Life in Lansdowne Land

A stroll in through the Byward Market in Ottawa

Since I am the only one left in Ottawa who has not given an opinion on Lansdowne, I thought I’ll give a few comments on the clip that is produced. At first glance, the new Cannon Design Lansdowne proposal looks really nice. A bit too nice perhaps? In general, I think the space is well used, but the clip below does make it a wee too idyllic. Let’s take a look at the clip first:

Lansdowne Park from Cannon Design on Vimeo.

I am in awe what you can do with fly-thru graphics software nowadays. There is lots of detail, and even reflection in the windows. Visualising in 3D definitely helps people to convince to buy into a plan. Probably something for the Liberal Party? Cannon Design (‘an ideas based practice’) has done some really neat stuff, like the well received Olympic Oval in Richmond, BC for example, so do take a close look at this proposal.

So how does the world according to Cannon look like?

Well, Cannon’s world knows only slim tall people; the reality is that 75% of Ontario’s population is too heavy (or robust as an Eddy Bauer sales clerk called it the other day).

A stroll at the Byward Market in Ottawa

I see no less than thirteen cyclists on the roads in Lansdowne and only one car. Even Groningen in the Netherlands, the city with the world’s highest bike modal share, doesn’t even get close to that ratio though. But I am happy to see so many cyclists in the clip. At least someone acknowledge our existence.

There is parking space for about 40 cars. Not sure why these 40 cars can’t park underground with the other 960, one might as well make it completely car free, as Councillor Chernushenko proposes:

CBC News

Ottawa councillor David Chernushenko said he opposes the inclusion of three roads open to cars that are included in the latest plans of a redeveloped Lansdowne Park. On Monday, the city and its partner, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, unveiled updated drawings for building a park, retail stores and a refurbished Frank Clair stadium on the site.

Roger Greenberg of OSEG said the planned streets are needed for shoppers, deliveries, and on-street parking, but said for major events, the roads will be closed to cars. “We’ve taken great pains to try to make sure that pedestrians and cyclists have predominance,” said Greenberg.

But Chernushenko said instead of the perceived convenience and street parking, the city should consider the less tangible benefits. “This would be a better site if it’s a car-free site,” said Chernushenko. “There’s a freedom, a liberty, to feeling like ‘phewww’…I can stroll here without looking over my shoulder all the time,” he said. (Loading and unloading could still be allowed though – UB)

Chernushenko said he’ll keep pushing for alterations to make Lansdowne car-free on all days. “We can do something bold and special here and actually make it more socially and commercially successful, if we dare to do it,” he said. “I’m sure we won’t regret it.”

source: CBC Website

No, it won’t be a second Sparks Street, as there is actually something to do, like shopping at Crate & Barrel and at Whole Foods or going to the movies or a game (see my blog on the 7 ideas to bring the Spark back to Sparks Street). At Christmas time, Lansdowne looks more Dickensian than London, England does around that time. I am not so sure yet if big box stores will move in, as they have a preference for suburbia. You’ll probably see more Rideau Centre type stores.

Shoppers Drug might want to claim a corner though, like they did in the new building on Roosevelt and Richmond in Westboro, making it a bit of a dead windy corner over there. Who knows, box stores come up with micro stores, where they only sell small stuff  on tight floor space. The type of products that you can carry home. Hopefully, stores are not allowed to continue the new trend in store fronts as seen in more and more places. To save on shop windows decorators create more wall space, stores simply cover the windows with film, as seen below at the Paradis store near Billings Bridge:

More and more stores cover their windows, not good for 'eyes on the street' and certainly not attractive.

A Closer Look

But let’s take a closer look to some visual tricks. Approaching from Bank Street, the first thing we notice is that all hydro poles are removed from Bank, including the overhead wires. Further, Bank Street is completely traffic light free, which is not what it is or ever will be. There are no traffic signs either. They don’t fit in a designers world. The bike lane that was just painted last year -coming from the bridge heading north towards Holmwood- is gone and replaced by parked cars. As Alex wonders, how do cyclists get there?

Bank Street in the vision of Lansdowne - screenshot Lansdowne video.
The real McCoy - screen shot Google Street View.

Lansdowne is a complete safe place, there doesn’t even appear a need for fire hydrants. Only a single car drives around on the property, not using its indicator while turning right and there are no cars lined up at the intersections. Coming in from Queen Elizabeth Drive (0:50) it looks like you are walking on a pedestrian friendly gravel path, simular to Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris. In reality there will be cars.

Jardin de Luxembourg, Paris - Photo: Paolo Targino Moreir (Flickr)
Entering Lansdowne from the east end - Screen capture video Lansdowne

Sun in the north

Flying in over the property, the high rise place holders are conveniently transparent, making the place a nice low rise collection of buildings. With one sun in the north and one in the south -judging by the shadows on the streets of Lansdowne- the buildings won’t ever cast a shadow over the area. In reality, the shadow of the high rise on Bank covers a large part of the field in the afternoon. That might actually not always be a bad thing though as it is perpetually summer in Lansdowne, even when the rest of the Glebe is already sliding into autumn from what I can see, with its foliage turning brown and dark.

The sun is in the south, as you can see on the shadows in this Google screen capture.
Lansdowne has a sun in the north too as you can see in this Lansdowne screen capture.

Where is the game?

The stadium is sold out, but I am not sure what the public is watching. If it is a soccer game, than they better ask their money back, as the goals are missing. I doubt that the flimsy lights flood the field at night. Smart people can stand on the slightly raised grounds at the east end of the field, watching the game for free. No fences or walls shield the field from watching events.

Balloons galore

There will be quadruplets selling balloons at Lansdowne. I have never seen one in Ottawa, so I think that is a bit of wishful thinking. Who buys a balloon anyway?

If Lansdowne is going to be the way it is shown, it is going to be a very pretty place. But don’t hold your breath in terms of traffic. Lansdowne is no Disneyland, it is real life, which means bumper to bumper cars. So to give you an idea how it could really look like, even car free, I ‘ll finish with two pictures, one of a screen shot of the video and one of the home town where I grew up in the Netherlands: Lansingerland (coincidentally, starting with the same four characters).

Lansdowne in 15 years....... (screen shot Lansdowne video)
....and 20 years ago introduced in Lansingerland: a car free and bike rich shopping. The parking lot on the left is approached from another street. There is no underground parking.

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