2.11.11

NCC'S INFO CENTRE CLOSES ITS DOORS

Modern Ottawa NCC info Centre closed CBC News recently announced that NCC decided to close it's only tourist information centre because it would have been to expensive to update. Instead, they are going to abandon the building they already own, hire information officers with purchased electronic tablets to stand at various notable landmarks (good luck finding them when you're new to the city) and open a small kiosk inside the World Exchange Plaza that caters to office workers during the day and is usually deserted on the weekend. 

I'm not particularly fond of the building's architecture, but at least it was in the best possible  location : right in front of Parliament Hill, Ottawa's main tourist attraction!  And it was actually useful! According to the article the staff helps 325,000 people per year. This was actually a good thing for the city! Instead of scaling down the $5 million dollar reno or raising money to help with the renovation cost to keep it at it's prime location, the NCC has decided to move it further away from Parliament Hill in a little mall, making it harder for newcomers to find it. That should work right?  

Meanwhile in the city of London (UK), the old tourist information centre was replaced a couple years ago by an architectural gem that has since become a landmark in the city. The building is located on a main tourist route in London, so it's easy for tourists to find it.

Modern Ottawa London information center St-Paul Modern Ottawa London information center St-Paul Modern Ottawa London information center St-Paul
So although NCC says it wants to improve the city and help it evolve, the decisions they make seem to point the city in the opposite direction. I wonder what's going to happen to the the building now that it will be abandoned. My guess is that it will probably join the group of decaying NCC owned buildings on Sparks Street. 


Photos :  NCC Watch | e-architect

5 comments:

  1. I agree that the closure is a sad thing, however one point that seems to come up in every article on this issue is that having info officers/small booth in the World Exchange Plaza is silly. Actually, the highway signs pointing the direction to the infocentre bring people to park at the World Exchange Plaza as it's the closest parking lot to the location - so tourists already will be coming there by car anyways. It's a shame that the four levels of government couldn't have worked out a better deal to keep the heritage building going.

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  2. The NCC does not own the buidling at 90 Wellington. It is leased from Public Works.

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  3. No doubt about it, this is a sad, silly, short-sighted decision. This is Ottawa, people. This is Ottawa, Government. This is the Nation's Capital. As a tourist in other countries, I rely on intuition, signage, and maps to bring me to where I want to go and give me opportunities to find out more information about a new city. The NCC InfoCentre location is a perfect location to inform people of what else to see in our city. Strategically and intuitively, it is placed across from the Parliament buildings (first on everyone's priority list), it's sign stands out on the street as an "info centre", and it has the capacity to provide more information on other notable Ottawa/Gatineau/Ouataouis locations to see. The InfoCentre also has a 3-D map locating these landmark areas and a small theatre that can play informative movies about Ottawa and our country to tourists. Smarten up and put on your glasses. We need a legitimate long-term vision for a tourist information centre in our Capital city, not some hokey booth setup in a busy circulation lobby. Is that how we want to greet our visitors? Welcome them into a true home, where they can feel welcomed and gain more information in a calm environment. Reinstate a location that actually has visibility, whose location is intuitive and not out of the way. Our public image relies upon it.

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  4. I'm torn on this. On one hand I'd want the NCC to stay in this building since it's accessible and I don't know what kind of tenant would be appropriate for such an important space. Yet I'm happy the NCC will be less visible in the city.

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  5. That is one cool Info Building in London! What great architecture! Hopefully the new Info Centre in Ottawa is well signed...

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