25.11.09

Ottawa's World Exchange Plaza, a hidden gem

Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa

The World Exchange Plaza is a hidden gem right in the heart of the commercial core of the city of Ottawa. It was designed by BBB Architects and built by PCL Constructors Eastern Inc. According to PCL's site, it was designed to house three cinemas with a total seating of 900, 40 retail boutiques, a 25,000-sf food court, and 10 retail kiosks in a department store-style open concept concourse. The design was chosen by the City of Ottawa in a National Capital Commission (NCC) competition (great choice!). The goal was to create a truly public and welcoming complex, while accommodating the demands for a first-class office building including a hotel and retail pedestrian shopping centre. "This active and holistic environment incorporates works of art, rooftop gardens, performance courts and botanical gardens and has 25% of its overall area dedicated to outdoor parkland and programmable public space."

Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa
I went to check it out today in more detail and I find that the plaza has a lot of great features. The ceiling is nice and high and the center of the plaza is completely open. The metal trim finish and railings gives it a modern Art Deco style. Above the circular stairs, the ceiling has a circular indentation as well and a skylight. The recessed light around it and the wall sconces on top of the pillars gives it a very beautiful and grand look.
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa
I also like the decorations that were added for Christmas, especially the chandeliers cascading in a spiral above the stairs. It's very glam. I wonder if the decorators were inspired by the 2009 Christmas Decoration trends. If so this would fit the Airy theme. In any case, I wish they would have added more to make it truly spectacular because it seems like this space deserves more. Perhaps something in the main area (like they did with dolphins in the first picture). Also, in the center of such a prominent focal point, an imposing attraction should take the place of the mini van.
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa

Imagine if it had a tree like this one:
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa

Or this one:
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa
From what I understand, this mall was supposed to have a lot more retail spaces, but this is not the place for any fashionistas! It looks like the food court has taken over the second floor and the first floor only has a couple shops (LCBC, Shoppers Drugmart. etc), nothing that would attract serious fashion shoppers which is really a shame because it seems like it's the perfect location for that. Can you imagine if there were lots of stores there? Mango, MEXX, Diesel, H&M, Browns, Guess, Parasuco, etc.? Perhaps the NCC could use the help of a professional n management company that specializes in attracting retail tenants such as those. The World Exchange Plaza could stand along side the likes of the Eaton Centers in Montreal and in Toronto! And there's a cinema! I think there's enough people living downtown, students and tourists to make the plaza more alive because in the weekend (at least the last time I checked) it's pretty much dead.
Ottawa World Exchange Plaza BBB Architects Modern Ottawa

photos : MOOT| chelsea.crank | jha442 | BBB |

9 comments:

  1. I've completely stopped going to the movies there. It was depressing to pay $10 to see a movie on a screen only slightly larger than my uncle's home theater set-up in his basement. World Exchange is definitely under utilized considering that it is it so close to Parliament. If I hadn't been there before to go to the movies I'm not sure I would have ever thought to go inside.

    Are there really rooftop gardens and botanical spaces?

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  2. The World Exchange is begging for some kind of use beyond the lunchtime crowd. If you go to the Starbucks across the street on Queen, you can see one of the whales that used to be hung from the ceiling which is piled up in a room that used to be used by the flower shop!

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  3. @ Betsy : I've been there too once a couple year ago while visiting. It was a saturday and the place was dead. It was so weird. As for the roof top, that was a plan at least, but I haven't seen it. I'll try to find out more.

    @ Ted : It's too bad the whales have been abandoned, what a waste. At least give it to a kindergarten or something. I'll have to check that out too :)

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  4. It might be a great location and a great space, but the theater is just awful (I've seen them play movies upside down and half off the screen)and I can't imagine anyone going there to do any serious shopping when the Rideau Centre is a few blocks away.

    But I do love the whales. Maybe they've just been put away to make room for the holiday decorations?

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  5. There used to be a coffee shop set up in the open space on the ground floor right outside the LCBO. It was extremely busy and it drew in a lot of people, but as I undrestand it they were made to shut down. Now the place is dead.

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  6. The comments about the theatre made me laugh - I LOVE the theatre there! It is small but that makes it more intimate (in my opinion), there's hardly ever any crowds so it's the best place to see a new release AND you get free underground parking (a dream in the winter!). That said, I should state that I'm not much of a movie buff ;)

    I used to work in that building - I really think it now caters to the corporate clients that have office space there. You can basically do everything you need without leaving the space - it has inhouse dental/medical/health services, dry cleaning, hair, drug store, etc etc. Really, you can just go to work and grab what you need on break (lame but true!) - hell, it even provides for all those secretary gifts or last minute things for a client. There's also a lot of events hosted by the building (including outdoor music events in the summer).

    It has free parking on evenings and weekends - making it a great place to park if you want to check out the downtown core and if you are willing to walk five minutes to the market. I think it's even free on holidays.

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  7. I remember going there when I was kid, loved seeing the whales. I do still enjoy the theater and the food court there. I wish they would put the whales back up though!

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  8. I would not go there any more as the underground parking sign said "Full Size Truck Van" was misleading that I parked my Full Size BMW 740IL and got a parking ticket. The sign is misleading - as it indicated to consumer 3 categories of vehicles can be parked there namely (1) Full Size (2) Truck (3) Vans - my BMW length is 201.7 inches whereas a full Size Dodge Ram Van is 187.2 inches in length - my BMW is 14.5 inchese longer than the full size van. If the private company is being strict to give ticket to misleading signage in the evening hours such as 1910 hr - they are not welcoming nor encouraging consumer to go to their mall. That's all we will not like to go to the city of Ottawa but to the City of Nepean where there is large parking lot outside of the shopping malls.

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