paths and building angles. The proposed scheme has no central quad or clear gathering space, the overhead passage does not follow the ground paths, and the entrance walkway does not match up with the base of the building. Organize these elements for improved wayfinding.
  • The Panel recommends squaring the building at the northwest corner in order to better shape the public spaces, and the overhead passage.
  • The Panel suggests locating the overhead pedestrian link to help achieve objectives relating to framing the public space below, rather than fragmenting or cutting through the space.
  • The Panel suggests working on improving the relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces in order to promote wayfinding on the site.
  • The Panel suggests further study is required on how the proposed paths, and the larger campus path network, connect people to the transit station to the north.
  • The Panel is concerned with the northeast blank wall, as there is no room for vegetation. Revise this area and add climbing vines and evergreens to ensure that it is not a dead corner.
  • The Panel suggests considering Indigenous place making concepts for the proposed greenspace that can become a focal point of campus.
  • Consider integrating the sloped swale as an amenity feature rather than simply an engineering element.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel appreciates the handsome lines of the building but recommends adding more colour. The warm tones seen in the campus master plan illustrations should be reference. Considering this is a student building, the Panel suggests enlivening the architecture and avoiding somber greys and blacks as much as possible.
    • Lightening the building will allw the play of shadows to be more noticeable.
    • The use f dark materials has a very detrimental impact on heat gain, and can discolour very quickly. For this reason, the colour palette is also a very important consideration as it relates to sustainability.
  • The Panel suggests more study on how to engage the building architecturally with the Student Commons Building next door. This is particularly pertinent on the left side of the building, where the proposed pedestrian plaza separates the buildings.
  • The Panel supports the prominent glass element of the building, but suggests adding more windows on the voids, and introducing vertical windows along the gym walls, as well as clearstorey windows at grade to allow pedestrians to look down into the gym.
  • The Panel agrees with the use of wood for sun-shading devices as it adds more life to the building, however, suggests lightening up the canopy to avoid a fortress appearance.

 

Zibi, Block 211 – 3 Booth Street | Formal Review | Site Plan to permit an eight-storey office building on Chaudière Island as part of the Zibi master plan | KPMB Architects; Windmill; DREAM Ontario 211 LP; Adamson Associates Architects; CSW.

Summary

  • The Panel unanimously supports the project and is very pleased with the response to the previous comments from the Panel. The Panel is of the opinion that the parti is strong and further clarified, and the proposed development fits nicely with the DNA of the Zibi Master Plan.
  • The Panel finds the architectural design articulates the original ideas of relating the street and to the water quite well. The brick portion of the building is well grounded and acts like a crust, while the glass portion is softer and appears to float.
  • In support of the architectural approach and massing, the Panel’s larger concern is how this building can relate to Chaudière East Private, and more specifically how the proposal can facilitate changing the character of this street to something special. The Panel finds this critical given the north-south connection through the building.

Architectural Detail

  • The Panel understands that the cladding material for the mechanical loft penthouse is still to be determined, but suggests a treatment that is light and complements the architectural expression from both short and long views.
    • Cnsider aligning the mechanical penthouse with the reveal, and resolve it as a T shape in the elevation. Alternatively, it can work as a free shape, similar to what is proposed.
  • Along Chaudière Private East, the Panel suggests exploring aligning the brick volume with the glass volume.
  • The Panel is appreciative of the interpretation of the shadow and cornice lines from across the street. In addition, the Panel finds the reveals on the corners to be very successful, as well as the 9-inch reveals around the windows.
  • The Panel finds the move to bring the red and black bricks into the building positive, and enhances the legibility of the parti from within the link.
  • The Panel suggests bringing the brick up as far as the metal cornice, and extending the cladding from the lighter building onto the reveal.

Public Realm Considerations

  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the master plan document is a living document that can respond in time to an evolving context. The Panel believes that the proposed building fits well with the DNA of the master plan document.
    • The Panel recmmends setting back the future Building 213 from Booth Street to ensure views from Booth Street toward this proposed building when travelling north from Ottawa to Gatineau.
    • Als recommended is a straight edge form for Building 213 in order to define the public space along Zaida Eddy Private, and relate the future public realm context along Zaida Eddy to this proposed building.
  • The Panel suggests extending the woonerf across Chaudière East Private, which would help establish a precinct, and greatly improve the connection between the building and Union Park.

Amenity and Landscape

  • The Panel is supportive of the subtle yet elegant changes of the paving treatment along the north end of the site.
  • The Panel sees great potential for indoor and outdoor wayfinding, the integration of public art, and the planting of indigenous grasses within the development.
  • The Panel suggests landscaping the roof of the building, providing a canopy, and an exterior bar. This will provide opportunities for people to take advantage of fantastic views of city skylines, the Chaudière Falls, and the Gatineau hills.
  • The Panel recommends that further study of the street tree planting is required, including the possible alignment of the trees to frame a continuous linear walking promenade. The study should consider the pedestrian experience on both Booth and Eddy.

June 7, 2019

  1.  

88 Albert Street & 81 Slater Street | Formal Review | Site Plan Control application to permit construction of a 25 floor residential building | rla / architecture; 88 Albert Street Holdings Inc.; Fotenn Planning + Design

Summary

  • The Panel supports residential development in this section of downtown as it is currently lacking in terms of activity during the evenings and weekends. Taking advantage of a remnant tight site, makes for an interesting proposal.
  • The Panel recognizes some positive moves since the informal review, particularly with the relationship between the building and the public realm. These include the enhancements to the elevated ground floor / second floor, but the Panel suggests further enhancing the impacts on the public realm.
  • The Panel is concerned with the way the building presses against its neighbours, both for the future residents of the proposed building, and for the building occupants in the adjacent towers to the east and west. This creates a challenging and undesirable precedent for development in the Central Business District.
  • The conversion of several units to short-term rental units is helpful, but the Panel continues to be concerned with the very tight condition proposed at the rear of the building, as the future of the existing hotel is unclear, and the short term use is difficult to regulate.

Building Separation

  • The Panel is concerned with the lack of building separation on the east, north and west sides of the building. The City’s High-Rise Building Design Guidelines intend to prevent the development of tall buildings with a lack of sufficient separation, resulting in major quality of life issues. The Panel suggests that the intent of the guidelines can be achieved on this tight site by:
    • Changing from a streetwall canyon building form to a building with a tower sitting on a podium. This typology allows for windows on the sides of the building.
      • Lower the lighter coloured portion of the building down to the 12th floor. Retain the dark coloured portion of the tower above the 12th floor but maintain the 3.6-4m setback on the east side above the 12th floor. The same setback should then apply to the west side.
  • The Panel is concerned with the quality of life issues created by the 7.5m setback at the rear, as this space will not allow light between the proposed building and the existing hotel.
    • A smaller footprint is recommended in order to achieve a larger rear setback.
      • In a scenario where the existing hotel is demolished and the site redeveloped with a 7.5m rear setback, it would still result in a very constrained relationship with only 15 meters between the two buildings between the two buildings.
    • The conversion of the rear units to short term rental is acknowledged, however this use is difficult to regulate. The Panel continues to be concerned by this insufficient rear setback.
  • One suggestion from a Panel member is to reconsider the project with the idea that 88 Albert and 81 Slater are treated as one lot, with appropriate setbacks applied that respond to the block context.
  • Another idea brought forth by a Panel member is to negotiate a commitment (i.e. a limiting distance or air rights agreement) from the owner that prohibits development above 12 floors on the site of the existing hotel. This would ensure the fantastic views of the north facing suites above the 12th floor are preserved.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel suggests better detailing of the base to avoid a utilitarian character, providing a more elegant impact on the public realm. The adjacent federal building facing Elgin Street provides a good example.

The Panel suggests eliminating the blank facades on the sides of the buildings by applying the suggestion above with respect to carving out side yard setbacks above the 12th floor. This breathing room will greatly improve the buildings relationship with the neighbouring towers.

One suggestion from a Panel member is to apply the same approach used in the expression of the vertical plane above, to the base of the building.

  • A Panel member has concerns that the current proposal may lead to difficulties ensuring that the mechanical roof stays under the maximum height restriction.

Public Realm and Functionality

  • The Panel suggests that there could be more space between the retail entrances and the exterior access to the garbage room.
  • Considering the short term rental units, the Panel suggests an additional elevator be installed, as these units typically function like hotel rooms, increasing the demand for elevators.

May 3, 2019

151-153 Chapel Street | Formal Review | Site Plan Revision and Minor Zoning Amendment to permit a mixed use high-rise building with retail at grade | Trinity Group; Fotenn Planning + Design.

Summary

  • The Panel understands that the density on the site is already approved, and therefore has largely limited its recommendations to issues of architectural expression, the enhancement of the public realm, and some shifts to the massing that improve the livability of units, and the overall composition of the project.
  • The Panel offers suggestions to provide more clarity with respect to the black and white components of the building, in order to better emphasize the verticality of the expression of the buildings.
  • The Panel highlights that a key aspect of the project’s massing requiring more consideration is the middle building along Chapel Street. The height should be lowered, and greater setbacks to the adjacent towers is needed.

Massing

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the very large footprints, the massive nine storey podiums, and the lack of architectural carving at the top of the towers makes the development feel too bulky. The bulkiness is exasperated by the use of dark colours. The Panel suggests that efforts are needed to to reduce the impact of this development on the surrounding neighbourhood:
    • The Panel suggests that a fur storey podium facing the Beausoleil Park would be more appropriate, as it will not challenge the existing character defined by nearby townhouses to the west.
      • This will also reduce the impacts of massing on the north side of the site, providing an improved transition from the towers.
    • Shift the middle building along Chapel Street, out towards the west. In its current location this area of the building will be in shadows for too long. This part of the building should be lowered and should clearly read like a podium. It is the opinion of the Panel that the seven metre separation between the two buildings along Chapel Street, divided by the ramp, is far too tight.
    •  
    • The Panel recmmends that the nine storey portion of the building along Rideau Street be reduced to five, or a maximum of six storeys, so that it can read like a podium. To make up for lost density, the nine storey portion of the building in the northeast corner of the site can be raised to 12 storeys.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel appreciates the attempted design language expressed with the white and black pieces of the building, however suggests that more clarity and accentuation is needed. The white portions are meant to emphasize verticality, but the effect is sometimes lost in the current design.
    • On the tower expression at the corner of Rideau and Chapel, the effect of the white portion to express verticality, that currently extends down the second floor, needs to extend right down to the ground.
    •  
    • The Panel als suggests that the same is done on the south façade of the north tower, where the white portion should be extended down to the ground in order to reduce the tower’s bulky appearance.
    •  
    • On the nine-strey building facing Beausoleil Park on the northeast corner of the site, the whiteface along the street transitions to black on the side and rear. Establish a more consistent architectural language and avoid facadism, by wrappinng the white around the entire building portion.
    •  
    • In general, the Panel suggests that the white prtions should stand out as the primary building expression, with the black portions as secondary expressions.
    •  
    • Extend the white tower portion up from the black portions, and ensure that it wraps around the mechanical penthouses, establishing proud corner features.
  • The Panel recommends that the interruptions to the black portions, such as the white square along the Rideau Street façade, would be more justified if there was a program change. Otherwise the Panel suggests an honest representation of the large expanse of residential space behind the façade, without the architecural framing elements.
  • The Panel suggests removing the white concrete soffit slab between the second and third level of the east and south façades of the Rideau Street tower.
  • Study the breaks at corners, at the first storey, fourth storey, etc. and ensure that there is a three dimensionality to the design, with elements pulled around the corners.
  • The Panel recommends more glass and detail at the ground floor along the Rideau Street façade, instead of the black cladding material. An approach similar to the glazed portion of the north tower’s ground level on the south façade would be appropriate.
  • Generally, the Panel recomends studying ways to reduce the monochromatic nature of the architectural expression at street level by introducing more colourful elements, integrating signage, or adding red brick to the base. A more joyful expression, particualrly at the base of the building, will improve the development.

Public Realm and Sustainability

  • The Panel suggests that this block of Chapel Street is meant to be an important pedestrian connection between Rideau Street and Beausoleil Park.
    • The Panel is cncerned that the terraces of the residential units are creating a blank wall along Chapel, as these terraces sit above the street level. This blank wall condition must be addressed to ensure a high quality pedestrian experience in this location.
    • Street trees with significant sil depths are strongly recommended on Chapel Street.
    • Genreally mre design exploration is required in order to enhance the Chapel Street public realm.
  • The Panel suggests that more detailed analysis is required regarding the proposed park, the POPS, and the sloped sidewalk located along Chapel street.
  • The Panel recommends moving back the proposed building from Rideau Street. Any additional breathing room will help accommodate the high volume of pedestrians is encouraged by the Panel.
    • Creating the space fr street trees along Rideau Street, similar to the block to the west, is encouraged.
  • The Panel recommends establishing green roofs and adding rooftop amenity space. Any sustainable elements that can be incorporated into the project are encouraged.

April 5, 2019

412 Sparks Street | Formal Review | Zoning Amendment and Site Plan Control application to permit the construction of an 18-storey retirement building | Signature Retirement Living; Reichmann Senior’s Housing Development Corporation; Hobin Architecture; Fotenn Planning & Design; Cathedral Hill GP Inc.

Summary

  • The Panel considers this site to be one of the most important sites the Panel has reviewed, and is appreciative of the challenges associated with building next to the very rich and textured Christ Church Cathedral, in a location with extensive visibility from key gateway points. The long views provided as part of the submission are very helpful, emphasizing the importance of this building’s architectural expression given the visibility from numerous vantage points.
  • The revised proposal represents an improvement from the previous version of the project, however the Panel suggests further study with the aim of achieving a more slender tower, a calmer architectural expression, and a more unified public realm, in order to ensure the development is sensitive to the context within the Cathedral Hill Heritage Conservation District, and successful from numerous key vantage points.

Tower Massing

  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the building appears too bulky particularly when seen from the northwest, resulting in an overall expression that is not suitable for this location, given the character of the existing streetscape, and the long views toward the site. The proposal would significantly benefit from adjustments to the massing that create a more slender point tower expression. This approach will tone down the visual impacts of the tower, and provide space for the adjacent church spire so that it can continue to benefit from sky views, and remain the focal point within this streetscape.
    • Reduce the size of the floor plate, while potentially studying options for increasing the height in order to make up for some of the lost density.
    • Consider removing the west wing (comprising of three units located on floors 4-16) of the building.
    • Alternatively, remove the one-bedroom unit located directly east of the housekeeping/storage room on floors 4-14), thereby allowing for a scissor-stair (eliminating the need for two separate stairs) and providing an opportunity to tighten up the floor plate.
  • The Panel suggests lowering the back element of the tower where the garage access from Queen Street is located. In renderings, it reads as a very large element (p.32). One strategy to reduce the impact of this massing is to lower this element to the height of the podium, so that it can wrap around the front of the building to form part of the podium.
  • One Panel member expressed concerns regarding the curvature of the front façade and suggests thinking about a stepped condition instead. The concern is that the curvature in the façade competes with the establishment of a stronger sense of verticality, which is important in order to shift the expression from slab to point tower.
    • The Bay Street rendering is cited as a psitive example that could be applied to the Sparks Street façade - showing a more slender, vertical expression, with the stepping of the building rather than a curve in the massing.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel appreciates attempts to calm down the architectural expression of the building from the previous version, however suggests further moves in order to better establish a design that is more deferential to the adjacent church spire, and more appropriate given the character of the streetscape.
  • The Panel suggest a quieter treatment to the west and north façade, resulting in a simpler expression that acts as a background to the church. The use of glass at the northwest corner is a positive move in principle that is supported by the Panel.
    • At the northwest corner of the building, consider using a clean curtain wall that is more grounded, which has less of a commercial appearance.
    • One suggestion from the Panel is to introduce a curtain wall across the entire west façade.
  • The Panel suggests that the solidity of the base is extremely important in order to ground the building and appropriately relate it to the church. The Panel is supportive of the use of natural stone as it complements the layered richness of the adjacent church and spire.
    • Consider raising the height of the podium to three stories, or the height of the roof of the church.
  • The upper stories of the building are weighed down, particularly by the dark treatment of the cantilevered soffit. The Panel suggests lightening the expression of the top two floors by removing the canopy, and establishing a two-storey non-residential penthouse that is glazed, and distinct from the rest of the tower. The goal is to allow the top of the tower to disappear into the sky, allowing the base, rather than the top of the building to be emphasized.
  • The Panel has some concerns with the use of copper on the tower. A lighter material expression can help emphasize the architectural richness of the church rather than compete with it.
  • In order to introduce more verticality to the tower, the Panel suggests using the balconies to break up the massing. Recesses, notches and darker materials can help to reduce the slab expression of the tower.

Public Realm

  • The Panel is appreciative of the carving out of public space, and the ideas to animate the public realm, particularly with respect to establishing an important pedestrian midblock connection between Queen and Sparks Street.
  • The Panel suggests removing the layby on Sparks Street, or relocating it to the northwest corner of the site. If the layby remains, on street parking pavement and sidewalk treatments used on Queen Street, east of Bay Street, should be applied here in order to blur the lines between pedestrian and vehicular use. These include pedestrian friendly surface treatment such as pavers that will visually expand the pedestrian realm.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the public realm associated with this building should not be differentiated from that of the church next door.
    • Avid dividing the courtyard with trees, as this division of space will occur naturally.
    • Consider locating the primary entrance at the northwest corner of the building in order to better engage with the space and give more meaning to the public realm.
    • Contemplate program moves that can help feed activity at the street level, such as bringing more active amenities to the northwest corner of the building.
  • To reflect the unique character of the Garden of the Provinces and Territories across the street, the Panel suggests introducing some landscape terracing, stone walls, etc. to the public realm. A pedestrian cross walk from the proposed courtyard to the park will be important to ensure the safe flow of pedestrians.
  • The Panel has identified some concerns with respect to the steepness of some ramps within the loading areas.
  • The Panel highlights the importance of coordinating streetscape elements such as street lights, bollards, low level lighting, etc. to ensure a high quality experience at the public realm.

 

800 Palladium Drive | Formal Review | Site Plan to construct a five-storey office building with 286 surface parking spaces | Cominar; STGM; Fotenn Planning & Design.

Summary

  • The Panel sees sustainability as the major issue with this proposal. Furthermore, the Panel sees opportunities to improve the overall site plan, and suggests that more consideration is needed with respect to connecting the development to the existing buildings and amenity spaces within the complex, as opposed to focusing on the building’s relationship with the streets.
  • The Panel suggests improvements are essential to ensure a safe passage of pedestrians across the site, and suggests measures that will improve the sustainability of the project, and its long term viability as a forward thinking centre of research and development. The Panel sees the potential to “future proof” the development from a marketing perspective, by providing a higher quality of life for the workers who will inhabit the space, thereby attracting talent and creating a sense of place.

Landscape and Sustainability

  • The Panel suggests introducing bris soleils (particularly on the south and west sides), a green roof to capture runoff, and utilizing natural materials in order to improve the sustainability of the project, and reflect the principles of progressive suburban architecture.
  • The Panel is supportive of the terraces and landscape proposed on the perimeter of the property, but suggests softening the impact of the surface parking area as much as possible by adding substantial areas of green within the sea of parking.
    • Add greenery throughout the site, particularly adjacent to the parking stalls along the north-south access, where a line of trees could be planted. Adding trees will help to break up the expanse of the parking lot, and could assist with managing the run-off.
    • Clarify pedestrian pathways to and from the entrance of building, and frame these pathways with trees and additional plantings. Replace the four parking stalls at the end of each parking aisle with trees and plantings.
    • Additional landscape is needed to enhance the principle entrance to the building, and at the vehicular access points to the site.
  • The Panel suggests studying ways to knit the site plan of this new phase of development with the existing two storm-water ponds, gazebo, and the island of green, which act as amenity features for office workers of the earlier phases. The two existing buildings are on angles that respond to the ponds, while the proposed building and landscape plan do not address these landscape amenity features. Consider a ‘sister island’ of greenery that can respond to the existing island as a complementary move.
    • Look at the Loblaw headquarters site in Brampton, Ontario for more examples of ways of enhancing the amenity features on the site.
  • Consider the use of porous paving to mitigate the environmental impacts of the proposed surface parking, and contemplate future opportunities with a fifth phase that could accommodate underground parking, and allow a reduction in the surface parking.

Architectural Expression and Materiality

  • In an effort to allow form to follow function, the Panel suggests accentuating the corner of the building with a higher parapet and either projecting or setting back the corner feature to distinguish it from the rest of the building.
  • The Panel notes that the pattern of the cladding, which emulates a brick pattern, deemphasizes the idea of movement. Consider adding another colour of spandrel in the vertical bands which are between the white horizontal bands. Grey tones on the first level may help express horizontality.
    • Generally, it is recommended by the Panel that authentic materials, such as real wood and brick, are used as the primary cladding materials.
  • The Panel is appreciative of the staggered windows on the elevations, but suggests adding colour, and a bris soleil on the south elevation. These small moves can bring a more contemporary look to the building.
  • The Panel suggests elongating the glass bay at the corner so that this feature ties in better with the glazed dimensions found on the other buildings within the complex.
  • One member of the Panel suggests shifting the orientation of the building away from Cyclone Taylor, and toward Palladium Drive, in part to provide more exposure for the proposed restaurant on the ground floor.

Character

  • The Panel recommends a less generic expression, and suggests that signifiers on the outside of the building are a good way to peak people’s interest, particularly as the building is intended as a centre for research and development.
    • Consider a row of solar panels instead of trees along the Cyclone Taylor side of the property.
  • The Panel suggests that a high quality interior with a green wall feature, pursuing LEED certification (or other sustainable building certifications), offering bike parking and shower facilities for cyclists, accommodations for Uber and Lyft pickups, and a wide range of other sustainability measures will help to brand this building, and allow the development to reflect the advanced research and technology that is planned to take place here.

 

2029 Mer Bleue & 4200 Innes Road | Formal Review | Site Plan and Zoning Amendment to permit a ten-storey retirement home | Selection Group; PMA Architectes; Lapalme Rheault.

Summary

  • The Panel is appreciative of the response to the previous UDRP recommendations, particularly with respect to breaking up the massing, and the introduction of amenity space within the site plan. The Panel’s comments focus largely on refinement of the design of the base, the building’s relationship to Nellea Leclair Street, and the long term landscape plan.

Architectural Expression of Base

  • The Panel recommends that the massing at the base of the building is broken up to promote more pedestrian activity at the street level that is more reflective of the rhythm of a traditional ‘Main Street’ storefront environment.
    • Introduce a storefront architectural expression on the side street in addition to the primary façade.
    • Use finer grain materials as people will interact quite closely with the base of the building.
  • The Panel suggests further review of the northwest corner entry is required. The columns appear utilitarian and would benefit from incorporation into the façade.
  • The Panel suggests refinement to the treatment of the entrance at the street corner. Anticipate the potential for ‘spill out’ from the entrance of the building, as well as the retail spaces.
    • Integrate more feature landscaping at the corner entrance, as well as signifiers in order to more clearly delineate the retail spaces.
  • The Panel appreciates the breaks in the building that deemphasize the large horizontal massing of the facade. Consider shifting the mass by two to three metres at the slots in order to provide opportunities to bring light into the corridors.
    • One member of the Panel expressed wayfinding concerns regarding the length of the corridors.
  • The Panel has concerns with the visibility of garbage chutes on the outside wall, and suggests relocating the chute and converting this entire area to glazing.

Landscape and Sustainability

  • The Panel recognizes that the site plan advancements are very positive and bring much more clarity to the site. There are however opportunities to advance the landscape plan further:
    • In terms of walkability, plan for both the temporary situation, as well as the long term buildout of the site. Consider where walking paths and amenity areas can be expanded to as Phase II is constructed, and sidewalks are installed.
    • Establish greater setbacks for the walking paths so they can accommodate Phase II development. Consider a broader walking loop around the parking area.
  • Given the precedent setting nature of this proposal within the immediate context, the Panel suggest further exploration of sustainability initiatives such as green roofs, incorporating storm water features as amenity spaces, connections between amenity areas with paths and gazebos, etc. The circulation of water can become a natural amenity, rather than solely an engineering feature.
  • The Panel suggests introducing more feature landscaping at the entrances of the building in order to better signify the entry points, including to the commercial spaces at the corner. Contribute to the phase two streetscape and public realm as much as possible at this stage in the development by giving consideration for the location of future curbs, street crossings, etc.
  • Consider pervious paving to reduce the heat island effect and assist with storm water runoff.
  • The Panel suggests carefully considering sun and shade when determining the location of trees on the site.
  • Consider opportunities for solar redundancy to reduce energy consumption and save costs.

 

1531 Stittsville Main Street | Formal Review | Zoning Amendment and Site Plan to construct a four-storey mixed use building and one townhouse block | Project 1; Huntington Properties.

Summary

  • The Panel is appreciative of the applicant’s response to the previous Panel recommendations with respect to massing. Particularly positive aspects of the revisions include the removal of the stone from the townhouse block, the introduction of a tripartite division on the condo structure, and the grounding of the brick material.
  • The Panel understands that this is the first development of its kind within the Stittsville village context, and therefore the contemporary approach has a considerable impact. The Panel is supportive of the general architectural approach, however suggests relaxing the contemporary elements of the building in order to make it feel at home within its surroundings. Nuancing the vernacular response would help to avoid the perception of this being the right building in the wrong place. The comments on the current proposal relate to the fine details, materiality, and vernacular aspects of the design.

Massing

  • The Panel suggests further refinement of the Stittsville Main elevation in order to break up the massing by distinguishing the three volumes, and further grounding the building in order to better contextualize the structure within the existing streetscape character:
    • Pull back canpies at ends of building as the depths weigh down the building;
    • Strengthen the expression of the notches between the three volumes:
      • Replace balconies with Juliette balconies to emphasize the breaks in the streetwall;
    • Bring the vertical piers down to the ground;
    • Introduce more solidity at the corners of the building to close off the building with more sensitivity:
      • perhaps treat corners like a pilaster, bringing the element down to the street;
    • Break up the horizontal element of the top canopy to strengthen the verticality of the expression:
      • Perhaps eliminate the canopy in the middle section of the building;
      • Also break up the retail canopy at grade.

Materials and Architectural Details

  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the middle volume of the building should be brick instead of fiber cement, and in a different colour from the other volumes. This way the scale and the use of the brick will resonate better overall. One option suggested by the Panel is to differentiate the volumes with solid brick, then variegated brick, then solid brick again.
  • The Panel suggests using traditional red brick as the primary cladding material, and avoid the use of fiber cement. Also introduce brick across the top level of the building. This approach will connect the building better to its surroundings, and to the heritage of Stittsville Main Street.
  • In an effort to further connect the building to the surrounding vernacular architecture, explore using punched windows on the protruding planes, and add sills to the ground floor windows. The scale of the windows on nearby buildings can provide a cue to the heritage context.
    • Also explore opportunities for flower pots, or other elements that soften the building and make the storefronts feel more quaint and unique.
  • The Panel suggests considering small elements such as the canopy treatment of individual units, and applying the void to solid proportions found on nearby buildings of heritage value, as ways of echoing and relating this new building to the existing streetscape, and providing a more sensitive response to the context.

March 1, 2019

Rideau Street – Château Laurier | Formal Review | Site Plan Control application to permit the construction of a seven storey addition to the Château Laurier Hotel, a designated heritage property | Capital Holdings Ltd.; Larco Investments; Architects Alliance; Momentum Planning and Communications

Summary

  • The Panel is appreciative of the complexity of the Château Laurier addition project, and recognizes that there has been a very long process including lots of input from Council, the Urban Design Review Panel, staff, and the public. The Panel is aware that the revised proposal is in response to a Council motion that required a breaking down of the mass of the addition on the north elevation, the introduction of more stone, and a stronger architectural relationship to the Château Laurier.
    • The Panel has regard for the Council’s motion, and is reviewing this proposal with consideration for the skyline of the capital, and the overall relationship between the proposed addition and the nearby architectural symbols of national importance.
  • The Panel is supportive of the contemporary approach to this addition. Other aspects of the proposal supported by the Panel include the seven-storey height, the overall massing, the tripartite expression, the response to the public realm, and the added use of stone and other high quality materials. The Panel further acknowledges the applicant’s consideration of the vantage point views, the strong links proposed through the building from the Château to Major’s Hill Park, as well as the modified three-storey bridge connecting to the Château, which opens up of the historic courtyard to the Rideau Canal Promenade and establishes a visual connection to Parliament Hill.
  • The Panel appreciates the division of the north elevation into a tri-partite expression of east pavilion, central glazed volume and west pavilion. The Panel however has concerns with the architectural expressions of each of these volumes.
  • The concerns articulated by the Panel relate to the expression of the building and the details of the design, particularly with respect to the east pavilion, the central glazed volume in the middle as well as the west pavilion.
  • The Panel appreciates the architectural expression of interlacing materials between the middle and top elements as a reference to the roof line of the Château, particularly with the west pavilion. However, the Panel continues to emphasize the need for a stronger relationship of the architectural expression between the addition and that of the historic Château.

Massing

  • The Panel is pleased with the reduction in height to seven-storeys, which allows the Château roof to remain the most prominent element to be seen from most vantage points. Overall, the Panel is pleased with the scale of the proposal, and the breakdown of volumes.
  • The Panel appreciates the tripartite divisions, and the approach of designing two solid elements with a connecting element in the middle. The Panel concurs that this approach is a more sensitive response to the proportionality of the Château, and represents a significant improvement from the previous bar building design.
  • The reduced height of the three-storey connector from the proposed addition to the original Château Laurier is acknowledged by the Panel as a more proportionate linking element, which also provides significant public realm improvements.
  • The Panel recognizes that the breaking down of the massing on the west pavilion is successful, relating quite well architecturally, and proportionately to the Château.

Building Design

  • The Panel finds that the west pavilion facing Parliament Hill is the most successful aspect of the proposal. The Panel supports the interlacing expression of bronze and stone at the top two floors, darkening as it meets the roofline. The Panel notes that this parti appears to fade toward the sky thereby deemphasizing the roofline of the addition and drawing attention to the roof of the Château. The Panel recommends that this approach is also applied to the east pavilion.
    • Other notable positive aspects of the west pavilion are the enhanced verticality, the sculpting of bronze frames, and the articulation of datum lines along the canal that relate very well to the original Château.
  • The Panel notes however that the base and middle elements of the west pavilion still require refinement. The Panel recommends that further study be undertaken to relate the east and west pavilions to the Château. One Panel member suggests that this may be achieved by the re-proportioning of the rhythm of the vertical stone elements on both the east and west pavilions to better reflect the proportions of the existing hotel, particular the paired window patterns as well as a greater solidity of the corners. The ‘Option 2’, a previous iteration referenced in the staff presentation, was a blend between a punched opening and screen, which worked well.
  • Despite responding to certain elements of the Château elsewhere in the addition, the Panel finds that the base, the east pavilion, and the glass link between the east and west pavilions, require further study and refinement.
Base
  • The Panel recommends establishing a stronger base expression for the addition, to avoid the perception of a floating building, and to also allow for a clearer definition of the middle and top elements of the building. It is the opinion of the Panel that a more grounded base would result in a less stark contrast between the addition and the Château.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that a fundamental feature of the Château is its solidity. The Panel recommends a simpler, approach to the base, perhaps using limestone or granite, resulting in a more strongly grounded building that relates better to the Château, and avoids the sense of floating volumes.
    • The granite piers with bronze vertical fins along the base of the middle link volume, facing the park, appear foreign, particularly within the context of the base expression on the two adjacent pavilions, which do not share this pattern.
Glass Volume: ‘Link’
  • The Panel agrees that the middle volume of the north elevation, linking the east and west pavilions must be regressive and should contrast the two pavilions. However, the Panel is of the opinion that there is too much glass, and that this volume appears unresolved. Despite the intent to contrast the linking element from the two pavilions, the Panel is concerned with how this glass curtain wall will appear in reality, particularly from the park and at night, when considering the addition of curtains, furniture, and people. Further study of the glazing is required.
    • In the renderings from the Major’s Hill Park, the glass link is becoming more prominent than the two stone pavilions on either side. The stated design of the glass link was to depict the void between the two wings of the hotel. With this in mind the Panel recommends a much a stronger opaque expression that could include interlacing bronze panels and glass, considering vertical or horizontal fins, or adding copper framing elements, as options to add more solidity to this form, and to avoid private and domestic views from the public realm into the park facing suites.
    • Consider an approach to spacing and framing within the ‘link’ that can allow this middle volume to act as a transition that ties the two pavilions together, rather than appearing extraneous.
East Pavilion
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the east pavilion would benefit from a volumetric proportional relationship similar to the west pavilion. The Panel believes that the strong top expression creates a contrast to the elegance of the Château that is too jarring.
    • Stepping back and easing the relationship of the top two floors of the east pavilion is paramount to establishing a compatible yet subordinate relationship between the addition and the original Château.
  • The current expression of stone on the east pavilion acts as a screen to the Château, creating a stark contrast that does not work well, as the architectural ties to the Château on this pavilion are too few. The lightening up of the façade and interlacing of materials on the top floors is too subtle and not noticeable.
    • Consider adding bronze fins on glass, or other architectural interventions that lighten the top two floors. Take cues from the well-executed gradation on the west pavilion.
    • Ensure that this volume does not appear to float (by strengthening the base) as this impedes the establishment of a complementary relationship between the Château and the east pavilion.
  • There is a rhythm of paired windows and solid corners in the Château that the Panel suggests should be explored in a contemporary fashion to inform the architectural expression of the east pavilion.
Public Realm
  • The pedestrian linkages through the building from the courtyard toward the park, as well as the linkage from the Mackenzie Avenue entrance toward the canal promenade, are recognized and supported by the Panel. They are extremely important improvements in the site design, offering great benefit to the public realm.
  • The Panel supports the proposed limestone steps and strong visual and physical connection under the bridge link noting that it is a beautiful gesture that meaningfully links the Château’s historic courtyard to the canal promenade, and by extension, visually links the courtyard to Parliament Hill.
  • The Panel supports the landscape and streetscape design interventions along Mackenzie Avenue noting that they are in keeping with the Confederation Boulevard design aspirations and reflect the very high quality capital landscape public realm, despite the complex functional requirements.
  • The Panel supports the parterre reference in the design of the courtyards and green roofs.

 

ByWard Market – Public Realm Plan | Formal Review | Public Realm Plan for the ByWard Market | The Planning Partnership; Heritage and Urban Design Services, City of Ottawa

Summary

  • The Panel appreciates the complexity of thought demonstrated by the applicants through their presentation, and appreciates the huge aspirations associates with this public realm plan for the iconic Byward Market. The Panel is impressed with the extensive consultation that has taken place, and is encouraged that more data is forthcoming, which will assist in guiding the project forward. Overall the Panel believes that the many, often diverging interests of stakeholders, have been balanced well in the plan thus far. Overall, the Panel is happy with the degree of study which has been undertaken so far.
  • The Panel cautions the applicants not to get bogged down by the overlapping or competing demands that come forth, but instead move forward with what is best for the city. The Panel fully supports the ambitious goals of the project, as the public realm of the Byward Market does require significant interventions.
    • A strong communications effort that clearly identifies the minimum changes that must occur, is encouraged by the Panel. Many people are resistant to change, and it is difficult to predict the successes of what is proposed. However, the same people with concerns about proposed changes will likely enjoy the successes of the initiatives in the future.
  • The Panel advises that the implementation of the public realm plan will be important, and it should be considered that not everything can come from the top down. The plan should link to broader planning initiatives within the area, and communicating the plan to the community and other stakeholders will be critical.

Programming

  • The Panel is supportive of the approach that considers small, medium and large scale programming opportunities, which then inform the public realm design. The analysis of programming options, and opportunities that are facilitated by the plan, is well done.
  • The Panel emphasizes that the flexibility of road space will be very important, particularly as a response to seasonality – dedicating more road spaces in the summer to pedestrians, while permitting more vehicular flow in the colder months is a sensible approach.
  • The Panel emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between planned events and spontaneous activity when contemplating the details of the public realm improvements.

Character

  • The Panel agrees that the ByWard Market is the heart of Ottawa’s civic identity, and acts as a contrast to the more formal ‘Crown’ spaces in the city. The Panel believes the public spaces in the ByWard Market should provide a more visceral and contemporary experience. Currently, there is too much pressure on the ByWard Market building (55 ByWard Market Square) in the centre of the neighbourhood. Other benchmarks, installations, and a cohesive landscape and paving scheme is encouraged as a way to take the pressure off of the ByWard Market building, thereby spreading the focus.
    • Geographically, the Panel sees that the heart of the ByWard Market may be the section of York Street, where the car parking is currently located. However, the Panel encourages further definition of the key spaces in the neighbourhood, as there can be multiple cores.
    • Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal provides a good example of a contrasting urban environment within a context that contains both heritage buildings and formal governmental offices.
  • The Panel recognizes that there is an element of ‘grit’ within the ByWard Market and that it is important to ensure that public spaces are created for all people. Avoid seeking perfection as it is important to maintain the essence of this neighbourhood. Consider the less privileged, including the homeless, as the plan evolves.
    • Place Gamelin in Montreal provides a good example of a highly successful, well used public space that faces very similar social issues to parts of the ByWard Market.
  • The Panel advises that keeping children entertained within the public realm of the ByWard Market will be important, as families from elsewhere in the region make up a considerable proportion of the users of the space.
    • The Panel is supportive of the concept of the water overlay, as it speaks to the potential for play and seasonal flexibility.
  • When considering the character of the ByWard Market, the Panel emphasizes the need to understand that there are zones within the neighbourhood that are quite different, webbing these distinct areas together is a big challenge:
    • The southern section of the ByWard Market has a largely commercial focus with its adjacency to the Rideau Shopping Centre;
    • The northern section of the neighbourhood abuts a Francophone residential neighbourhood, while the east is also residential in character, yet quite disconnected by 20th Century urban renewal schemes including thoroughfares and medium to high density housing complexes;
    • To the west is Major Hill’s Park, the Château Laurier, and Parliament Hill, major tourist destinations and largely symbols of the Crown.
  • The Panel suggests that another important consideration as this plan moves forward is how the public spaces and corridors can fit into a larger open space network, and how meaningful connections can be made to extend linkages to adjacent neighbourhoods.

Pedestrian and Vehicular Balance

  • The Panel acknowledges that parking is an important element to the success of the ByWard Market, but feels strongly that the public streets cannot be used as parking lots. The existence of the excessive parking in the public realm destroys the cross pollination of activities that is expected on a High Street, and the Panel is fully supportive of the proposed removal of street parking lots.
  • The Panel sees an opportunity to reinforce the surrounding residential neighbourhoods, in part by establishing strong north south accesses that connect to the broader diverse residential district of Lowertown. The Panel suggests that the site of the existing parking structure is a key opportunity to establish a strong link northward, along Parent Street.
  • The Panel suggests that the future destination building could have underground parking, in order to further reduce the provision of street level and above grade parking.
  • The Panel suggests that wayfinding will be an important component of the public realm improvements. In addition to determining gateways, and clarifying access for transit users, appropriate signage for vehicles travelling along Kind Edward Avenue, particularly for those accessing the Market from Gatineau, will be helpful.

Further Study

  • The Plan requires further analysis of the density and uses found in the urban blocks within the study area. This will help determine who the different users of the ByWard Market are, which can then better inform choices with respect to the potential impacts on adjustments to circulation routes, including closing off routes to car traffic, etc.
  • The Panel suggests that it is necessary to understand the inherent hierarchy of how people move into and through the Byward Market in order to ensure appropriate programming of public spaces. The current patterns of movement can be challenged, but this information is essential to move forward.
    • The Panel suggests that the perspective of workers within the ByWard Market is very important and should be captured in further analysis.

 

201-213 Rideau Street | Formal Review | Site Plan application to construct a twenty-four storey hotel and residential building | Prince Developments; rla / architecture

Summary

  • The Panel generally supports the public realm gestures associated with this proposal, however is very concerned that the proposed tower setbacks do not conform to the City’s Urban Design Guidelines for High-Rise Buildings, resulting in significant quality of life issues regarding access to natural light, as well as views for residents of this proposed building, and the those in the existing tower to the north which, built at a zero lot line.
  • The Panel acknowledges that the prospect of establishing a hotel use next to the Waller Mall is exciting and that the project would result in ‘eyes on the mall’, resulting in significant improvements to a troubled aspect of this area’s public realm.

Density

  • The Panel recognizes that this site is very tight, with a context that significantly compromises the development potential. The Panel sees the existing tower to the north with zero setback, a result of MD zoning, as an urban design mistake that should not be replicated today on this site. The Panel feels strongly that tower separation guidelines should be applied to this development to avoid quality of life implications, in addition to creating unreasonable limitations on the potential for redevelopment of adjacent lots.
    • Specifically, the Panel is very cncerned with the proposed 8m setback to the adjacent tower. This will result in significant afternoon shadows, result in a lack of natural light for residents, and will cause winds to blow debris on balconies.
  • The Panel suggests studying the interface with the northern and eastern properties to ensure a more appropriate setback between towers and the building to the east. Consider a point tower, where the building is to the lot lines at the street and the mall, while establishing a 10 metre setback on the east side of the lot, with a 10m diagonal setback in relation to the tower.

Heritage Context and Architectural Expression

  • The Panel recognizes the important heritage façades within the immediate Rideau Street context, and finds the three storey podium to be an appropriate scale. The Panel suggests however that the articulation of the podium can be improved:
    • Avid the floating building concept by using brick on the base. This will add solidity to the podium and make the building appear more grounded, relating better to the existing streetscape.
    • Add detail n the podium to reference the heritage context. Consider glass fins on the base of the building that could relate to the top.
    • Take cues from the rhythm and scale of the distinguished heritage building to the east. Explore adding additional mass at the base.
  • The Panel is supportive of the finials and suggests extending them down further from the top of the building.
  • The Panel suggests a stepback above the podium to alleviate the impacts on winds, and also to better fit the streetscape.

Public Realm

  • The Panel is very supportive of establishing more visibility towards the Waller Mall, and finds the program to activate the ground plane facing the mall to be positive.
  • The Panel recognizes the functionality challenges associated with the proposed garbage pick-up. Study options that could avoid friction between utilitarian functions and pedestrians using the Waller Mall.
  • Given that there are both hotel and residential uses proposed, the Panel suggests that this could lead to added pressure on the Waller Mall, which at times could be used as a service lane for the hotel.
  • Further study the public realm interventions on the Waller Mall, as the Panel has some concerns with the location of trees along the centre of the walkway. Look for ways to green the space that is more conducive to public use.

 

807-825 Montreal Road | Formal Review | Site Plan application to construct a ten-storey residential building | Figurr Architects Collective

Summary

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed building is handsome. The following recommendations from the Panel provide guidance on how to massage the design of the building, improve the site plan to include more landscaping, as well as increase the quality of the public realm along Montreal Road.

Architecture

  • The Panel suggests considering a three-six massing proportion, as the proposed four-five proportion appears somewhat undecided.
  • The Panel is supportive of designing the top portion of the building to act as a beacon. However, the Panel is concerned with the effectiveness of this element given that the middle portion of the building floats proud of the base, while the top further protrudes.
    • To avoid the cascading expression, and subsequent dark shadowing, and to enhance the lantern effect of the beacon, the Panel recommends recessing the white protruding element of the front façade.
    • This move will also better define the base scale, and improve the way the building meets the ground.
  • The Panel finds that there are some disjointed components on the east elevation, where the colours are not responding well to the volumes. Further study of this elevation is recommended.
  • The Panel encourages careful consideration of how the mechanical penthouse, hydro and other infrastructure mechanisms can be incorporated into the building. Study these aspects early in the design process to avoid compromising the intended vision of the building.

Materiality

  • It is the opinion of the Panel that both colour and materiality are very important determinants of the success of this building. High quality materials are required where visible form the street and form neighbouring properties.
    • The Panel suggests that there are moments of masonry needed to enhance the quality of the building.
    • Long term maintenance of the cladding material of this rental apartment building must be considered. If funds are not available for wood or Prodema, the Panel recommends metal in lighter colours, or perhaps fibre-cement. Above all, an authentic, rather than synthetic look should be the objective.
    • The Panel suggests caution with respect to the use of metal panels assembled with light-gauge click-in systems, as the clipping at the corners can result in displaced panels.
  • The Panel recommends a less conspicuous approach on the west and rear elevations where the building is highly visible form the existing townhouse complex, and the established low-density residential neighbourhood to the north.
  • The Panel suggests that dark brick proposed on the north and west elevations is not the most appropriate material facing the residential neighbours. Consider a lighter approach to soften the visual impacts.
    • The Panel suggests that the soffit design at the entrances are stark. Consider using wood.
  • The Panel recommends treating the undersides of the balconies in order to improve the quality of the building’s appearance and add vibrancy.

Site Plan and Parking

  • Overall, the Panel has significant concerns with respect to the amount of proposed asphalt and hard surfacing on the site. The Panel believes that the site plan shows a building surrounded by an asphalt moat, which has numerous negative impacts on the project, including creating a heat island effect, as well as missing opportunities to provide green amenity space. This approach also precludes the integration of the building with the existing grades. Harmonizing and softening the site through the addition of more landscape is required.
  • The Panel strongly recommends the elimination of the second driveway access, and associated curb cut, located on the east side of the property. This would allow the building to better integrate with the existing grades and eliminate the moat condition described above. The area currently dedicated to this driveway can be landscaped, providing increased green amenity area for residents, and softening this corner of the property, abutting the neighbouring building to the east.
    • Relcate the retail parking to the rear, and establish a through condition to access the retail at the front of the building. This would allow landscaping to be brought out to the street.
  • The Panel recommends reconsidering the entry court as it is designed to primarily function as a car turnaround, rather than establishing a pedestrian friendly forecourt to the building.
    • Add planting elements or plaza to create a moment and enhance the area around the building’s entrance.
  • There is some concern from the Panel that the access to the site on the west side immediately leads to the ramp to the second level of the parking structure. Further study is required as this ramp-up when accessing the site is not a positive first impression.
  • The Panel does not support parking spaces located immediately adjacent to the building wall. A landscaped buffer is required in order to soften the edges and provide sufficient green respite along the rear wall.
  • The Panel has concerns regarding the rear parking structure. This approach to parking is reminiscent of 1960’s apartment complexes, and is generally discouraged by the Panel. Further tree planting and park deck greening efforts are required to screen the parking infrastructure from neighbours, and residents looking down from within the building.
    • If the parking cannt be relocated underground, consider a pergola or green roof on the parking structure, and connect this to the amenity area located at the northeast corner of the property.
    • Integrate green islands with trees within the surface parking area, and fill the edges if the parking area with trees.
    • Use pervious surfaces for some of the parking areas to help facilitate storm water management, and provide some cooling.
    • Avid light spilling from the parking structure to the backyards of adjacent residences by using down lighting and half walls to block headlights.
  • As the site plan evolves, the Panel suggests specific consideration as to where residents can bring their dogs, as well as where and how they can access public transit from the building.

Public Realm

  • The Panel recommends stepping the slabs along the commercial area at grade in order to improve the relationship of each of the commercial spaces to the adjacent grades.
    • The Panel highlights the importance of ensuring visibility of these doorways from the sidewalk.

 

384 Frank Street | Formal Review | Zoning Amendment and Site Plan | unpoised Architecture; Novatech Planning & Engineering

Summary

  • The Panel is disappointed that the project has come back in a similar form to the previous iteration, however is appreciative of the architectural improvements presented. The Panel expected further refinement of the project and a redesign more compatible with the context and responsive to the site constraints.
  • Given the constraints of this small site, and the proposed height and density, the Panel finds this building represents over development of the site. The issues relating to quality of life, both on this site, and on adjacent sites, in addition to the lack of compatibility within the heritage context, make this a project that the Panel cannot support.

Site Constraints

  • The Panel finds the project represents over development of the site. The Panel highlights considerable issues relating to the constructability, long term maintenance, fire access, and the potential for Building Code issues with the proposed design.
    • The tight site would make the installation of cladding extremely difficult.
    • The ongoing functionality of the building would be problematic, pushing loading and moving activities to the street.
    • The height of the access under the cantilevered portion of the building can only fit a small truck or a cubed van, thereby impacting access to the adjacent properties fronting Bank Street which benefit from a legal easement through this property.
  • The Panel finds that the proposed project is not replicable in its context, and building to the lot line creates considerable problems for development on adjacent properties. For example, if a similar nine-storey building was constructed at the adjacent Miele site on Bank Street, this would result in several consequences relating to constructability, access to light, serviceability and general quality of life.
  • The Panel highly recommends investigations into the costs and the feasibility of constructing on this site, as well as a Building Code study to determine compatibility.
    • One Panel member suggests that the second storey exit does not satisfy the provisions of the Building Code.
  • Considering the size of the property, the Panel suggests between four and up to a maximum height of six stories could be possible for the site.

Livability

  • The Panel has serious concerns regarding livability given the high density proposed on a very small property. In addition to a lack of amenity area, there is also a concern from the Panel with respect to a lack of natural light in the basement apartment units.
  • The Panel suggests that if there is future adjacent development, there will also be issues with meeting daylight requirements for the corner bedrooms where the plans show small windows.
  • The Panel does not support the proposal to construct all the way to the rear property line as sunlight is required to ensure a minimum quality of life for rear units.

Heritage and Urban Context

  • The Panel appreciates the animation of the wall facing Bank Street, given the inability to add fenestration to this wall, however is concerned that the five stories of exposed wall visible from Bank Street does not represent a successful transition, and will appear like a cloud over the street. Since the proposed building is not connected directly to Bank Street, the Panel finds that the property should be developed as a transitional site between the medium density residential area to the east, and the traditional main street condition on Bank Street.
  • It is the opinion of the Panel that the small eight foot retail space with limited glazing will have very limited uses, and does not sufficiently ‘give back’ to the city.

Architectural Expression

  • The Panel appreciates the cleaner and clearer volumes of the revised plans, and believes that the building is now better grounded. The use of colour, and the architectural explorations evident in the massing, the expression of the base, and the notch at the top, are successful.
  • The Panel does have concerns that the dark treatment proposed for the wall facing Bank Street is not appropriate given its volume.
  • There is some concerns from a Panel member that the appliquée brick element on the base needs some refinement, with particular consideration for its visibility form Bank Street.
  •  

February 1, 2019

951 Gladstone Avenue | Formal Review | Zoning & Official Plan Amendment to permit the construction of three residential towers (30, 35 & 41 storeys) and the restoration of a heritage building | Trinity; Hobin Architecture; Fotenn Planning + Design

Summary

  • The Panel is very supportive of the preservation and restoration of the Standard Bread Company building, and incorporating this heritage building as an iconic part of the development.
  • The Panel is supportive of increased density on this site, but is concerned with the height and scale of the proposed project, given the surrounding context. The impacts of similar intensification projects on the other side of the railway tracks must be considered. Particular contextual concerns are as follows:
    • The surrounding streetscape fabric is characterized by narrow streets, particularly in comparison to the nearby Carling-Preston area, where similar densities exist or are approved;
    • The future Gladstone station will be a neighbourhood transit station on the Trillium Line, rather than a major transit hub. The opinion of the Panel is that densities of the scale proposed are more appropriate within the vicinity of major transit hubs.
  • The combination of light industrial uses and the long history of artist’s spaces, has helped to define this site with a charming live-work characteristic. The Panel recommends that these uses are reintegrated into the program, which would allow the development to make a positive impact, and better integrate into the surrounding area.
  • As the first major redevelopment project within close proximity to the future Gladstone station, the Panel considers this a precedent setting development. There is heightened importance with respect to the approach to heritage conservation, increased density, the establishment of setbacks, and the design of the public realm. Given the precedent setting nature of this site and its prominence within the area, the Panel recommends a dedicated focused review session involving Panel members and potentially members of the Tall Building Review Panel.

Gladstone Treatment & Standard Bread Company Building

  • The Panel recommends redesigning the podium of the tower along Gladstone Avenue, in order to better tie-in the new building to the existing Standard Bread Company building. The Panel emphasizes the need to allow the heritage building to stand out with a three dimensional expression, and the need for the podium to better establish a transition to the surrounding neighbourhood:
    • Lower the streetwall of the podium height to three to four storeys in order to relate better to the heritage building
    • Setback the podium to be more consistent with the setback of the heritage building and achieve a wider sidewalk
    • Extend the brick cladding down to the ground
  • The Panel is concerned with the conflict created between the MUP, the plaza, the underground connection, and the pedestrian link to the transit station. Avoid compromising the success of the plaza by reexamining these connections to ensure a better circulation of pedestrians, particularly in relation to the sidewalk:
    • Increase the sidewalk widths along Gladstone
    • Explore opportunities to establish a more prominent plaza
    • Place emphasis on connecting the development to the street, rather than the proposed pedestrian bridge
  • Recognizing the potential for spatial displacement, the Panel advises that space for artists and other stable industrial users are considered, and integrated into the programming.

Overall Site Plan & Tower Design

  • The Panel advises taking cues from the Canadian Bank Note Limited building, and the residential neighbourhood to the west in order to better transition this development into the larger context:
    • Consider grade related units along the street that tie into the existing residential neighbourhood, and avoid blank walls at grade.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed tower designs could better  refer to specifics characteristics of the site:
    • More emphasis on distinguishing the Gladstone tower from the other two is encouraged. Consider bringing the brick material from the podium up into the tower;
    • Weave the development into the neighbourhood by providing east-west linkages between the towers.
  • Since there is not a provision of a park, nor relief at the ground plane, the Panel recommends the full tower separation distance of 25 metres, as recommended in the City’s High-Rise Building Guidelines, be respected. No compelling rational for a reduction to 22 metres has been presented. The required setback on the north property line is also recommended.
  • The Panel believes that the ground plane is overbuilt in its current form, with a particular concern regarding the proposed loading area for a future grocery store. It is the opinion of the Panel that the site is not conducive to the frequency of truck traffic that would be generated by this use.
  • The Panel highlights the potentially limiting noise related requirements triggered by the close proximity to the Canadian Bank Note Limited building, as there will likely be design limitations on balconies, as well as the location and size of openings, etc.
  • The Panel suggests that Liberty Village in Toronto represents a similar type of development, linking existing industrial uses with a new residential community. Some lessons can be learned in terms of establishing a more human scale, as well as with respect to limiting shadows, to ensure a higher quality of life for residents.

Parks, Open Space & Relation to MUP

  • The Panel strongly supports the introduction of an on-site park, despite the transit oriented nature of the development. Parks are vital in order to support the future population which will include dogs, children, seniors, etc.
  • The Panel recognizes the dimensions of this site result in a ‘superblock’, and it is the opinion of the Panel that more porosity is needed. It is advised that the block be broken up into a series of blocks, particularly form Loretta Avenue to the MUP.
  • In order to enhance the linkage to the MUP, and the integration of the MUP into the development, the Panel suggests the following:
    • Treat the MUP as a tree lined promenade on the edge of the development, using recent projects at Carling and Preston as examples as to how to integrate this feature into the plan
    • Internalize the loading between Tower 1 and 2, and create a POPS that connects into the MUP
    • Add grade related units or other program that helps animate  the MUP and enhance its safety
    • Consider additional greenspaces and parks that connect Loretta to the MUP
    • Current site organization results in the MUP being shaded all afternoon. Consider alternatives that result in less shading

 

811 Gladstone Avenue | Formal Review | Site Plan to construct a six storey apartment building and two stacked townhouse blocks | Ottawa Community Housing; Hobin Architecture; CSW; Fotenn Planning + Design

Summary

  • The Panel is pleased with the well thought-out approach to this project, particularly in terms of the general massing, and the response to the existing urban context. Improvements are recommended with respect to the relationship to the public realm, the quality of the public and private amenity spaces, the porosity through the site, and certain architectural elements associated with the proposed sustainability measures. The Panel also understands the importance of this site and its program. The following comments should be considered with the intent of making an already very good project even better.

Relationship to Public Realm

  • The Panel believes there is a greater opportunity for this proposal to establish a continuity of commercial uses along Gladstone, between the nodes of Preston and Bronson. The Panel advises that the Gladstone Avenue edge of the proposed apartment building should be able to transition over time. It is important to rethink the units adjacent to the street in order to create an urban edge, rather than a garden edge:
    • There is particular concern regarding the configuration of the concrete ramp and planter treatment at the base of the Gladstone and Rochester corner, as it precludes the ground level space from being converted to commercial uses in the future;
    • The Panel suggests establishing more immediate access points to the ground level units, so that they feel more commercial in use;
    • Consider adding commercial space to the ground floor, while shifting the amenity space to the second level. This would result in the possibility contiguous indoor-outdoor amenity space that receives sunlight all year.
  • There is some concern regarding the design of the porch/ramp feature along Gladstone. The Panel suggests studying the element more to improve its usefulness – perhaps add a trellis, and adjust its scale or shape, as it appears pinched towards the entrance. This element does not work so well in relation to the orthogonal building.
  • The Panel suggests careful consideration of the streetscape elements such as the bus stop, street lights, and access ramp, to ensure a well-lit, accessible, and safe building that accommodates a wide mix of ages and abilities, including those with limited visual abilities.
    • Consider a canopy from the building towards the bus stop.
  • The Panel recommends that the street trees be moved to the outside of the sidewalk, closer to the street (instead of having planters along the building edge). This will better establish the main street potential for this segment of the Gladstone. Although the goal is an urban edge to the property, some trees should be kept in the forecourt.
  • The Panel highlights the importance of the long view toward this site, along Gladstone Avenue from the east. The proposed elevation has the potential to respond to the jog in the road. Consider ways to better articulate this highly visible part of the east façade.
  • The Panel advises removal of the planters with the concrete curbed walls.

Site Porosity

  • The Panel suggest carving out more space for lobbies and entrances within the buildings, and then providing linkages from these spaces to the exterior, particularly to the courtyard.
  • The Panel recommends opening up the north south access through the site. Suggestions from the Panel include reducing the surface parking area, and replacing this area with contiguous landscaping.
    • Another suggestion from a Panel member is to create a porte cochère that can allow for a stronger connection from Gladstone, northward through the site.
  • Overall, the establishment of a friendly, crisscross pedestrian flow through the site is recommended by the Panel, and is likely dependent on the removal of some of the proposed surface parking.

Private & Public Amenity

  • The Panel suggests increasing the amount of green amenity within the project, and minimizing the surface parking. At minimum four parking spaces should be removed. One option is to limit the surface parking to one aisle rather than two. The goal is to establish a more park like pedestrian friendly setting throughout the site.
    • The garden edge between the parking area and the units requires enhancement, as the current narrow strip will result in headlights shining into lower level bedrooms.
  • The Panel suggests providing private outdoor amenity space, such as balconies and terraces, in order to improve the quality of life for residents – including those units facing Balsam. This will also take pressure off the use of the shared outdoor amenities.
  • The Panel has suggests that the transitional spaces need to be more generous. The porches coming out of units on the building facing Balsam are too tight. The public spaces, including the landings, need to be more generous for users, as it can be expected that that some residents will have strollers, and other items requiring more space. The Panel sees the offering of these well thought out and spacious elements as a way of changing the residents’ perception of their home.
  • The Panel suggests looking at flipping the location of the amenity spaces so that these areas step out directly to courtyard.
  • There is some concern from the Panel that the space between buildings will be dark. Further CPTED concerns were raised with respect to the pathway between this development and the neighbouring property to the east. Turn the glass around the corners in order to put ‘eyes on the street’ as a way of addressing safety concerns.
  • The Panel recommends establishing direct access to the units at the rear, facing Balsam. This design would give these buildings more of a residential ‘house’ feel, as opposed to looking institutional. Otherwise, there is concern that outdoor spaces adjacent to the rear façade will be used for storage.

Architectural Expression and Sustainability

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the height, the access to the building, and the flexibility of the spaces is generally very good. The passive house architectural aspirations are also commendable. The Panel does have some specific recommendations however, in order to improve the quality of the architecture:
    • Additional glazing is suggested within the deep window openings along the Gladstone façade. Currently, the glazing area is very limited, despite the relatively large openings, as there are spandrel panels in place of larger windows;
    • In place of black cladding material on the middle section of the building facing Gladstone, the Panel suggests a grey colour to avoid heat gain;
    • Consider integrating the photovoltaic panels as a design element, rather than an add-on to the roof. This will require some roofs to be partially sloped.
  • The Panel suggests that improvements can be made to the plaza, and other spaces in front of the building facing Gladstone. The treatment on the ground floor seems institutional, and the Panel advises designing the front façade of the building so that the stigma of social housing is avoided in the architectural expression.

 

100 Argyle Avenue | Formal Review | Zoning & Official Plan Amendment application to construct a 21 storey building | Colonnade Bridgeport; rla / architecture; Fotenn Planning + Design

Summary

  • The Panel acknowledges the difficulty of developing this narrow site within the established policy framework, however does not accept the rational brought forth for the development of the proposed tower. It is the opinion of the Panel that a development on this block should consist of street oriented mid-rise buildings, with north to south oriented units. This would ensure a relatively consistent streetwall on Argyle Avenue, opposite the Museum of Nature, which is a designated National Historic Site. The proposed four sided high-rise building would overwhelm this landmark.

Heritage Conservation

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed tower is not in keeping with the character surrounding the Museum of Nature, and does not represent an appropriate response to the heritage context.
  • The Panel has diverse opinions with respect to the proposed lowering and repositioning of the heritage building on site:
    • One member of the Panel believes that moving the building closer to the street, if the overall composition of the project is executed properly, can reinforce and strengthen the urban edge;
    • Another member believes the proposed reconstruction and lowering of the building dilutes the heritage conservation intentions, particularly as the lowering of the building represents a significant departure from the original façade proportions.
  • One Panel member suggested that the inspiration photo on Slide 18 showing the heritage building contained within a vitrine is an interesting approach that could resolve the requirement to move the building, as well as allowing for the retention of the limestone walls.
  • The Panel is supportive of the parti layout on Slide 20 that indicates a double height space, with shared access to the rooftop amenity, rather than the direct access from units, as indicated on the floor plans.
  • The Panel is generally supportive of the lack of formality of the proposed design, but does feel there are missed opportunities to pick up on the symmetry of the heritage building, as well as take other design cues from the Museum of Nature.  
  • The Panel suggests referencing the Montgomery Square and the Gladstone Library projects in Toronto, specifically for the way the grades are dealt with - by introducing ramps and creating plazas, rather than lower the heritage building.

Montgomery Square
Montgomery Square
Gladstone Library Toronto
Gladstone Library, Toronto

Urban Context and Transition

  • The Panel is concerned that this proposal will represent a height anomaly within the context of the Museum of Nature, as there is currently consistency within the streetscape, characterized by medium scale height. The nearby YMCA building is an exception:
    • The Panel does not agree with the comparison to New York’s Central Park, as, surrounding the park there is a consistent perimeter zone of tall buildings. One suggestion is that High Park in Toronto would be a more relatable comparison of context;
    • A fabric building fronting the museum, with north-south oriented units is most appropriate for this site. If a development over nine storeys is proposed, the nine storey datum should be strongly reflected in the design to ensure compatibility with the streetscape and the museum;
    • The visual impact of this tower on the view from within the Museum of Nature is also an important consideration of the Panel, and there is concern that this tower has negative impacts in this regard.
  • The Panel has concerns with the significant shadow impact on the surface parking lot of Museum of Nature directly across the street. There is a likelihood that the entire property from O’Connor Street to Elgin Street will eventually be recaptured as greenspace as the museum property evolves. It is the opinion of the Panel that the location of the current parking lot is a mistake, and this area should be protected from negative impacts in order to preserve its potential.
  • The Panel believes that the three metre side yard setbacks are insufficient for the proposed tower, as it does not provide sufficient tower separation, given the potential for the adjacent lots to redevelop.
  • In order to ensure compatibility on the block and make this development a model for future developments on the street, the Panel suggests confirming that the proposed street trees line up with existing trees. Also, if the heritage building is to be moved, the building should align with adjacent buildings to establish a streetwall. Finally, consider the availability and location of on-street parking.

Architectural Expression and Floor Plan

  • The Panel appreciates the use of stone and masonry, but believes the architectural expression of the tower should be more deferential and quieter. Borrowing some of the formal language and symmetry from the heritage building, and from surrounding buildings, such as the Museum of Nature or the Windsor Arms, would also improve the tower expression.
  • The Panel recommends better treatment for the floors immediately above the heritage building:
    • Reconsider the two-storey relief, as the proportions create an awkward relationship between the tower and the base;
    • Remove the units adjacent to the rooftop terrace;
    • Consider a relief floor with extensive glazing, creating a ‘glass break’ between the base and the tower.
  • The Panel is concerned with the quality of life implications with respect to the units oriented toward the side lot lines, where the setbacks are limited. Redesign the floor plan so that units are oriented exclusively to the north and south.
  • Rather than integrating the mechanical penthouse, the Panel suggests pushing it back away from the museum.

January 11, 2019

180 Metcalfe Street | Formal Review | Site Plan and Minor Variances to construct a 24 storey residential building with retail uses at grade, above a six storey heritage building | JADCO Group; rla / architecture; FOTENN Planning + Design 

Summary

  • The Panel believes that the most significant challenge of the development is the appropriateness of the design response to the fine, very handsome heritage building. The Panel emphasizes the importance an intervention that is simple, complimentary, and emphasizes the primacy of the Medical Arts Building in the overall built form composition. The Panel recommends that the design elements of the heritage building inform the design of the new podium and that the tower be light and simple in expression. Further attention to the public realm, and the landscape scheme is also required.

The Panel is pleased to hear that the proposed tower is Curtain wall (as opposed to window wall). The simplicity of the proposed tower will relay upon this higher quality cladding material.

Podium

  • The Panel is of the opinion that the current approach of contrasting the new podium design with the heritage building is not successfully creating a sympathetic composition that gives primacy to this remarkable heritage asset. The Panel recommends that the new podium be deliberately more compatible with the heritage building creating a stronger base expression, rather than establishing a strong visual connection between the new podium and the new tower.
    • Ensure that the vertical expressions in the new podium do not appear to exceed the height of the heritage building.
    • Use a lighter colour brick that compliments the masonry of the heritage building, but still differentiates it. The proposed black brick contrasts too much with the heritage building, and is not sustainable.
    • Consider reinstating the piers that were part of the approved heritage permit proposal, and extend those masonry piers to the ground. Consider longer expanses of glazing across the podium that are broken up by the piers.
  • In terms of programming, the Panel finds there are opportunities to ensure more active uses at the street level.
    • The residential amenity area in the podium could be made more open and inviting to the public, to avoid ‘dead’ spaces at the street level. As an example, consider a publically accessible gym that could partner with the residents association to cater to both the residents of the building and the public at large. This would result in amenity space that better engages with the street.
    • Another suggestions from the Panel is to consider reducing the space on the ground floor allocated to the amenity, and instead introduce two-storey townhouse units along Nepean Street. This would result in a more active street façade and allow the two-storey datum line from the heritage building to be referenced and extended across the new podium.
    • The Panel also suggests utilizing the Medical Arts Building as a grand lobby space, while integrating a unique two-storey commercial space, possibly a café, into the heritage building. The Panel sees this approach as a good way to activate Metcalfe Street, at an intersection that faces a relatively successful commercial square on the other side of the street. 

Tower Design

  • The Panel very much appreciates the direction toward simplifying the tower expression and is particularly supportive of the use of glass curtain wall. It is the opinion of the Panel, however, that an even quieter tower expression is needed to emphasize the primacy of the heritage building. Consider the introduction of a reveal floor to better differentiate the tower from the podium.
  • With respect to the Metcalfe Street elevation, the Panel has some concerns with the tower offset in terms of the symmetrical façade treatment of both the heritage building and the tower. The Panel suggests correcting this misalignment by changing the façade treatment of the tower to better compliment the Metcalfe façade of the Art Deco Medical Arts Building.
    • One suggestion is to remove the balconies from the Metcalfe elevation, and instead bring these balconies to both the north and south elevations creating a clean glass tower as a backdrop to the heritage building
    • Alternatively, the Panel suggests extending the balconies across the entire span of the Metcalfe façade.
    • Use sandblasted glass for balcony railings to provide privacy for residents, and hide clutter.
  • The Panel is concerned with misalignments between the vertical elements on the tower and those on the podium, and recommends eliminating the ones on the tower. It is the Panel’s opinion that these changes would result in a pristine sophisticated tower that respects the exuberant expression of the heritage building. The use of glass curtain wall supports this clean, simplified approach.
  • Given the visibility of this tower, particularly from the south and east, the Panel suggests carefully considering a lighting scheme that accentuates the top of the building at night and during the dark months of the year. Emphasis should also be placed on appropriately lighting the heritage attributes of the Medical Arts Building.
  • To better differentiate the tower from the podium, the Panel suggests a glass reveal floor, slightly inset from the rest of the tower.

Landscape

  • The Panel is supportive of continuing the street trees along Metcalfe Street, however recommends careful consideration of placement and species, in order to avoid blocking too much of the view toward the main entrance of the building.
  • The Panel recommends removing the trees proposed on the rooftop of the heritage building, and considering an alternative landscape plan for this space that is less visibly intrusive.
  • The Panel emphasizes the need for clear walking and site lines within the public realm, particularly for the visibly impaired. Understanding the challenge of transitioning from a more residential sidewalk condition (to the west) to a commercial sidewalk, the Panel has concerns with this transition occurring at the driveway access point along Nepean Street. Street tree placement along Nepean should consider the site lines of pedestrians coming from the west. Reconsider the need for these trees along Nepean, if alternate positioning is not feasible.

1545 Bank | Formal Review | Site Plan application to construct an eight storey residential building with commercial uses at grade | FES Group; chmiel architects; Novatech Engineering Consultants Ltd.

Summary

  • The Panel is supportive of many of the big moves associated with this proposal, such as the introduction of retail at the corner to animate Bank Street, the residential and parking garage entrance off Evans Avenue, as well as the street tree treatments and associated streetscape amenities.
  • The Panel sees this project as precedent and context setting as this will be a building that starts to establish an urban character in a suburban area. Given this context, the building will serve as a long view termination from many vantage points for many years to come and the Panel suggests that all four elevations be designed to reflect this visibility. Further consideration should also be given to transition this building from the commercial character of Bank Street to the low-rise established residential neighbourhood to the east, is required.

Transition and Architectural Expression

  • The Panel is concerned with the compatibility of this building relative to the the low-rise residential neighbourhood to the east. There is particular concern because this will likely be an isolated building for the short-to-long term, and the prospect of development on the adjacent dental office site is very low.
    • The Panel suggests lowering the corner of the building along Evans Avenue to serve as a height transition.  This will set an important precedent for how new buildings on Bank Street respond to the adjacent residential areas.
  • The Panel feels very strongly that the blank end wall are not appropriate, and that design alterations are required in order to improve these long view conditions and to create a positive transition toward both the residential neighbourhood to the east, and the adjacent property to the north along Bank Street.
    • Lower the wing of the building along Evans Avenue to four or six storeys, and redesign the units so that they wrap the corner. Introduce glazing and consider wrapping balconies to this side façade, as a gesture to the residential neighbourhood. Consider some smaller units to avoid significant reductions to the unit count. In order to achieve these revisions to the Evans side façade, it will be necessary to simplify the structural grid of the building, opening up efficiencies. This can be achieved by:
      • Relocating the elevator shafts to line up with the main portion of the building along Bank Street;
      • Moving the mechanical penthouse to the north, parallel with Bank Street, and away from the residential area;
      • Relocating the staircase to an internal location.
    • The Panel suggests paying more attention to the north façade and avoid the appearance of ‘slicing’ off the building. Wrap the materials and architectural detailing from the Bank Street façade to this side wall. 
  • Once it is relocated to the main portion of the building, the Panel recommends lowering the mechanical penthouse. The mechanical penthouse could be integrated towards the corner of the building along an axis, thus easing the bulkiness in relation to both the commercial property to the north, and the residential area to the east.
  • The Panel agrees that the overall approach to the design of the front façade, a base of three stories with five stories above, is appropriate. Consider, however, stepping back or introducing a terrace at the top floor.
  • The Panel suggests exploring rooftop lighting schemes that can help emphasize the architecture of the building.

Materiality

  • To ensure the building has a more residential and less commercial look, the Panel suggests using brick, natural materials, and other colour accents.
    • Specifically, the Panel recommends more brick cladding (particularly on the lower portions of the building) in order to reflect the character of the adjacent residential neighbourhood, and better integrate the building into its surroundings.
  • The Panel suggests articulating a stronger top, middle and bottom expression through material changes, which can help to break up the massing of the building.

Public Realm and Amenity

  • The Panel appreciates the pubic space associated with the café at the corner, and generally is supportive of the proposed public realm initiatives. With appropriate coordination of the hydro pads, gas metres, grills, and the bus stop, the overall impact on the adjacent streets can be quite positive.
    • Add street furniture and coordinated lighting to further enhance the public realm.
    • Ensure coordination with the City as it relates to road widening intentions.
  • The Panel has some concern with the disconnect between where the new sidewalk meets the existing sidewalk to the north of the site. Also, ensure that the pedestrian flow, is smooth at the corner of Bank and Evans, as the dogleg at the corner seems to be slightly awkward.
  • The Panel has some concerns with the limited setback between this site and the adjacent dental practice property on Evans. Requirements for shoring and screening may require more space on this side.
  • The Panel suggests adding more lighting or introducing bollards to better establish an urban condition that attracts people to the site.
  • Consider introducing sustainable initiatives such as adding a garden to the rooftop amenity space.