September 14, 2007
Ottawa councillors propose design competition for Lansdowne Park revitalization
Ottawa city councillors are proposing an international design competition, the first step toward revitalizing a prime chunk of real estate that houses an often-vacant football stadium.
Peter Hume and Clive Doucet are visualizing a redevelopment of Lansdowne Park that would “in its own way, rival such important civic gathering places as Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, the Halifax Public Gardens, and the Sydney Opera House,” they say in a report to be presented to city council.
The fledgling proposal drew immediate accolades from Mayor Larry O’Brien, who made revitalization of the park one of his campaign promises during last year’s mayoral race.
He wants Ottawa to be “a city with swagger.” A revitalization of Lansdowne might help with that.
The park, nestled in a curve on the Rideau Canal just a 10-minute drive south of Parliament Hill, sits empty most of the time. The park’s Frank Clair Stadium has housed a succession of Canadian Football League clubs — but there is no football club any more. The Civic Centre is home to the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey League. The Aberdeen Pavillion is used occasionally for special events that don’t require spectator seating. And more than half the total site is a large, empty parking lot.
The report suggests that all these major buildings be retained and improved. It also suggests that some of the outdoor space be developed for festivals, that the park be integrated with the green space along the adjacent canal, and that the whole redevelopment should fit in with the heritage character of the site.
A couple of weeks ago, an inspection of the football stadium revealed stress cracks in the concrete in part of the stands along the south side of the football field. The stands have been closed to the public while a fuller report — including a solution to the problem — is produced.
The Doucet/Hume report says the problem provides a unique opportunity to review the park’s current role, and revitalize it so it can “become the kind of public space that it deserves to be.”
It suggests simply repairing the stands and then carrying on as usual is not an option since at present, Lansdowne is underused and unattractive, with “acres of sterile asphalt and little green space.”
The proposed competition would invite pre-qualified groups of architects, landscape architects, engineers and builders to presented ideas and costs for public consideration, and, ultimately, for judging by a jury.
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