Friday, July 29, 2016

Sketching the Somerset House

On July 28, the Ottawa urban sketchers chose the historic Somerset House for our outing. (

Ottawa Urban Sketchers chose this location because the City of Ottawa recently approved to have Somerset House partially demolished.

This great building has, since 2007, suffered from what Heritage Ottawa calls "demolition by neglect".

The building was built in 1896 to House the Crosby Brothers Dry Good store. If you are interested in reading the entire history of the building (including the mystery behind the missing Turret) visit the link at urbsite by Robert Smythe here:

At this link you will also find a magnificent 1973 ink sketch of "The Ritz" (one of Somerset House's previous monikers) by well known Ottawa artist Arthur II.

Visit link above to urbsite article by Robert Smythe
There were lots of NEW faces to the Ottawa urban sketching group - we LOVE that! And plenty of wonderful familiar faces.

The evening light on Somerset House

The evening light was just starting to hit the western facade and the sketchers located themselves along Bank and started sketching.

5 sketchers sketching from the Second Cup location
 Bank and Somerset is an incredibly busy intersection in the evening! (All the more reason to be sad about this lovely building sitting empty since 2007) Because of the busyness of the pedestrian and vehicular traffic, sketchers looked for alcoves and walls to tuck into to sketch.

Three more sketchers in front of the former "Hartmans"

Sketch by artist/urban sketcher Trish Woolaver

My first sketch of the night.

Unfinished detail sketch by artist Laurie Foster

The sketchers moved over to Gabriel Pizza to share their sketches and talk about some future sketching venues. A great night was had by all!
My last sketch of the evening from Gabriel Pizza

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sketching Ottawa's "Streetside Spots"

On July 6, 2016 Ottawa urban sketchers met at the Percy Station parklet. Please take the time to read Project Percy Station: Filling a void in our community (by Raunaq Singh) to see why these spaces are so important to community.
Sketches of Percy Station by Colin White

Sketch of Percy Station by Trish Woolaver

On July 20th, Ottawa urban sketchers met at the Beechwood parklet that is called "The Water Garden".

 This parklet was designed by Carleton University students.
"When Carleton Architecture Prof. Johan Voordouw learned about the city’s plan to repurpose on-street parking spots into outdoor patios, parklets and vending stalls, he called up city councillors to see how he could get his students involved."
The "Water Garden" parklet at 43 Beechwood, Vanier was designed by fourth-year architecture students Tori Hamatani, Trevor Whitten, Mitchell Gray and Simon Petepiece (below).

Carleton University students with their design (Photo source: CBC)
Quoted from the CBC: 
The guidelines for the mini parks, called "parklets," were that they needed to be able to fit in a parking space, include live plants and be open to the public.

Because of the requirement to have live plants, these students had the roof inverted so that it could collect rainwater that will be stored in a cistern and used to water the plants!!

Sketchbook page by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

(P.S. The park cost $15,000 to build and will cost $5,000 for maintenance as the park will be torn down each fall and reconstructed each spring)

The "Water Garden" parklet gets beautiful light in the evening!
Sketch by Kristina Corres on twitter

A City of Ottawa Pilot Project 

The City of Ottawa calls this pilot project the "Streetside Spots Pilot Project". The idea originated in San Francisco in 2010.

The value of streetside spots is best stated by Jamie Kwong (Quartier Vanier BIA):

Source: Jamie Kwong's twitter

Eleven locations applied to take part in this pilot program, which runs from April to October.

Four Parklets – public spaces that will contain everything from seating and greenery to games tables and music:

  • The Water Garden at 49 Beechwood – A meeting point, a community gathering space or simply a shelter from the elements, The Water Garden will feature a central column and a canopy designed to channel rainwater to pots of plants, herbs and flowers. The Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Area submitted this design by students from the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University.
  • Percy Station at 605 Somerset Street West – Percy Station will offer rotating programming that includes a coffee house, micro shows, live music, poetry readings and theatre sessions. The design features a seating area that can be configured in a variety of ways. Strip lighting will help animate the structure’s form and illuminate it at night for safety.
  • The Nük on the north side of Second Avenue, east of Bank Street – Nük will feature a seating area and games table, creating a space for people to stay connected through community events. The design features a built-in table and an L-shaped bench that faces Bank Street. It will incorporate vegetation and soft ambient lighting. The Glebe Community Association submitted this design by students from the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University.
  • A parklet on the south side of Third Avenue, west of Bank Street – The neighbourhood, and in particular local merchants and restaurants, will welcome the added seating and greenery this space will offer for relaxing and socializing. Visitors will feel connected to the vibrancy of Bank Street, where narrower sidewalks make it impossible to accommodate patios. The Glebe Community Association submitted this project by a designer who is a resident in the community.
Seven patios – private spaces reserved for patrons of cafés or restaurants that do not have an existing patio:
  • The WORKS at 326 Richmond Road
  • The Ministry of Coffee at 1013 Wellington Street West
  • Corner Bar and Grill at 344 Richmond Road
  • Blue Cactus Bar and Grill at 2 Byward Street
  • The Cupcake Lounge at 6 Byward Street
  • Asian Alley at 8 Byward Street
  • Zak’s Diner at 14-16 Byward Street

Do You Like the Idea of Streetside Spots?

Tell the City of Ottawa what you think!

Complete this short questionnaire by August 20, 2016 for your input to be included in the evaluation.
For more information or comments, send a message to