Photo Hunt: Machine(s)

Bear with me..

Yesterday, I was harping on about this monstrosity which is in the final stages of completion. It is a refurbishment of the Congress Centre/Westin Hotel complex in the downtown core. What isn’t conveyed in the second photo is the size of the building compared to the surrounding landscape. In fact, it looms over the road beneath it and the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How and why city council permitted this hideously grotesque building to be built at all is beyond me. I don’t “get” fad for “squashed can” architecture. I can SORT of see when you have the ability to see them at a reasonable distance, but not looming over you, dwarfing the viewer. Personally, I think this style of architecture looks like an explosion in a model airplane factory.

I feel claustrophobic in the vicinity of this thing. AND… prior to refurbishing the building the existing Congress Centre was underused, partly because parking is a real problem in the area. It stands beside a main commuter route which was often at a standstill at rush hour because tour buses loading and unloading had no adequate stopping area so they blocked the right-hand lane. From what I have been able to determine, this HUGE problem has not been addressed at all.

Historically, the area which is Colonel By Drive, south of Rideau and Wellington was the terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway line, at Ottawa’s Union Station (The station still stands, off limits to the general public and used only for government conferences…. once every few years) When they built the new Ottawa railway station further from the city centre, the disused tracks were removed, and the entire area backing onto Rideau Street was stripped of the Railway-related buildings, as well as the old main Post Office building. The old railway beds along the Rideau Canal were replaced with a driveway and parkland matching those along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway on the other side of the Canal. In the 1970s, the land was slated for development and the Rideau Centre was built. As was predicted by those who opposed the redesign of the area, traffic became a nightmare, with the routing of 18-wheelers through the downtown core all day long in a convoluted route. Every new development to the area, from the US Embassy on Sussex Drive to the demolishing of the Daly Building (a building of architectural importance — replaced by condominiums) to the Congress Centre refurbishment has made travelling through the downtown core difficult and unappealing.

So, basically, the city has a billion-dollar monstrosity which will probably be a barely-used white elephant which will continue to cause traffic problems and make the downtown core even less attractive and less human-friendly.

So… here is the “Machine” part of my posting.


The shell

The site back in the 1920s (red rectangle)


  1. zeusiswatching said,

    March 15, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    When we lived in the Washington DC area, we used to feel the same way about several of the buildings. Enormous, ugly things. If only something better stood in those places.

  2. March 13, 2011 at 6:54 am

    From my balcony, overlooking the Perth CBD, I can see eleven of those city-killers!

  3. magiceye said,

    March 12, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    a monster is being planned every day in mumbai

  4. March 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    It seems that a lot of “architecture” nowadays is this sort of crap. Around here you mostly see steel butler buildings with a facade that is supposed to make them look like they are not just a giant steel box. But at least they are honest about their boxiness behind the facade.

    Personally, I sort of like cranes though. I spent a very amusing afternoon one time about 30 years ago watching a mobile crane put itself together so it could be used to rescue a broken lowboy with a huge generator on it that came to grief on the frost heaves of the road they were travelling. Quite interesting.

    Nice photos, I particularly like the historical reference….

  5. azahar said,

    March 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Sevilla has a similar monster going up, though now that the scaffolding has been coming down I’m starting to hate it less. Not sure if you’ll be able to say the same…

    • mudhooks said,

      March 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      There really was no scaffolding with this one. The sort of honeycomb framing you see is actually the outer wall. Triangular glass sections fit into the frame. It will be a convex wall of glass. It IS an interesting idea but not slammed right down in an area which should not be overwhelmed.

  6. Jerry said,

    March 12, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I’ll have to check out the work done by that macine when I’m in Ottawa this summer. I know what you mean about traffic – generally I’ll only walk in that area.

    Have a good weekend.

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