Locale Aldo shoe store Modern Ottawa Pompei A. D.
Last year, Blockbuster Video closed all its stores in Ottawa, leaving a lot empty retails spaces up for grabs. A couple weeks ago, Open File asked "What should replace Ottawa's Old Blockbusters?". If it was up to me,  I would arrange to bring in the LŌCALE store in the retail space located on Bank St. near Somerset. Not only would the store flourish in this location, but it would be a major contributor to massively improve the area. 

What is LŌCALE?
Lōcale is a footwear & accessories boutique-style concept store that celebrates art, fashion & community. This relatively new concept if the brain-child of Aldo Group, an internationally successful Canadian company that has been in business since 1972. They now own over 1160 stores all over the world. 
Locale Aldo shoe store Modern Ottawa Pompei A. D.

Why a shoe store?
We need one. There are no trendy shoe stores in this area of the city, despite the increasing number of potential clients in the area (i.e. office workers, condo and home owners and as well as renters). Think about the additional number of people that are now living in the area because of newly-built and soon-to-be-built condo buildings such as Mondrian, Hudson Park I & II, Central I, II & III, Gotham, etc. That's a lot of people!

Second, a shoe store is ideal because it suits the building and its location. It's very difficult and inconvenient to find parking in this area of town, so the majority of the customers would be pedestrians and people using public transportation. Consequently, a smart business move would be to sell something that can easily be carried by hand. Selling big items like mattresses for example, would be asking for trouble. Most likely, it wouldn't as profitable or viable because it's too much trouble for the customer. If you want to sell, you have to make it easy and enjoyable for clients to buy. That's why  shoes are ideal. It's easy and fun to stop by and shop for shoes during a lunch break or even before taking the bus back home outside the city. Who doesn't like a little shopping therapy from time to time?

Lastly, I would recommend a shoe store because everybody needs and wears shoes. So it wouldn't be hard sell, especially for women. And I can tell you, as a woman living in Ottawa, there is definitely a need for a stylish shoe store in this area. In other words, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime.

That being said, to be successful in this business, you need to know how to do it and you need to know what you're doing, which brings us the reason why I think Lōcale is the perfect match.

Locale Aldo shoe store Modern Ottawa Pompei A. D.

Lōcale is exactly what Centertown / Bank Street needs : A large brand with staying power that has style, a great variety of stylish products and the capability to involves the community. The concept of the store is to create an engaging cultural shopping experience by curating some great art from local artists. The image below of on of their Montreal locations is a perfect example of community involvement. In this case, local artists collaborated in creating a design for the store chalk board display.

The intention is that the new Lōcale stores are places that will inspire visitors to come and see what is happening, based on the activity, the creativity, and the multidimensional context of the experience within. The design statement says that brand collateral has been produced through partnerships with artists and galleries, allowing synergies between the art world and the brand. These partnerships allow Lōcale to leverage creativity in unique ways, and create cyclical messages that are fresh and introduce elements of contemporary art culture. How awesome is that?
Locale Aldo shoe store Modern Ottawa Pompei A. D.

Also, this would be a great way to jump start the beautification of Bank St and serve as a benchmark to many others stores in the area. Let's face it, most of the stores are not up to par when it comes to fashion ( a notable exception is Stroked Ego). The look of the store is a concept by Pompei A. D. who took care of all aspects of the Lōcale brand including the name, logo, brand aesthetic, packaging, website, signage and store design. They did an excellent job.

Locale Aldo shoe store Modern Ottawa Pompei A. D. 

There's a lot of ugly, barely hanging in there shops in that area. What's needed I think is a good anchor shop that is ideal for foot traffic and make this a more inviting place for people. Bank Street could be to  Ottawa what Ste-Catherine Street is to Montreal : a lively, fun and inspiring shopping street.



Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square
Let's take a look at the Aberdeen Square, which is located right beside the Aberdeen Pavilion. The design brief describes it as "a formal, paved plaza graced by the full north facade of the Aberdeen Pavilion. Its larger, contiguous space accommodates opportunities throughout the year, including the Farmers’ Market". 

Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square

What do you think of this location for the Farmers Market? I don't like it at all. There's nothing innovative or original about it at all. In fact, next to a newly built area, this will look cheap.  It's just a bunch of tents on a parking lot.

There's also an issue with the placement of the fountain. Unfortunately vendors typically tend to throw dirty water on the street in the Byward Market. I doubt it will be different in Lansdowne. What will most likely end up happening is that the fountain will get dirty or clogged. Then it won't be functional anymore and it will end up as a pit with random garbage in it. In the summer, you'll get a sea of random tents taking over the lot and in the winter it will be empty. 

Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square

Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square

There is a better solution. Why not build a permanent open air structure like the Convington Farmers Market in Virginia. It was designed and built by students and two teachers from the Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. Their budget was only $150,000.00 and they made it happen. The project was awarded a 2011 Design Excellence Award from the Virginia Society AIA. How awesome is this!
Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square Modern Ottawa The New Lansdowne Aberdeen square



Although the 3D flyby animation of the future Lansdowne was interesting, I didn't find it particularly informative. By the end of the video, I still had many unanswered questions: "How is this going to work?", "Is this the best use of space?", "What about traffic?", etc. So I did a bit of research and found a couple preliminary plans and documents with a bit more information.

Let's just say there's room for improvement. The design for the New Lansdowne may not be the most innovative or inspiring design I've seen, but  that doesn't mean it will be a total flop. It just needs some serious tweaking to become a gem in the city. So let's take a closer look at the proposed layout for the new Lansdowne.

Lansdowne Park is currently an eyesore. It hasn't been properly maintained over the years and it shows (even its website!). One major issue with the current site is that it's essentially a huge grey asphalt desert, sprinkled with a couple tired buildings, devoid of any sorts of greenery or beauty. In other words, it's depressing and ugly. 

To solve this problem, the designers created 17 areas, identified in the picture above. When we compared it to the current layout , we can see that some of the asphalt areas will be replaced with greenery and the rest with buildings. Keep in mind that the light green areas shown above are still going to be roads.

So if you highlight them in red, you get a better idea of what the place will look like below.

It looks like the designers are proposing stone covered streets for a large portion of the site : a really really bad idea in Ottawa. It might work in other cities but not in Ottawa because this type of road needs a lot of proper maintenance and from what I've seen from the city's history of road maintenance, this is just asking for trouble. It's not something that the city is currently capable of handling properly. Just look at Sparks Street. Remember my post from 2009? It still has not be repaired, almost three years later. And this is only a pedestrian Street. Imagine how much worst it would be for a road after a year of multiple cars, trucks and buses. It wouldn't take too long before it's patched up with ugly asphalt above the stone covered road just like on Sparks street. It's a waste of money.

So why not opt for something better? Something that requires little to no maintenance, that can handle heavy traffic, snow removal trucks and salt, and that can relatively easily and inexpensively be repaired or replaced? What can be done instead without resorting to the typical grey asphalt road? Colored asphalt? It's simple and it works! It's most likely less expensive than stone covered roads, easier to maintain and easier to repair. It could even be green to go with the theme. Can someone pass this one to the design team?



2012 Festival of Lights Ghent Belgium Luminaire De Cagna
There is no question that Sparks Street needs a major makeover and new life injected back into it. What better way to jump start its makeover with a spectacular annual outdoor light exhibit during the holidays and Winterlude? Who would not want to go see something like this? It would be an awesome tourist attraction and it would help the businesses on that street as well. 

2012 Festival of Lights Ghent Belgium Luminaire De Cagna
This beautiful light artwork was created by a local business called Luminaire de Cagna, one of the participants to the second edition of the Festival of Lights Ghent in Belgium. It's a free four-day show where various groups create an outdoor light exhibit for people to enjoy in the city. This particular project was made out of wood structures covered with 55,000 LED lights. And because it was made using LED lights, it only consumed 20 kWh of energy. So the electrical bill for something like this would not be exorbitant. In fact, it would probably pay for itself with the business such an event would bring in. 

2012 Festival of Lights Ghent Belgium Luminaire De Cagna
Wouldn't you love to see something like this every year in Ottawa? This is the type of project that we (citizens and local businesses) could do on our own. We don't need to wait for the city to organize this. All we need is a couple of creative and driven individuals. Wouldn't you love to be part of something like this?  I certainly would.

Big thanks to Charles for bringing this to my attention on facebook and his great idea on how this project would be very fitting on Spark Street. Check out photos of others exhibits on the Festival of Lights Ghent's website . 

Lichtfestival Gent 2012 from Lieven Vanoverbeke on Vimeo.

Photos : The Cool HunterFestival of Lights Ghent



In case you missed it, yesterday Open File posted a 3D flyover animation about the new design for  Lansdowne. First of all, it's MUCH better than what we have right now. There are some great design elements. I particularly like the terraces near the restaurants. Some parts remind me of the Byward Market, which is too bad because it would have been nice to see something different, more original. And it looks like the bicycles will have to share the road with cars near the stores. It would have been nice to have a dedicated bike lane instead. Who knows, maybe that could change last minute. Nevertheless, I think this it's what Lansdowne needs, despite what some naysayers may say. 

I see this as a lifestyle upgrade (as long as it's done right). The stadium would be awesome for open air concerts in the summer. Imagine Deadmau5, on a summer night with the stadium full of people and a cool light show. This would also be a great place for more events during Canada Day. Think of all the new possibilities. Now imagine if there was a metro that would bring you right in the middle of all this so you wouldn't have to use your car to get there ;) 

Let's hope this starts soon. This project is way overdue. 

Video : Untitled from OpenFile on Vimeo



Almaty Metro Kazakhstan Still on the topic of metros, today I found out that Almaty, also known as the "city of apples", in Kazakhstan is now home to the newest metro in the world. The Almaty Metro is a 8.5 km subway system (with plans to expand in the future).  The city's population is slightly over 1.4 millions. It took a little while for the metro to open its doors on December 1st, 2011. This was mostly due to the fall of USSR. It is currently used by 30,000 passengers each day.

The Almaty looks really nice and is wheelchair, bicycle and dog-friendly. The design of the stations in a a mix of modern and traditional. I really like the use of the blue. The uniforms are really cute too. For more photos head over to English Russia.

Almaty Metro Kazakhstan Almaty Metro Kazakhstan Almaty Metro Kazakhstan Almaty Metro Kazakhstan Almaty Metro Kazakhstan

Photos : English Russia


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