It was a mixed bag in Ottawa’s walking tour; students, architects, urban planners, professors, and industry specialists all gathered in the Sun Life Financial Centre’s atrium, sipping coffees in quiet anticipation of the tour. “I thought we’d be going outside,” someone chuckled, as we moved off towards the elevators.
It was not an earth shattering event, but meaningful beyond its mundane appearance to those in the know. As the group marshalled and moved off to its first destination, groups were moving simultaneously in New York and Toronto. The tours in Shanghai and London were already complete, and the whole process would wrap up in Vancouver.
The event was locally coordinated by Randolph Wang, a planner for the city of Ottawa, but organized in general by the CTBUH, the council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, in an attempt to collate the responses and form a technical guide to development around the world. “Winter spaces can improve the quality of life for those who live and work in urban centres. Parks and the like work well in the summer, but how about in the winter?” said Wang.
The focus for Ottawa’s tour was winter spaces; appropriately enough, as we stepped outside the snow came pouring down and Sparks Street, our first stop, had disappeared in a haze of white.
Among the 28 participants was Simon Lacoste, a 20-year-old co-op student from the University of Waterloo currently working at the City of Ottawa. “I heard from a co-worker it was happening, and it sounded kind of interesting,” said Lacoste.
There were a few more students at the tour, corralled by Benjamin Gianni, Associate Professor of architecture at Carleton University. Apart from the few students, the cast was largely professionals.
Leading one of the groups was David Scarlett, the Chief Architect of the NCC, who crooned on the design philosophy of the spaces we encountered.