It was actually two weekends ago now that Doors Open Ottawa 2011 happened (June 4-5). Although it doesn’t quite fit in with the usual library related things I post, it was too cool of an experience not to blog about it.
A quick list of first half of the places I visited (in alphabetical order):
- Billings Bridge Artifact Collection
- Blackburn Building
- Bytown Museum & Rideau Canal
- C.D. Howe
- Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
- Embassy of France
I somehow did all of this in one weekend. Took a day pass, a map, and a bit of planning, but it worked! Be warned: this post will be fairly image heavy. In visited order:
View Doors Open in a larger map
Billings Bridge Artifact Collection (Routhier Community Centre)
This was a neat little collection of various furnishings and other items that are part of the Billings Bridge collection (exhibited at times at Billings Bridge Estate. I admit that after seeing the LAC Preservation Centre, the storage facility itself was not particularly impressive, but they definitely thought it through (complete with raised floors, humdifier, temperature control, and flood detectors). Nevertheless, as they recently redid the museum to be less showing of what it was like in the old times to more interactive screens/videos, it was nice to have the opportunity to see some of Ottawa’s history.
The Blackburn Building is really just an apartment building, but the indoor courtyard done in the Art Deco style was neat.
Bytown Museum & Rideau Canal
Bytown Museum was very interesting as the tour guide gave us a quick history of Ottawa, focusing on how Ottawa started as Bytown, the building of the Canal, and then how it got renamed. In doing so, she also talked about why the Bytown Museum (which was a warehouse and guardhouse) is the only building in Ottawa in the Georgian style architecture (though not quite true to it). Apparently, the Rideau Canal took so long to build, by the time it was done, the Georgian period had passed. While there, I also happened to see one of the Rideau Canal gates open and close. Not something you see everyday!
This is actually restored building done in the Georgian style as the original was burnt down in 1978. It mostly has offices with some retail on the ground floor. This was another building that had balconies and walkways indoors (much like Blackburn), plus some neat lamp decorations.
C.D. Howe (green roof)
C.D. Howe is the Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) building with retail shops on the lower levels. The building itself, however, was not the point of visiting the building, but rather to see Ottawa’s first ever green roof. The initiative is great for not only having a nice place to lounge with greenery for wildlife, it also helps to reduce energy use and the heat in cities.
Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building was really neat. Of all the modern buildings I saw, I think I enjoyed this one the most. Other than the impressive dome, the metalwork you see around the foyer area is inspired by Islamic art created as a sort of screen where it is easy for those on the upper floor to see into the open space, but difficult for someone on the ground floor to see up to the balcony-like upper floor.
The courtyard was interesting too since originally it was supposed to have a fountain, but for whatever reason they could not put one in. So the architect found different ways to include water thematically. The courtyard floor is slanted so that water will collect in the center and drain away. The floor is even heated to accelerate the melting of snow during winter. The bushes are also shaped into a wave pattern so that when it snows, it becomes quite obvious.
Embassy of France
I hadn’t really planned on going to the Embassy of France, but I’m glad I did. It’s a modern building as you can see from the images. The tapestries were very impressive: very large, well made, and some are quite old. The wall sculpture decorations were very nice as well. I thought the mix of decor styles was quite interesting. My only problem with the experience was that I felt like part of a herd.
Originally, I was going to post all the places, but the post was getting way too long. Stay tuned for Part 2.