16.5.11

FORMALLY KNOWN AS THE IMPERIAL THEATER

Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture
I think it's safe to say that the Barrymore's building, formerly known as the Imperial Theater, is in great need to TLC. Doesn't it look sad? Every time I walk in front of it on Bank Street, I can't help but think "I wish I could help fix it. It has so much potential, it just need some TLC". The peeling paint, the dangling wire, the bird poop, the boarded up windows, the broken or missing reliefs, the mismatch signage and facing,etc. All of that can be fixed before it's too late. It just needs a bit of tender loving care.

Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture
Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture

Below is how the building used to looked like back in 1938. Notice the two large windows on either side of the giant signage. Now they've been boarded up like an abandoned building. It looks like the middle window was replaced and the large vertical signage was removed, leaving a large gaping hole above the Barrymore's signage, for pigeons to nest in perhaps? I don't think it needs to look the way it did back in the days, but even for a modernist like me, I think it would be nice to restore some parts and modernize other parts in a way that will respect its history,after a good clean of course.

Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture

If it was up to me this is what I would do.
Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture

Wouldn't it be nice if this building was restored to it's former glory in a modern fashion? I had a chance to visit New Orleans earlier this year and was amazed to see how their older buildings were preserved and restored (especially considering Hurricane Katrina). One particular building that I think would be a great benchmark for Barrymore's building is this beautiful police station in the French Quarter with black framed windows.
Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture

There was also this dramatic and impressive a hotel called "Le Pavillon". It's a big white building with a lot of architectural details, but the fact that it's all white makes it modern and really showcase the relief of the building. Doing something similar to Barrymore's building would emphasize the neat sculptures left on the building. I also really like the way they designed the signage.
Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture
Barrymore's Ottawa Bank Street Modern Ottawa architecture

A portion of the building is currently for lease. This is a great opportunity for a major and relatively affordable fashion retailer such as H&M, Guess, Parasuco or Mango to move in this developing area, but it's just not attractive enough for these retailers. At least not yet. It's too bad because their customers have already moved in the neighborhood in new condos such as Mondrian, Hudson Park, the Pinnacle. And more will move in soon considering other condo projects such as Central, Gotham, Soho. Another great idea (if it's still profitable nowadays), would be a movie theater that would hopefully feature films well into the night. Only time will tell. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

5 comments:

  1. From living in the city for a little bit now it seems that there is a real problem where older buildings, especially ones used for retail and restaurants, are allowed to go to shit. Properly maintained buildings are more the exception rather than the rule here.

    I wonder what it would take for the Owners of the imperial theater to do even some of the improvements you mention.

    With the new residential developments listed, hopefully we will start to see greater energy put into cleaning up and maintaining these buildings. I think we all want a better looking city.

    Oh and a H&M in Ottawa would be awesome.

    H&M Y U NO OTTAWA?

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  2. Ugh. Inside, it's still a great live music venue (last time I was there anyway.. granted, it's been a few years.) I wish someone had the vision (and money) to revamp the exterior and make it the world-class music hall it could and should be.

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  3. I think the owners should throw a few fundraising parties, if they can't scratch up the money themselves to give it the well-deserved restoration it needs. I'm sure they'd find a more than willing public! If ye ask, ye shall receive... do you hear me, Barrymore owners?

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  4. Thanks for your comments :) I agree, this could become a landmark in the city. I hope the owner or someone close to him/her will see this and make something positive change. I also hope that more citizens in the area will start demanding nicer things/buildings in their neighbourhoods and participate in taking care of it. We can all benefit from this.

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  5. It's true. Every time I walk by this building it is such a bummer to see so much potential wasted. really though? reface with stone? it takes so long for brick to look that good, it just needs a little cleaning...and no symmetry -it's too static for a lively music hall. How about asymmetrical balance?

    Also, the owners will never see this blog post because it is so far out of their universe/ interests: they want money, not design, heritage, or accolades. They don't care if the city looks good, it's their patrons barfing all over Gilmour and Mclaren 4 nights a week. We need to speak with them directly, and if that doesn't work, then there's always petitions and campaigning to the city to help us with this urban eyesore that could be an urban delight.

    Fun Blog btw :)

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