JanesWalkOtt: Byward history coming attractions

The walk will explore the stories behind the conservation of familiar buildings in the By Ward Market Heritage Conservation District. It will also examine controversial still un-built new buildings such as the NCC’s 7 Clarence Street (previously demolished). The walk will explain the progress in installing the former Ogilvy Department Store heritage façade on the new Rideau Centre building (under construction) and ask questions about the future of the By Ward “Farmer’s Market.”

The Byward Market: Inside Stories of Heritage Conservation

Ottawa architect Barry Padolsky’s Byward Market heritage conservation walk is an annual favourite. Every year Padolsky varies the route to discuss different aspects of the Market and its history—usually touching on projects currently in the news. Spacing Ottawa has a great coverage of last year’s walk, when as you may recall Clarence Street and the old Memories building at Sussex was a contentious issue.

This year’s walk was similarly timely. The main stop of the walk (more talk than walk) was at Rideau and William Streets in front of the old Caplan’s department store (now Urban Outfitters). Apparently the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee was successful in its appeal to the city (see here) not to approve the permit for its demolition in 2003.

From here, Padolsky discussed the Rideau Centre redevelopment, Rideau Street renewal plans, Rideau LRT station, and Ogilvy’s façade restoration.

You may have seen coverage earlier today about the laying of the first brick of the Ogilvy façade. Ogilvy’s was designed by Ottawa architect W.E. Noffke (watch for him to appear again in the review of the Glebe walk). In 2012, the building was demolished but the façade was carefully deconstructed for restoration.

Padolsky explained the labourious task of restoration and the steel armature that has been constructed to support the façade. He even brought along the architectural drawings and one of the restored stones—a chance to touch a piece of history that once back in its place likely won’t be touched by human hands again for a long time.

The other exciting news is the plan for a new pedestrian mall along the section of Nicholas next to Ogilvy’s and leading up to Arts Court and site of the new OAG (another project Padolsky has been involved with and one I tackled for a studio project way back in 2005)—essentially extending the existing pedestrian mall on William, creating an important link between the Market, Rideau Street, the new LRT station, and the OAG.

As for the other plans for Rideau Street, Padolsky recounted the satisfaction of being hired to remove the failed infamous Rideau Street bus shelter after leading the battle against them (before my time in Ottawa). Today, the street is seeing further reconsideration and reversals of past redesigns. (At least) one of the pedestrian bridges in being removed between the Bay and the Rideau Centre. The layout of the street, sidewalks, and buslanes is being revamped for a more walk friendly space.

As for the LRT station, the old Bank of Nova Scotia on the corner of William and Rideau has been demolished and presumably construction is underway. No one seemed overly disappointed about the loss of the bank but hopefully my fellow lovers of Ottawa modernism are a little sad to see another piece of the heritage-everyone-loves-to-hate gone. Beating me to the punch as always, there’s a great post that just went up on Urbsite about the bank and its neighbour. Yes, hidden under that faux historicized façade of Sugar Mountain is another modern gem. Both by Ottawa architect Charles B. Greenberg.

The walk then returned to the ByWard Market. An interesting discussion but a familiar one. Cars vs. pedestrians. Big chains vs. local farmers. Tourists vs. locals. Perhaps it’s a good overall lesson for heritage and conservation—the more the Market changes, the more it stays the same.

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