1976 Scott Street and 320 McRae | Formal Review | Major Zoning Amendment | Roderick Lahey Associates Inc.
- The Panel recognizes the reoccurring urban design dilemma faced by development projects adjacent to future LRT stations along this line; appropriately transitioning to the existing low-rise residential area.
- The Panel is supportive of the evolution of this project, particularly with respect to the built form. The Panel’s comments seek to refine certain aspects of the proposal, including the tower width on the north and south elevation, the corner condition, and the quality of the pedestrian realm. The project, with some adjustments, can positively contribute to the evolving high-rise character of this section of Scott Street.
- The Panel is of the opinion that the proposed tower is too wide from the north and south elevation. Squaring the tower, as opposed to the current rectangular expression would result in a slimmer profile, thus reducing the slab appearance.
- The reduction in the width of the tower, and the introduction of variations and breaks in the Scott Street façade should be implemented in the zoning. The adjustment to the form can be achieved, in part, through the rearranging of stairs and elevators – and a slimmer form would result in a reduction in the need for material changes.
- The Panel believes that some additional height to the tower could be acceptable from an urban design perspective if designed appropriately, and it could provide an opportunity to introduce a more dynamic top to the building that could include penthouse units.
- It is the opinion of the Panel that balconies along the west elevation should be integrated into the main face of the tower.
- The podium should be clearly articulated at the corner of Scott Street and Tweedsmuir Avenue. The Panel believes that the zoning should ensure that the vertical expression of the tower does not begin immediately at the corner.
Ground Floor and Pedestrian Environment
- The Panel discussed the merits of expanding the site area. In particular, the adjacent lot immediately to the south along Tweedsmuir Avenue. This would allow for the creation of a pathway linking Tweedsmuir Avenue to McRae Street. Barring this, a laneway through the lot, as narrow as 1.2m in width, would allow for a distinct pedestrian circulation through the site, creating a pleasant buffer between the high-rise portion of the site and the low-rise residential character to the south.
- The Panel is of the opinion that the McRae Street building edge should be recessed in order to create a wider promenade, with a double row of trees in front of the ground level retail units. This would significantly increase the quality of the retail environment and the streetscape.
- The Panel suggests reducing the length of the four-storey building along McRae Street in order to increase the size of the proposed park.
- It is the opinion of the Panel that the height of the ground floor retail units along McRae should be increased in order to appropriately accommodate commercial uses.
- The Panel believes there is a need for some design cohesion amongst the new tower developments along Scott Street. Consider a six-storey podium, which could act as a datum line along the block, which could be picked up by future projects.
- The Panel has some varying opinions regarding the transition from the proposed tower to the existing low-density residential neighbourhood to the south along Tweedsmuir Avenue. The Panel points out that the three-storey townhouse units do not directly relate to either the proposed tower to the north, or the existing house forms to the south, however a housing form of three to five stories may be successful at this location. Consider allowing for more breathing room between these units and the allée.
340 Huntmar Drive | Site Plan Control Application | Microtel Kanata Inn and Suites by Wyndham; Dredge Leahy Architects Inc.
- The Panel appreciates the opportunity to comment on this important addition to the Kanata Town Centre, and understands the challenges associated with carefully balancing the architectural expression as it relates to the particular aspects of the site’s context, with regimented corporate standards. Despite this, the Panel feels strongly that this proposal represents an opportunity for the proponent elevate the Microtel corporate brand as it enters the national capital market, particularly on this property, which acts as a gateway site with the Kanata Town Centre.
- It is a mandate of this Panel that buildings must face the public street. As such, the Panel does not support the approach presented, which aligns the street edge with the rear side of the hotel. The Panel strongly advises that the building be flipped so that the front faces Huntmar Drive. It is the Panel’s opinion that the facing the front of the building toward the street is a critical urban design starting point.
Architectural Expression and Building Orientation
- The Panel strongly recommends flipping the building, so that the front faces Huntmar Drive, while the parking area abuts the rear of the hotel. The rear façade can still function as the location of an entrance to the hotel for those arriving by car, but this entrance should be secondary to the street facing entrance.
- Relocating the main entrance to the Huntmar Drive façade should include the addition of a canopy, and possibly a glass block feature, and other design elements that give visual prominence to this entrance along the street. Attempts to bring surprise and delight to the streetscape, through architectural detailing at the main entrance, would be appreciated by the Panel.
- Consider ways to enhance the window surrounds and the cornice along Huntmar Drive in order to add some colour to the overall expression.
- The Panel recommends relocating the tower element, along with other architectural elements associated with the front entrance, to the Huntmar Drive façade. Align the tower with the entrance.
- With respect to the pool area, the Panel suggests increasing the size of the windows, possibly enclosing the waterslide entirely in glass, with the intent of creating a memorable visual beacon at this corner of the property. This will distinguish the overall expression of the hotel and help to animate its presence on the street. Consider cladding the pool pavilion with brick to differentiate it from the rest of the hotel.
- Consider bringing up the brick cladding on the main part of the hotel to the third floor of the building (the grey line).
Landscape and Amenity
- The Panel strongly believes that a Landscape Architect is required in order for the project to be successful. Landscape is of particular importance given the extensive, well-integrated, and lush landscape features on the Tanger Outlet property across the street, as well as the opportunity provided by the lots’ adjacency to a creek. Try to integrate the existing landscape context into the site.
- The Panel is of the opinion that more trees and shrubs should be planted along the Huntmar Drive edge in order to bring more landscape interest to the front of the property.
99 Fifth Court | Formal Review | Minor Zoning Amendment | Minto; Tact Architecture Inc.; FOTENN Planning & Design
- The Panel commends the applicant on a well thought out and rational proposal on a very important traditional commercial block in the city’s Glebe neighbourhood. Fundamentally, the Panel appreciates the gesture of preserving the existing brick commercial building along Bank Street. The Panel believes that the critical objective of this development must be its successful integration into the Fourth and Fifth Avenue streetscape, as well as a design that is sensitive to the existing Bank Street commercial block. The Panel is of the opinion that the current proposal needs significant improvements in order to express itself appropriately as a background building that emphasizes the visual primacy of the historic street façade. It is recommended that this application return to the Panel in order to review further refinements to the proposal.
Heritage Context and Design
- The Panel commends the applicant for the appropriate use of natural and natural looking materials, such as stone and synthetic wood, which will integrate the new construction well with the existing heritage commercial row.
- The Panel recommends using red brick on the first two levels of the new building, along the Fourth and Fifth Avenue façades, to ensure continuity with the existing building along Bank Street, and to connect the building to the character of the residential streetscapes to the east. Also, consider using stone on the foundations to reflect the material patterns of the nearby houses.
- Overall, neutral colours and materials are important to maintain contextual cohesion.
- In order to give the building a quieter expression and better respect the heritage character of the neighbourhood, the Panel is of the opinion that the upper stories, beyond the two-storey datum line, should be recessed. The upper stories of the building should be simple in their expression to allow the building to function visually as a backdrop. This would allow for a reduction in the roof massing, permitting the mechanical room to be centred, and surrounded by amenity space, thereby improving the visual experience of the building from elsewhere in the neighbourhood.
- Appropriately integrating the new building into the existing residential neighbourhood is crucial. The Panel recommends establishing a clear two-storey datum line across both the Fourth and Fifth Avenue facades, to align with the two-and-a-half storey houses that line these streets. The datum lines can be established by the roofs of direct access townhouse units fronting the streets, and can reflect a contemporary expression. The setback of the building at the ground level, on both the north and south façades, should be generally flush with the houses to the east.
- The Panel is concerned with the contrast of the massing between the new and existing building, particularly as viewed from the northwest. There is a 90-degree angle where the west facing façade extends upward, to the top of the building, from the existing heritage structure. Consider stepping back upper floors of the building so that the massing contrast is less stark.
- The composition of the balconies is distracting in its current form. The Panel recommends integrating balconies into the façades of the new building, thereby making the vertical bands more prominent, and establishing a simplified vertical alignment on the north and south façades.
- It is the opinion of the Panel that the visibility of the heritage building would be enhanced if the lobby to the residential units were pushed back beyond the wall of the existing building. The design of the entrance could also be simplified as to not detract from the heritage building at this corner.
Laneway and Outdoor Amenity
- The Panel recommends that the outdoor amenity area proposed between the existing and the new building is reconsidered to ensure that the space is activated and useful for its users.
- The Panel is concerned with the proposed diagonal parking spots along the rear laneway. The pedestrian experience can be ameliorated by eliminating these parking spaces, or converting them to parallel spaces, and introducing direct access to the ground level studio units facing the rear of the lot.
- It is the opinion of the Panel that the applicant should conceptualize the rear lane as a Woonerf, where its treatment and functionality create a welcoming public space that clearly prioritizes pedestrians. The connection between Fourth and Fifth Avenue could include vehicular use, but the design should ensure slow speeds for these users.
386 Richmond | Formal Review | Site Plan Control Application | rla/architecture; FOTENN Planning & Design
- The Panel recognizes the challenges associated with this narrow property, and commends the proponent for presenting a good overall design, with an appropriate use of cladding material. This model of development is of interest to the Panel; however, there are some concerns associated with the replicability of this proposal on other lots within the vicinity, given constraints associated with building setbacks and potentially limited separation distances between buildings.
- It is the opinion of the Panel that the proposed 16 residential units is very ambitious given the site constraints. Specifically, the three-metre rear yard setback to an abutting lot could be problematic for future development to the rear.
- It is the Panel’s opinion that the proposed metal panel board cladding material is appropriate. However, given the visibility on the east and west sides of proposed six-storey structure, the Panel recommends exploring options for improving the appearance of the side facades. Pursue solutions involving digital printing, mural designs, or adding texture, as this represents an important gesture to the neighbourhood.
- To add cohesion to the front façade, the Panel recommends echoing the main commercial window proposed on the first floor, on the upper levels of the building as well.
- To further enhance the aesthetic quality of the building, the Panel suggests adding colour to the soffits, or to other visible architectural elements.
Context and Replicability
- The Panel recognizes that an important challenge associated with this site is maintaining street continuity. It is the opinion of the Panel that the recess of the façade at the building entrance should be reduced. Bringing the entrance closer to the sidewalk will allow the building to better align with the existing buildings on Richmond Road, thus maintaining the existing rhythm on the street, as defined by building entrances.
- The rear setback is highly problematic if a development is proposed on the lot at the rear. The Panel asks that an increase to this setback be considered. If the rear lot were developed in a similar way, there would only be six metres separation between the structures, seriously compromising the quality of life for residents of both buildings. Typically, a minimum of six-metres is the required rear setback to ensure sufficient sunlight, with an ideal of 7.5 metres.
- Given the site context and the potential for similar development on the adjacent properties to the east and west, the Panel suggests that the glazing and light should extend from the front and rear of the building, with the sidewalls remaining solid.
- As a potential model to consider, the Panel suggests looking at the Belgian narrow house form, designed with high ceilings that allow for penetration of light deep into the interior.
- The Panel is of the opinion that bicycle parking should be at grade. Moving the entrance closer to the street could allow for a reconfiguration of the interior layout of the ground floor, thus allowing space for bicycle parking.