Building up Sparks Street: A new condo joins Ottawa’s historical tourist attraction
Originally published by the Ottawa Citizen on November 18th, 2016 and written by Evelyn Cimesa.
They took it down, brick by brick. Mullion by mullion.
They carefully dismantled what remained of the historical façade at 106-116 Sparks Street and have placed it into storage, where a professional will be carefully restoring it. And now they’re finally starting construction.
They are Ashcroft Homes, Roderick Lahey Architecture Inc. (RLA Inc.), the National Capital Commission (NCC), and Cecconi Simone Inc. And they’re working together to design and build reRESIDENCES, a luxury condominium complex that will overlook Parliament Hill and beyond in Ottawa’s downtown.
Sparks Street is the commercial centre for the Ottawa valley, as well as the central location for government offices and parliament members. It’s home to some of the largest collections of on-tap and imported beer in the city, beautiful historical buildings and monuments, and it hosts some of Ottawa’s biggest festivals, including Poutinefest, Ribfest, and the International Busker Festival.
The condominiums are part of the NCC’s plan to revitalize Sparks Street. The idea is that, if people live on Sparks, businesses may operate to support them and the street itself will gain more pedestrian traffic. It’ll become more interesting and lively and will bring excitement to North America’s first permanent outdoor pedestrian mall.
“From the time we competed for this site, we saw it as an iconic piece of Canadian real estate,” says David Choo, CEO and Founder of Ashcroft Homes.
reRESIDENCES, designed by award-winning architectural firm Roderick Lahey Architecture Inc, will consist of two modern buildings: an 18-storey condo which faces Queen Street, and a 6-storey condo which faces Sparks Street. The Sparks location will incorporate the façade of one of the oldest buildings in the Sparks Street mall.
Originally, the builders tried to salvage the building and use what was already there, but portions of it were falling apart. The team carefully took down the building and are restoring what is salvageable and plan to incorporate it when erecting the new buildings.
“We have, very delicately, disassembled the building. Literally brick by brick, mullion by mullion. We’ve catalogued it; it’s in a warehouse. We hired a heritage restoration architect, recommended by Rod Lahey,” says Choo. “So, when the super structure is up, these windows and mullions are to be delicately restored and then brought back up to the site and then attached onto the finished building. And so, hopefully when it’s all finished, people will be able to appreciate the history that is being attached onto the building.”
The façade, originally built between 1870 and 1875, is being preserved and recreated and will be used to strengthen the continuity of the existing architecture. It will help make reRESIDENCES fit into its historical community and pay homage to the rich history of Sparks Street while still fitting in with Ottawa’s modern skyscrapers.
Dr. Mark Kristmanson, CEO of NCC, says that he is delighted to have this new pediment with excellent design and conception. He believes that it will be well received by all residents and visitors in the capital who visit Sparks Street.
The buildings will feature amenities such as a professional full-service spa, a fitness centre with state-of-the-art equipment, a theatre, a games room and lounge, a pet spa, a party room with a catering kitchen, a private wine cellar, and the SkyLounge, an exclusive club with a front row view of all of the excitement of Parliament Hill.