LONG TERM URBAN DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT MASTER PLAN
In the shadow of Parliament Hill and at the “Boiling Cauldron Falls” of the “Great River”; at the crossroads of three cultures and three periods of evolution, lies a unique and awesome site, an archipelago of islands with a rich and fertile past and an equally precipitous future. MTBA were retained by the National Capital Commission (NCC) to envision and plan the 30 to 50 year master plan for development of this 44-acre site. This comprehensive plan, which includes inventory and analysis, programming, development planning, heritage resources recommendations, and detailed concept demonstration plans & character area descriptions, remains today a key element of Capital planning for the NCC.
The redevelopment of the Islands Sector is an exceptional challenge in Canada’s Capital, given that it is at the confluence of the French (Québec), English (Ontario) and Aboriginal (Algonquin) founding cultures. Its significant and varied history includes its most recent incarnation as a post-industrial brownfield. The urban design development concept uses a palimpsest, or layering, of new uses woven into the old, with 29 preserved sites, structures and ruins being features of the new mixed-use development. Onto that pattern is transcribed a public access way called “The Walk of Waters” which brings visitors through the entire site and past several startlingly different water experiences from the high drama of the dammed falls to the placid contemplation of the calm canals with their pastoral green surroundings and paddling waterfowl.
This urban design Master Plan celebrates the evolution of both the site and the Nation, through the celebration of its cultural history over many centuries. It is a vibrant urban neighbourhood, unique from but adjacent to the central business districts of Ottawa – Gatineau. The design maintains a strong respect for the public realm, nature, and of the remarkable natural features it contains, through preservation and ecological development. A symbiotic balance of public and private; of nature and urbanity; of aboriginal and entrepreneurial spirits is created to honour its past and present through the building of its sustainable modern development patterns. These are much like the Island’s past development: an incremental assemblage of diverse elements where components are responsively planned within a loose framework, or “bricolage”. There is a rich variety of public spaces and street-oriented uses and activities that especially reinforce the pedestrian environment, while accommodating practical, limited vehicular and other modal access.
In 2010, MTBA revisited the Master Plan and analysed it’s sustainability level. Despite zero mandate for energy and water conservation or any other sustainability requirements, the strong urban design principles and respect & enhancement of previous site incarnations, together with its connectivity to the Capital core, the plan for this district scored “Gold” under LEED® ND. In fact, it has inspired a Heritage EcoDistrict approach to redevelopment and it’s influence carries on today in recent private sector plans for revitalizing a portion of the site.