Heritage Ottawa is disturbed that the condition of this building has gotten to this point. Since it is likely that demolition of the existing structure will be approved, Heritage Ottawa would like to express our support for the recommendations of the Built Heritage Sub-committee of 4 March. These are well-considered recommendations which should result in a better infill structure more respectful of the character of the Byward Market HCD than the glass curtain wall originally proposed by the National Capital Commission.
In particular, the proposal is not appropriate in terms of materials and fenestration. The Byward Market HCD is characterized by materials that primarily consist of brick and stone; and by doors and windows spaced into regular rhythms. A look along Clarence Street in either direction and within the Courtyard confirms that both historic structures and more recent infill buildings by the NCC and others generally respect a materiality and rhythm of fenestration that are characteristic of the HCD. The ongoing loss of masonry is cited in the Cultural Heritage Impact Statement as a negative impact on the HCD. Glass curtain walls are not traditional to the District. A glass curtain wall would have a negative impact upon the District, and would present itself as a blank hole in the fabric of the streetscape.
No persuasive argument for glass as opposed to stone has been given. Why not stone? An appropriate new structure that is of our time but in traditional materials can be achieved.
Leslie Maitland, M. Mus., CAHP
President, Heritage Ottawa