Designing Lansdowne Park

Published on May 24, 2009 1:23 AM by dbo.

The negotiations between the City of Ottawa and the Lansdowne Live! group have begun to create a design and economic plan for Lansdowne Park.  The design part will likely be more of a collaboration, with the developers asking the city for their requirements and trying to fit them into the park and budget.  The negotiations will likely come over the budget and financial requirements of the developers.  The developers will want some commercial space as public space doesn’t provide them a return on their investment; without it the city would be left with funding the whole project as pure public space.  There is also a list of requirements the plan must follow, such as accommodation of the farmer’s market and city approval of all tenants, design and form of buildings.

With a tight deadline, a reluctant council, a neighbourhood to please and a campaign against them the developers have their work cut out for them.  However, the developers have not insisted on any part of their plan except keeping the stadium/arena complex.  They believe they can incorporate a park structure around the stadium to fit the land into the neighbourhood.  A city committee focused on what it can and can’t do should be able to negotiate a design that meets the requirements of all concerned.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the current site plans and the new requirements and come up with a site plan that incorporates the outdoor stadium in a park environment.  Not being an Ottawa citizen, I first decided to familiarize myself with the city.  To first confirm that Lansdowne is the best place for the stadium I decided to look at the top five sites on the city’s stadium site list.  I have marked each of the top locations on the map below.  Not knowing the city, I did my best to locate each site accurately and believe I have at least located them in the correct general area.


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A. Carleton University (Tied 1st)

Universities and stadiums always seem to be a perfect fit in Canada.  They provide an additional partner and usage as well as a location that has the parking and mass transit options available.  In this case Carleton University is close to the existing Lansdowne site, is centrally located and close to the Rideau Canal.  It also appears to have some land that could fit a stadium, but available space may need to be reserved for future university expansion.  Negotiations would likely put a project completion date 5 years or more out.

B. Bayview Road / Tom Brown Arena (Tied 1st)

West of the LeBreton Flats (see next location), it has accessibility to good transportation links and the proposed route of the light rail and current O-Train as well as a location near the Ottawa River and close to downtown.  The site’s size is capable of containing a stadium as well as parking and some commercial development.  A great site, the only cons are the cost and time it would take to develop a new outdoor stadium and arena here.

C. LeBreton Flats (3rd)

What would be my number one spot, the Flats have a nice downtown location beside the Ottawa River.  The complaint against this site is the expectation that development of the site would take ten years, time that the city can’t afford with opportunities facing them now.

D. Carling Avenue and Preston Street (4th)

This site, north of the man-made Dow’s Lake off the Rideau Canal, appears to require a stadium be crammed into existing green space with no surrounding buffer zone.  There is more space farther south across the Rideau Canal from Carleton University which may be more appropriately sized.

E. Plouffe Park/City Centre (5th)

This site appears to be barely large enough for for a small community arena, and definitely could not fit an outdoor stadium and provide the public transportation and parking that is desired.  How this made fifth place I am not sure.  These small urban parks should be left alone to provide an green oasis amid the concrete and asphalt of the city.

The top five other sites only has two real contenders in my mind. Bayview Road and LeBreton Flats provide adequate space and transportation options, but additional time to negotiate, plan and develop those locations make them non-starters unless the city is willing to wait 10 years and spend twice as much for an outdoor stadium.  Two other sites in the top five do not have adequate space to accommodate the stadium or the transportation and parking that are listed as failures of the Lansdowne site.  Choosing a site that is worse or no better off than the current site makes little sense.  This leaves the Lansdowne Park site as the best alternative for a quick and affordable outdoor stadium for Ottawa.  The opportunity now lies in designing the area to satisfy everyone in compromise.

Park Design

The park design will be controlled by a number of factors and goals:

  • the aquarium will not be located in the park
  • there is a desire to find a place for the Farmer’s Market, perhaps the Aberdeen Pavilion, which must be incorporated into the design and sight lines from the street to the building improved
  • a substantial portion of existing paved space must be designed as open public green spaces
  • pedestrian and bicycle access to the Rideau Canal must be improved
  • no housing units
  • no large format commercial development
  • new commercial development on the site must support site use and neighbouring business districts
  • City has approval over tenants, design and form of any new buildings

Looking at the first artist renderings of the park design on Lansdowne Live! we can see that a substantial amount of new green space is added.  There may need to be tweaks to the types of features the city wants, such as the reflecting pool, koi pond, band shell and amphitheater, and the location of the fields and parking, but overall there shouldn’t be too much difficulty in this area.  The aquarium and the Aberdeen Pavilion are also not big sticking points as the aquarium was always a separate privately funded project.  The Aberdeen Pavilion receives great visibility from Bank Street like today with a tree-lined pedestrian path and could also be more visible from Holmwood Avenue with the reduction of the retail village.  The residential plans along Holmwood due to the no housing requirement could be replaced with a pedestrian/bicycle path.

The hard part of the design comes from working some commercial space into the park.  The first renderings included a hotel, retail village and restaurants.  The hotel may fall under the ban of large format commercial development; it is not clear.  The retail village may also need to be tweaked as a number of small row shops rather than a large indoor retail village that included a movie theatre.  The restaurants may need to be relocated to the north-west corner, which seems the likely place for commercial development.  Any larger buildings allowed may be considered for green roofs for the ecological and fitting in with the park benefits.  With a few tweaks the existing drawings can be a good start towards the final plan.

Stadium Design

The refurbished stadium and arena will be the focus of the site.  Improving the look of the stadium will go a long way to making the site appear more park-like.  Otherwise it will look like a industrial stadium next to the new green space.  The main issue with the current stadium’s aged look is with the stadium cover and concrete stands.  The Lansdowne Live! drawings of the stadium seem to have some good ideas as how to fix the existing stadium.  As drawings, however, they may not prove accurate once the construction is completed unless certain requirements are pointed out as necessary.

  • Changing the stadium cover to a light colour and curved really helps modernize the look of the building.  I think this is a must for the new stadium to eliminate the boxy look of the existing stands.  I would consider a convex curve rather than a concave one to provide more protection for your prime seats although the concave curve provides an oval feel for the stadium.
  • To replace the demolished lower south-side stands, new stands with a large row of private suites have been added at the concourse and field levels (or these are just concourses — it is hard to tell).  This is an excellent idea and perfect opportunity to add suites to a building forty years old.
  • Additional lower-section seats and towers have been added to the ends of the south-side stands, which improves the aesthetics of these stands by hiding the inner supports of the stands, taking away the industrial, boxy look.  The towers will have cover and appear to be for hospitality, a definite must for improving fan comfort and atmosphere.
  • Small end-zone seating has been added, which provides a more closed feel for the field.  The curved design of the stands is another nice touch.  If possible, I would consider increasing the size of the stands in one end-zone opposite the video scoreboard to help balance it out.  Also, if additional team office and training space is needed, underneath some end zone stands is a perfect place for it.
  • The end zones seating structures also help eliminate the ugly and out of place walls that extend from the stands across the end-zones.  These concrete, jagged structures contribute to the disjointed, industrial feel of the stadium.  The new plans provide some fill in the ends of the stadium, producing a more cozy feel.
  • Not visible in the drawings, but new individual seats for the whole stadium would also provide a major visual as well as comfort improvement.  I believe this is likely as the stadium capacity is estimated at 25,000, which is around it’s current capacity without the rebuilt lower south-side stands.  Switching to individual bucket seats may result in the loss of a few seats per row.
  • Improved inner concourse and concession areas are a must.  To achieve what a new stadium would bring, the stadium concession areas must be made bright, spacey and comfortable for fans.
  • A freshen up of all the existing structure concrete and other materials, whether cleaned or painted, will with the other changes make the stadium appear new again.
  • Temporary expansion for one time events, such as Grey Cups, should also be considered in the design.  This may mean making the end-zone seating movable, which would affect the point above.  Ideally, push the permanent seating capacity as close to 30,000 as you can so 20,000 temporary seats can put you close to 50,000 for a Grey Cup.

This covers the look of the site and stadium and its features.  I do not believe that any of this will be real sticking points in the negotiations.  The issue will come down to, once the design and features are decided, is who will pay for it.  To that I can only say that working with the existing stadium and arena will be both cost effective and an integral part of a greener park.  While I do not expect the park to turn out exactly like the drawings, if these points are kept in mind I am confident that the park and stadium will be a very worthy desination for the citizens of Ottawa.

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Designing Lansdowne Park was published on May 24, 2009 1:23 AM by dbo.

2,021 words.

This article is categorized under Stadiums and tagged with lansdowne-park and ottawa.