Doors Open Ottawa (Part 2)

So, to continue from last time. Here is the other half of the places I visited (in alphabetical order):

For the full list and a map with the actual order I visited places in, see Part 1, the previous post.

Embassy of Hungary

I think the Hungarian Embassy was the highlight of the weekend for me. It’s a smallish place as far as embassies go (is my impression anyway), but it had a great atmosphere and look that I really liked.

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The house part of the building was restored to the original look including all the wood paneling and ironwork. It was elegantly decorated. The study had a cool map of Austria-Hungary (from 1867 I think it was). The dining area had a small table set up with photographs of traditional Hungarian dishes. Best part was when one of the other visitors asked if the beautiful china was used for formal or special occasions. The response from the staff, “No, no, he uses it everyday.” I went early (just before it opened) so I got some pictures without anyone in them.

First Church of Christ, Scientist

Honestly, I only stopped here because it was on my way to Blackburn after the Hungarian Embassy. There was really not much to see. I was hoping to see their organ, but it was behind a wall. Oh well.

Government Conference Centre

Government Conference Centre

The Conference Centre was really nice to see, because it’s the old train station essentially. There was a presenter talking about the history of the station and how it was modeled on the (now no longer existing) NYC Pennsylvania station. We got free popcorn too! (Sorry, no pictures from me. They didn’t turn out well.)

Library of Parliament (Parliament & Sparks St.)

So the Parliament library inside the Parliament you can see if you got on a Centre block tour. The Sparks St. one, however, I believe is not normally open to the public.

Library of ParliamentLibrary of Parliament

(Apologies for the quality of the pictures, but with the sun coming through the windows, it wasn’t easy.) The statue of Queen Victoria stands tall more or less in the center of the circular room with walls of books. At intervals, there are large wooden towers with the coat of arms of the 7 provinces that existed in 1876. It’s the only part of the original parliament that wasn’t burnt down, so it’s quite special.

Library of Parliament at Sparks

I spent little time at the Sparks St. Parliament Library, but I took a couple of pictures. It’s housed in the old Bank of Nova Scotia done in the Beaux-Arts style, so it has a nice open atmosphere to it. It’s quite grand in a modern way, and rather impressive, though I found the one in Parliament more interesting.

Maplelawn Garden & Keg Manor

Maplelawn

Maplelawn was really nice. How often do you see a (what used to be private) acre garden in the city? It actually had a lot of flowers that I don’t remember seeing elsewhere (at least not in bloom). It was great to just get “out” of the city for a little while, especially out of the downtown/core area. One of the volunteers even cut a few flowers and gave it out to the ladies.

Keg ManorKeg Manor Entrance Hall

The Keg Manor is the house next to the garden where the original family lived. It was originally owned by the Thomson family, but is now called the Keg Manor since it houses the Keg Restaurant. It was nice to see the inside since even if you were to dine there, you don’t exactly get to wander around.

National Capital Commission

The National Capital Commission (NCC) is housed in a restored building. Apparently, it was so old and unmaintained that it was pretty much falling apart and unlivable. However, they didn’t have enough money to get it restored, so they made a deal with the management company that the company would get a fixed number of years ownership and would get all profits during that time before it was given back to the city.

NCC buildingInside NCC

The paint colours and everything were restored to the original based on shaving down the layers, historical documents, etc. The style of the building is a really interesting mix including Japanese tea rooms (seen in the railing). The offices that lease that part of the building are really allowed to do more or less what they would like as long as they restore it to the original when they leave.

7 Rideau Gate

7 Rideau Gate

This is where they house foreign dignitaries and it’s pretty much right next to Rideau Hall. In a way, it’s just another house, except that it’s furnished with rather varied cultural decorations and styles. They also have their own chef! Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed on the inside.

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall is the Governor General’s house (and again you can’t take pictures inside, don’t know why). Heads of State and Royalty will stay here, so Queen Elizabeth II stayed in 2010 during her tour. The rooms were quite vast, obviously meant to hold large groups of people and for functions. The tent room was especially neat since it’s an indoor room but is made to looks like you are inside a colourful tent. The highlight of my visit though was seeing Glenn Gould’s piano.

St. Andrews Church

St Andrews ChurchSt Andrews Church Stainglass

This church was near C.D. Howe so I thought I’d take a few minutes to check it out. It turned out to have a really nice looking altar as well as some nice stainglass. (Excuse the poor quality shot of the stainglass, it’s hard without a SLR.)

Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts

Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts

This church is probably one of the nicest I’ve seen in Canada. It has a grand but not overwhelming sense of presence to it (it’s hard to explain). The organ was impressive especially with the stainglass behind it, which would have made a very nicely framed picture if I had a camera that could have captured it properly in the kind of lighting I was working with. What I liked most though was the triple altar with its nice paintings. Of course, I have yet to visit the Notre-Dame in downtown.

Studio of Canadian Landscape Artist Gordon Harrison

No pictures. I just stopped by here since it was on my way to the bus stop. It was interesting though not art that I would purchase regardless of the rather high prices. On the up side, they had a bit of free food and wine! (though I opted for perrier since it was the middle of the afternoon.) The cottage itself was really small, but cute. The garden was made for lounging.

Supreme Court of Canada

Supreme Court of CanadaSupreme Court of CanadaSupreme Court Foyer

The Supreme Court of Canada was a really interesting place to visit, especially with the speakers who were there to talk about how everything works. It was educational learning about what kind of cases would be heard and that each side only has one hour to make their case unlike in lower court proceedings. The Federal Court of Canada is in the same building, and thought I could have guessed, I didn’t know that criminal cases are tried at the federal level, but only federal crimes, such as treason and terrorism.

Phew~ Finally, that was my Doors Open Ottawa 2011 experience!

Doors Open Ottawa 2011 (Part 1)

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):

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)

Billings Bridge Estate chair and pianoBillings Family Photos

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.

Blackburn Building

Blackburn Building
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 and 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!

Carriageway

Dragon Lamp

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 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

Islamic Delegation building foyer
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.

Islamic Delegation Courtyard

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

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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.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Preservation Centre

So our group actually went on this tour back on May 18th, but I somewhat forgot to write about it.

I apologize for lack of pictures. We weren’t really allowed to take anything in with us, so the best I can do is describe it. Click on the image below though, they have a few pictures on their own site.

Library and Archives Canada Preservation Centre

The architecture is really interesting since it’s inspired by the Prairies. The towers look like oil rigs, and the various connected buildings in and outside look like barns or silos. The Centre itself is also separated into two sections. The inside vault is basically in a big cement block and then there’s a large hallway space with a glass building surrounding it. To give you perspective on the size, it’s two football fields big and could fit 2 boeing 747s if the vault wasn’t in it.

The inside has 4 floors of vault and then an open floor above for work areas. Each vault floor has numerous vaults separated into rectangular rooms much like most places that store materials. Humidity and temperature is different depending on the format of the material inside as to be expected. Audio/video is of course as challenge due to the shifts in format/technology. The paintings are pretty neat. There were a number of Laurier portraits, the Churchill one was nice, and copies of the original Proclamation of the Constitution Act. The original we’ve been told is in a top secret vault (no kidding).

Proclamation of the Constitution Act

The top floor is the “village” where they have little huts with all the equipment they need to do restoration, preservation, and format transfers. They’re considered huts since they can be reconfigured (I imagine they don’t do it all that often though). Particularly neat was the page remaking process where they remake and fill in what’s missing of each page from a book, and also the cover remaking/rebinding. We got to watch a short video on the comparison between before and after a film restoration which was pretty cool.

It was a very cool tour. It’s definitely worth going if you have time!