NCC Watch

Working to consign the NCC to oblivion

Search string: "sussex-rideau"

Matches found: 3

Monday, March 9, 2009

"The monument part seems completely gratuitous"

Maria Cook takes a look at the NCC's plans for the Sussex-Rideau intersection in the Citizen:

Achieving the balance is a critical issue because it has to do with a change of attitude and to what extent traffic engineering dominates urban design choices. "If only we could get the traffic engineers to agree to take down the ugly traffic lights and install something more reasonable," says Rideau-Vanier Councillor Georges Bédard.

The space in question is a triangle with busy roads on two sides and a blank wall. It used to be the site of the Grand Hotel, which was attached to the east wall of the former Union Station, now the Government Conference Centre.

What makes it work from a traffic perspective is the MacKenzie Avenue ramp extension and the sunken underpass -- which has become a hangout for the homeless.

In three scenarios under study by the NCC, the underpass and the ramp would be removed.

[...]The NCC sees the space as having potential for some sort of monument, though with the Rideau Canal, a world heritage site, and Confederation Square nearby some people question whether there is a need to compete.

It may be enough to make it an attractive urban space, a pause on the ceremonial route, as well as a breathing point in civic life, whether you're getting on a bus at the Rideau Centre, passing in your car or riding your bike.

"The monument part seems completely gratuitous," says Paul Kariouk, architecture professor at Carleton University. "It's never going to have the significance of the Cenotaph. This thing could be a glorified traffic circle." Kariouk says there should be an ideas competition. "If it's a vital threshold into the city for dignitaries let's rethink what that could be. It's almost like the front door to downtown.

"It has to have some quality that allows you for a moment to forget the city," he says, as well as "a stunning night presence" with illumination.

Citizen: Taming a 'cranky intersection' [9 Mar 2009]
NCC Watch: Sussex-Rideau

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More on the NCC plans for Sussex-Rideau

Centretown News reports that the NCC's plans for the Rideau-Sussex-Wellington-Colonel By intersection were discussed at the most recent NCC meetup, and some artist impressions passed 'round. First revealed in the Citizen last July, the NCC's plans apparently include rebuilding the intersection and adding a monument of some sort:

The plans are far from complete and only represent the beginning stages of the project, officials say, adding that many planning obstacles need to be overcome and consultations held before any work begins to take place.

One issue already raised by some NCC board members is the substantial grade problem at the site - sloping ground with streets converging at awkward angles.

"Our next step is to talk to the City of Ottawa and Public Works, since they own the Conference Centre," says Irwin, "(then) hammer out an agreement and define timelines."

A planning document discussed at the meeting referred to "potential construction within the next five years."

The brief report noted that the intersection is "an important entry point into the capital core" and that the proposed redesign will be reviewed as part of a consultation among NCC, federal and municipal officials, area property owners, BIA representatives and citizen groups.

The intersection is one of the prime locations identified in a 2006 study of Confederation Boulevard as being an "eminent landmark" in the capital's development and deserving of a major public commemoration.

Of course it was an even more "important entry point into the capital core" when Union Station was a functioning train station instead of an anonymous and mostly empty federal building. According to the NCC's own web page on the "Urban Design Study" they are conducting, they are looking to "transform" the "space" to "represent a truly Canadian experience" and "symbolize Canada's values, ideals and role on the world stage." If it ends up being typical of the NCC, that translates into flagpoles for each province and territory. Frankly, we don't care, as long as the pedestrian underpass goes.

Centretown News: NCC planning local version of Times Square [5 Feb 2009]
Le Droit: Nouveau carrefour prés du centre Rideau [23 Jan 2009]
NCC: Urban Design Study - Sussex Drive, Rideau Street and Colonel By Drive

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tombstone of waste watch

The NCC has grand plans to rebuild two major downtown intersections, and decorate them with monuments. From documents obtained from the new, open NCC via Access to Information requests, the Citizen reports:

In a major remaking of downtown, the NCC wants to transform the messy Rideau-Sussex-Wellington-Colonel By intersection into a grand new gateway into the heart of the capital, complete with a commemorative national monument.

And on the western edge of the ceremonial route, officially known as Confederation Boulevard, the NCC will dramatically alter the Wellington-Portage intersection into a major landmark and western entrance into the city. The new intersection will be adorned with a "national commemoration of the highest order."

[...]According to the documents, the Sussex-Rideau-Colonel By intersection is the starting point of the project because it is the "historic centre of the capital." To reflect its importance, several plans are under consideration to reconfigure the intersection, but they would require the removal of the pedestrian tunnel underneath Colonel By, and the space in front of the Government Conference Centre, including the ramp.

[...]The Wellington-Portage redevelopment, however, offers less difficult challenges. On the edge of a waterfront area steeped in its own rich history and linked to Ottawa's lumber heritage, it is also the bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau. The NCC wants to turn it into the western gateway to the city.

The Sussex-Rideau-Colonel By work amounts to little more than fixing the work they botched the first time around - the odious pedestrian underpass never should have been built in the first place. But what of the monuments? Well, apparently they "would celebrate all aspects of Canadian life, everything from culture and economics to ideas and events. The only barrier to what can be done is the limit of one's imagination." The NCC is in charge, so the options are more or less limited to banal (the Peacekeeping monument) or laughable (the Human Rights monument).

At the east end, of course, there's already a "grand gateway into the heart of the capital, complete with a commemorative national monument" - any new monument would be redundant considering the war memorial is better situated and already provides whatever gateways are required. At the west end, NCC Watch suggests a monumental commemoration of the NCC's monumental 50-year blunder on the LeBreton Flats. A four-story bulldozer should do the trick.

Citizen: NCC to spend millions on grand entrances into city, documents show [16 July 2008]
Citizen: What do you think the NCC monument should honour? [16 July 2008]
Greater Ottawa: The gateway question [16 July 2008]
Citizen: Something to stir the imagination [18 July 2008]
Citizen: New Ottawa monument should honour city pioneers, readers say [18 July 2008]