Every year since 2002, the city of Ottawa as well as a dedicated group of volunteers, organize Doors Open, an event that celebrates the city's building heritage, architecture and design. This year, on June 4th & 5th, several buildings, such as the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, the Shenkman Arts Centre and the Embassy of France, will open their door to visitors.
A full list of the participating buildings are included on the city's website. There's also a handy Google map to help plan the day. I doubt it would be possible to see them all in two days, but there are certainly a lot of interesting modern buildings on the list. Not to mention a Geocache event going on at the same time.
Photos : City of Ottawa | Informatics | Flickr | French Embassy
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.
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.
If it was up to me this is what I would do.
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.
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.
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.
I was walking along Cooper street yesterday and noticed this beautiful modern little store (Pat Flesher) that really stood out. Of course I had to take a picture to share with you.
The design is very understated but very effective, the signage is simple and to the point and the lighting emphasizes the beautiful texture of the stone wall veneer. Very classy!
Check out the "before" photo of the store from Google StreeView. It really needed a makeover. What an improvement! It's such a simple makeover but what a difference it makes.