Touring Modern Ottawa – CUAG Bike Tour

Curtain Wall House, Tokyo, Japan. Shigeru Ban, 1995

Curtain Wall House, Tokyo, Japan. Shigeru Ban, 1995 (Image taken from

The Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) has organized a bike tour of modern curtain wall architecture here in Ottawa.  This is an excellent opportunity to discover some modern buildings that you may not known about while also learning more about curtain walls – a staple of modern architecture.


CUAG: Lifting the Curtain – A Bike Tour of Modern Curtain Wall Architecture in Ottawa

Sunday, Sept. 22, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Come ride your bike around some of the city’s Modernist architecture with Carleton University Art Gallery’s FREE Bike Tour of Modern Curtain Walls in Ottawa! Meet at Carleton University Art Gallery at 2 p.m., where we’ll start the tour with a walk-through of Young & Giroux’s exhibition, Y & G #12 (curtain walls). Architectural historian Andrew Waldron will then lead us on a bike tour of famous and hidden examples of Modern curtain wall architecture in Ottawa. We’ll end the tour downtown. All ages and biking skills are welcome on this leisurely bike ride!
Registration is required – please email or call 613-520-2600, ext. 4219.


If your not in a building/construction industry you may be wondering what a “curtain wall” is – yes, the image above is literally a curtain wall house; no, this is not what I’m referring to when I say curtain wall.

A curtain wall is a lightweight cladding system that is designed to span form floor to floor. When steel (and later concrete) structures were developed it meant that heavy masonry loadbearing walls were no longer necessary. As the exterior walls were no longer supporting the building they could  become primarily glass. Think about the all glass condos or office towers; those are curtain wall systems. Personally, when I recall images of a curtain wall, I prefer pictures of the Bauhaus College in Dessau, where you can see the concrete structure behind the glass curtain wall.

What building comes to mind when you think about curtain walls?


Bauhaus College, Dessau, 1925. Designed by Walter Gropius. (Image taken from


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