Touring the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards

July 7, 2017

It’s one for the Ottawa history books, an important architectural reinvention, revitalizing the old and investing in the future, within a template of sustainability. Welcome to 7 Bayview Road, now commonly referred to as the Bayview Yards – Ottawa’s Innovation Hub. Collisions of creative geniuses, entrepreneurs and professionals from the community – a diverse mix of companies working together, in support the overall mandate of Bayview, and giving back to the community – all under one roof.Located between Scott Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, the original industrial building was constructed in 1941 as part of Bayview Yards, a large municipal complex that included machinery storage, maintenance and repair shops and various offices. After years of use and abuse, broken windows, rusting steel, and graffiti-covered walls, the building ceased all operations in 2000, and was sitting vacant… until now. When initial construction began on the new Innovation Centre, Mayor Jim Watson was quoted saying this renovation would be “one of the most exciting projects” the city would help lead in the next decade.

The project team from Hobin Architecture, comprising Sandy Davis, Dan Henhoeffer, Leila Emmrys and Hugo Latreille, was thrilled to be a part of this heritage renovation, along with design-build partners Morley Hoppner. The entire consultant and construction team rallied together to complete the project on schedule, which was no small feat given the complexity of the building’s many integrated systems and the poor condition of the existing structure.

With Ottawa generally lacking centrally located industrial-style office spaces, the Bayview Yards heritage building was the perfect place for young start-ups and entrepreneurs to call home. The essence of the space was rich with history and full of character – a dream open-concept workplace for any next generation professional. There currently aren’t many opportunities in the city within distance of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and spectacular views of the Ottawa River.

Upon entering the building, you’re greeted at reception (complete with digital check-in), surrounded by tons of natural sunlight and a stunning feature focal point – the red structural steel staircase. A huge digital television is suspended from the ceiling, with media monitors displaying content from tenants and ongoing events. Beyond that, large windows provide visitors and tenants with a long view out to the outdoor terrace.

The building’s facade was preserved, and many of the doors and windows were restored to meet today’s standards for energy efficiency. New windows and doors were designed to match the look of the historic ones. With 55,000 square feet of space, the building features corporate office space, rental office spaces and services suited to start-up businesses. Tenants enjoy the onsite café and lounge serviced by LUNCH, concierge on the main floor, digital media spaces, and enough meeting rooms throughout so that no one is without a private meeting space. Digital calendar “displays” are installed outside each of the meeting rooms to let visitors know who’s booked the rooms, and for how long. Meeting rooms can also be booked for the public to rent.

Known as the “spine of the building,” ground floor offices have movable walls, wooden screen partitions, soft seating, and open conversation areas with bright, comfortable furniture and seating (this space is available for tenants/employees only through special card access). There are no enclosed cubicles, only open flow work spaces to allow employees to work freely and encouraging open conversations and collaboration. Quiet conversations and private phone calls can be had in dedicated privacy booths to avoid booking meeting rooms. Secluded areas are mixed throughout with casual, comfortable seating across from a blank wall, perfect for displaying presentations, and informal meetings.

A gorgeous view of the Ottawa River and downtown skyline can be seen from the 2nd floor terrace, the perfect place for small outdoor events, and of course, a nice secluded break space for all the tenants. Close by, the South West Community Centre and Hintonburg Mechanics also run a community garden with fruit berry trees and lots of lush green space.

A cyclist commuter’s dream, the bicycle storage room was integrated into the basement of the building, with its own entrance directly from the outside. Washrooms and showers allow cyclists to freshen up before starting their work day.

The most impressive spot on site has to be the centralized auditorium space, called the “RBC Foundry.” Open to the public, it is an ideal place for large meetings, presentations, trade shows, banquets, events, theatre productions and even live music. Suspended projectors and audio/visual technology were integrated into the space for such activities. A hidden storage compartment houses over 250 folding chairs, and the room’s 4-tier seat stair provides additional seating or can double as a stage for performances and presentations. The space is a celebration and showcase of the rejuvenated industrial building, its history and the remarkable innovation capabilities and expertise Ottawa has to offer.

The building is expected to achieve Gold certification under the LEED program, once it completes its first year of operation. The facility boasts numerous sustainable features such as reduced energy consumption, “smart” building automation, urban agriculture, and alternative transportation.

Sonya Shorey, Director of Communications for Bayview Yards, was thrilled to host a founding sponsor event and the opening of MadeMill, the advanced manufacturing and digital media laboratory with federal, provincial and municipal investors, and more than 250 members of Ottawa’s innovation community in June. She looks forward to celebrating the Grand Opening of the first innovation hub of its kind this fall. “Honouring the past and turning opportunity into reality,” Sonya has been passionately promoting the project since the day construction began.

Bayview Yards is the ultimate mashup of promising entrepreneurs and technology firms with the technical and business capabilities to make some major changes in the world – our team was proud to be an integral part of this project.

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