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Ottawa's city council has decided to go ahead with plans to redevelop Lansdowne Park, a 37-acre parcel of land...
Ottawa’s city council has decided to go ahead with plans to redevelop Lansdowne Park, a 37-acre parcel of land on Bank Street, located adjacent to the historic Rideau Canal and blocks south of Parliament Hill.
For over 100 years the site has been home to the Central Canada Exhibition, and contains various exhibition buildings as well as a sports stadium. Today, however, it is mostly paved over with asphalt, and lies empty and desolate for much of the year. So dismal is this “blighted landscape” that the National Capital Commission has screened it off in places from an adjacent highway and the Rideau Canal, which has been designated a World Heritage Site.
The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group has been proposing plans for the site since 2008. With the city council’s decision on June 28, OSEG now has approval to move ahead in a public-private partnership with the city. OSEG will provide half of the $250 million to build the first phase, and it will have a 30-year lease to operate the site.
While the park will remain a venue for sports events, the exhibition and trade shows are having to move out to other locations outside the downtown core. OSEG has a franchise for a CFL club and wants a home for it. It also plans to bring soccer to Ottawa.
The first phase of redevelopment includes refurbishing the Frank Clair Stadium and Civic Centre arena, and building a mixture of retail and residential buildings, movie theatres, etc. with public spaces and a large central piazza. The National Capital Commission, which is nearby, had input into the overall design, suggesting street vistas, etc.
The historic Aberdeen Pavilion, which dates from 1898 and was restored during the 1990s, will be the centrepiece of the new development and will face onto the piazza. A large steel structure with wide spans that was designed in the style of the Crystal Palace in London, England, the Aberdeen Pavilion has a long military history in Ottawa. It was used, for example to muster troops before they left for World War I. Now it is to be home to shops and cafes.
Another historic structure, the Horticultural Building, is to be moved near to the Aberdeen pavilion and a farmers market. However, this proposal is being opposed by architectural conservancy groups.
Much of the asphalt on the grounds is to be replaced, and the greenspace will include a “stunning front lawn” park that will run alongside the Rideau Canal and beside a new grandstand in the stadium. This south grandstand curves around with the canal and has been designed as oval slatted wood structure. It will have 24,000 permanent seats, and a capacity for 45,000.
A Vancouver firm, Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg, won an international competition to design the urban park. The team that helped OGES develop the revitalization of the stadium and Civic Centre included BBB Architects/Stadium Consultants International, consulting engineers Adjeleian Allen Rubeli and Smith & Andersen, and PCL Constructors. Delcan was the consultant involved in the transportation, parking, infrastructure and environmental plans.