“The project speaks to things larger than the buildings; it speaks to creating urban spaces.”
—Barry Hobin, Design Partner
This urban redevelopment project in the heart of Ottawa’s Hintonburg neighbourhood combines the preservation of a key greenspace along the Wellington Street West corridor with new built elements which strengthen both the greenspace and the street edge experience around it. Located two blocks east of Parkdale Avenue, the redeveloped property includes the former Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre (BHC) site at 1140 Wellington St. W. as well as a small surface parking lot at the corner of Wellington and Rosemount Avenue, making the site essentially a corner lot.
The BHC had occupied the site since 1925, providing a range of social services to young parents. Having outgrown the almost ninety year-old building, the Centre relocated in 2013, freeing the land for new development that would contribute to the City’s intensification objectives.
Neighbouring properties, and in fact the entire block, are made up of a wide range of institutional, commercial and residential uses including a school, long-term care home, community health centre, public library, church, offices and residential buildings of varying size and density. With this diversity of uses, it was logical to introduce mixed-use elements in the redevelopment that would serve both existing neighbours as well as those that would call the new development their home. The project consists of four main elements which are described below. While each of these pieces contribute to the overall project in a different way, a common architectural vocabulary and planning theme ties it all together.
This building includes 52 residential units over five floors above a ground floor with four leasable commercial units. The building fronts onto Rosemount Ave., Wellington St. W. as well as the BHC lawn. The building’s exterior is characterized by a bold pattern of window mullions which mimic an industrial feel, creating a sense of history and permanence. The ground floor receives a heavier commercial treatment along Wellington and Rosemount, but becomes lighter and more transparent when it turns the corner to the public lawn. The sixth floor is capped with a continuous overhang and is treated in lighter materials to bring down the perceived scale. Both corners fronting Wellington are treated with glassy transparency further reducing the building’s mass.
The BHC was renovated to house commercial tenants at the ground floor with four residential units at the second floor. The basement has been repurposed with some amenities for the new apartment building.
Situated behind the renovated BHC and landlocked by existing buildings to the east, south and west, this tower presented a challenge of access. Because the building’s Wellington frontage is effectively cut off by the existing BHC, a glassy entrance vestibule was introduced beside the existing BHC providing at once an accessible entrance and a distinctive front door to the residence in behind. Its sleek, contemporary design contrasts the heritage building while providing a safe, visible entry directly from Wellington via the public lawn.
Formerly a grassy front lawn to the BHC, its legacy is preserved through a large sodded area with sparse garden plantings. The reinvented lawn is intersected by a series of public walking paths strategically oriented to provide straight-line pedestrian access from the sidewalk to the various building entrances and walkways as well as to a sculptural metal pergola.
A continuous sidewalk along Wellington is preserved by placing the parking garage entrance at Rosemount Avenue, tucked between the existing Library and Community Health Centre. A successful public-private transition is achieved through a raised terrace located east of the BHC that provides access through to Rosemount and the ground floor terraces of the rental building. The lawn, along with the glass entrance feature provides a break in the street wall with varying building setbacks and alignment providing interest to the streetscape and introducing space for leisure activities and small events adjacent to the sidewalk.
The major goals in the architectural treatment of the new buildings were:
The redevelopment complements and enlivens an underutilized part of a vacant urban lot while fitting into the existing context in terms of height, massing and architectural design. The project achieves the planned function of the Wellington Street West traditional mainstreet through an appropriate scaled development that enhances the pedestrian environment. Finally, the development creates spaces that are safe and visible at all times by placing windows and effectively eyes onto Wellington St. W. and the public lawn. ◼
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