November 16, 2018

24 Sussex Drive Ottawa~Prime Minister’s Residence National Architectural Competition?

The  New York Times has written about the crumbling stone building in Ottawa  at 24 Sussex Drive. This  was supposed to be the residence of the Prime Minister. The building, a huge stone house with over 35 rooms on four floors was originally built in 1868 by a lumberman for his own use. It was expropriated by the government in the mid 20th century, and underwent a very unfortunate renovation in the 1950’s that took off its original gingerbread trim and cladding.

Unlike 10 Downing Street in London and the White House in Washington, the purpose of 24 Sussex Drive was to be only a  residence. The spaces are not large enough for state dinners or formal functions, and many of the rooms as they exist are quite small. Located on a cliff overlooking the Ottawa River the location is stunning, however the house has not had good maintenance or stewardship for over 60 years.

Asking for tax payer funded  renovations of the house~and 2015 estimates valued the work at 15 million dollars~is not that good a look for any political party in office. The house has a leaky roof, knob and tube electrical, is riddled with asbestos and  has boxy air conditioning units plugged into the windows like a cheap hotel. There is an antiquated  horrid heating system that costs over $50,000 a year to run.  There was a reason that the current prime minister said no thank you, and tucked his family into a smaller residence at Rideau Hall, where the Governor-General lives.

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Can small housing do more to solve our housing crisis?

It’s just one question that will be asked at the Small Housing BC Summit, a full-day conference taking place this Saturday at Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.

And it’s also a springboard to what could be the more important question: Can we change the way we build homes such that small housing — which SHBC defines as 200-1500 square feet — be the driver of this conversation, rather than just a passenger?

In the current Vancouver context, perhaps there’s no better debate to be having.

Tickets are still available – register by Nov. 15.

In addition to panel discussions and small housing showcases, the Summit will feature two Small Housing Challenge case studies:

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A tweet from Chris and Melissa of Modacity, touring Australia:

When Perth’s new 60,000 capacity Optus Stadium opened earlier this year, the state government decided not to build *any* public parking (patrons are offered free transit).

Instead, they built the Matagarup Bridge: a spectacular $91.5M. walking/cycling crossing of the Swan River.



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A strategy for community and housing activists emerged from the fight over 105 Keefer: Choose a development that, though following proper process and may be allowable under the existing zoning, is out of touch with the sentiment in a changing community – in this case, Chinatown.

Fight like hell.  Make it a cause celebre.  Get media attention.  Change the terms of the debate.  Go to public meetings and contest the assumptions, ideally culminating in a decision, whether from council or an authorizing board, that rejects the current proposal and changes everything that follows.

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This is the first post from our newest contributor, #SaveChinatownYVR community and cultural advocate Melody Ma. Follow her on Twitter @MelodyMa.

The Save Our Skyline YVR advocacy group aiming to protect Vancouver’s public views and view cones issued a survey to Vancouver mayoral and council candidates to understand their positions on public views.

The future of Vancouver view cones and public views were a contentious issue during the PavCo Tower rezoning council vote this past July, and the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) Plan council vote earlier in February. The next Mayor and Council will be voting on upcoming NEFC rezonings for a Concord Pacific development, which includes buildings planned to protrude through the view cones. They can also decide to review and adjust the existing view cone policies, which was a frequently discussed topic during the debate on this topic throughout the year, as the last review was almost a decade ago.

All mayoral and council candidates were asked to participate in the survey. They were provided with all the resources and policy documents needed to answer the questions proposed. If candidates did not provide an answer, their positions based on their past voting records (if incumbent), or known public statements online or at public hearings, were included when applicable.

Any late candidate answers will be added to the website as it is received up until this Saturday’s close of polls at 8pm.

To view the candidates’ full answers to the questionnaire, click here.


The survey questions aimed to learn about candidates familiarity with and positions on tower development in light of the existing policies on public views.

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A two-year project to replace the exterior of the Cannacord Tower at the corner of Granville and Dunsmuir proceeds.  (More here in the Daily Hive.)

It’s not technically a curtain wall, but the project does entail the replacement of over 145,000 square feet of window panes – and a change of colour.  Which has always been a sensitive point in this city.

The building, originally named the Stock Exchange Tower when it was completed in 1981, was one of four in the Pacific Centre complex, and it was intended to be as black as its predecessors to the south: the Toronto Dominion and IBM Buildings.  (Changing Vancouver tells the story here.)

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Surely the most significant thing about VPL’s opening of the top two floors and roof on the Central branch is the fulfilment of the original vision for Library Square.

Moshe Safdie, the architect, always intended the roof decks to be publicly accessible.  But the financial contribution of the Province was dependent on the leasing of the upper floors, to remain separate from the rest of the institution.  That lease has ended, and now another design of Vancouver’s greatest landscape architect is finally part of the public realm.  Cornelia Oberlander has to her credit the landscaping of Canada Place, Robson Square and the Museum of Anthropology, among many others.  It’s only right that the VPL should join that list.

Though the main part of the garden will still be out of sight, literally a roof garden, the public seating spaces and plantings below combine with the architecture to provide a complete composition.

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