"As land values rise, I think it's going to become more common," DevMcGill CEO Stephane Côté tells us, describing the ambitious mixed-use programming of Ottawa's Arthaus Residences at Arts Court. While Ottawa is far from the biggest city in Canada—let alone the continent—the project is the first of its kind in North America. "It's the first condominium in North America to include both a hotel and and art gallery," Côté notes, and it's a project that aims to foster a diverse community hub while contributing round-the-clock vibrancy to its surroundings.
Located just south of the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market neighbourhood in Ottawa's Downtown, the Waller Street project brings an addition to the adjoining Ottawa Art Gallery, providing a much-expanded 43,000 ft² home for the marquee Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. Additionally, the complex features a new theatre space for the nearby University of Ottawa, as well as a boutique Le Germain hotel, and a new public space.
Alongside the diverse cluster of programming at the lower levels, the 23-storey tower's upper floors will be occupied by condominium residences. Designed by Régis Côté et Associés along with Barry Padolsky Associates Inc., and KPMB Architects, the project "is now several storeys above grade," Côte notes, with work on the residential levels—which begin on the 15th floor—set to begin in late November.
Given the unorthodox—and arguably pioneering—nature of the building, what kind of lessons came with developing the project, and how can its principles be applied in Toronto? For Côté the process was admittedly complex. "With multiple parties, it's complicated to co-ordinate everything," he explains. "It's almost like a PPP, with the art gallery and university space overseen by the City of Ottawa, and the condominium and hotel developed by the private sector."
Creating a cohesive plan that satisfied all the associated parties wasn't a simple process, Côté admits. "The complexity of the design—particularly regarding the degree of shared space—required "a lot more consulting" than a typical condo project, the developer explains. The different business practices and priorities of the public and private sector meant that the process had to be excpetionally methodical and careful. Nonetheless, the partnership meant a new space for the otherwise cash-strapped museum, while allowing private development to take advantage of the unique site.
In the end, Côté stresses that the marquee project's added complications will be well worth the benefits. "It's so much more than just a condo," he explains. "Having a museum and a hotel means that there will be much more diversity and activity at ground level," Côté continues, arguing that the project will contribute to a dynamic public realm and an enhanced sense of place. "With urban land becoming more scarce and expensive in Canadian cities, I also think that this mix of uses is going to become more common," he adds, "which is beneficial for the urban realm."
Arthaus targets a 2017 completion, with the first residents set to move in next September. We will keep you updated as the project continues to develop, and the tower reaches higher into the sky. In the meantime, additional information is available via our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts about the development? In particular, how does the project relate to the context of Toronto's development? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join the conversation in our associated Forum threads.