More trees, red brick in detailed Lansdowne design

on .

Laura Mueller,

OTTAWA - A tree-filled Lansdowne Park with a lot of red brick buildings was the updated vision for the site presented at city hall on Feb. 7.

The more detailed design of the storefront retail, glass-fronted cinema and wood-wrapped sports stadium is the product of six months of haggling among a team of experts that is designing the project, said planning committee chairman, Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume.

"Creativity often comes from a conflict of ideas," said Hume, a member of the design review panel for the Lansdowne project. "The process has been long and at times, extremely difficult."

The most notable changes were to the plans for the Horticulture Building, a historic structure that was stripped of its heritage designation in order to move it to a different spot on the site.

Julian Smith, the heritage architect in charge of that portion of the project, said a portion of the building will be permanently removed and the north façade, which faces Holmwood Avenue, will have a glass front instead of a brick wall.

That building will be turned into a meeting space that can hold up to 500 people, with space for smaller community events and a kitchen. There may also be an info booth and a restaurant in the Horticulture Building, Smith said.

OSEG and the city intend to seek re-designation for the Horticulture Building, Smith said, but David Flemming, former president of Heritage Ottawa, wasn't convinced it would be possible, given all the changes to the structure and that fact that it will be moved – a process that's estimated to cost $6 million.

A refrigerated outdoor skating and curling rink has been added to the most recent version of the plans, and it will be situated south of the Aberdeen Pavilion adjacent to the community garden and orchard. A children's play park is planned beside the rink, which could function as a basketball court in the summer.

The presentation didn't mention plans for the Aberdeen Pavilion building itself, but Smith said there will be few changes. It will mainly function as additional event space, like a large tent without climate control, Smith said. The farmers' market might make use of the space, or it could even be used as a large indoor space to park bicycles during events.

Mayor Jim Watson highlighted how the project will "re-green" the park, adding grassy areas and boosting the number of trees from the current 230 to 880 trees when the project is done.

In particular, a grid of trees was added to the design for the plaza in front of the Aberdeen Pavilion that will house the farmers' market.

The revitalized stadium is one of the first elements that will be constructed and is supposed to be ready for CFL play by 2014. The stadium's designer, Robert Claiborne, said the venue can hold up to 40,000 with the addition of temporary seating.

Claiborne also indicated that floor-level club seats will be added to the stadium.

The new south stands will be "embraced" by a curved wooden "veil" that will act as a transition between the curving landscape of the canal and the stadium, said George Dark, a planner who is also a member of the design review panel. It's not meant to protect the stands from the elements, but more as a design element, he added.

One of the buildings, listed as "Block A" at the corner of Holmwood and Bank, features a green roof, and Dark said there are plans to put solar panels on the roof of the Horticulture Building.

For a full photo gallery and a video of the site's design, visit the mayor's website.