Over a month has passed since my meeting with the NECA HDC and I have yet to receive any feedback from the committee. (Having served on committees similar to the NECA HDC in the past, I am well aware of the challenges associated with relying upon volunteers to work at the pace of a professional organization.) Although I would have liked to move forward with the benefit of the committee’s insight, the value of doing so is outweighed by the costs of allowing the project to stall.
As mentioned in previous posts, the proposed project has received support in principal from neighbours on adjoining and adjacent properties, as well as the City of Ottawa’s Heritage Planning staff. Given that the feedback I have received from stakeholders other than the NECA HDC has been positive, I decided to submit a Heritage Permit Application for the project to the City of Ottawa in the absence of the NECA HDC’s input.
Some design decisions and revisions to the plans were made in the last two weeks in response to suggestions made by various stakeholders and members of the design team. I am very pleased with the evolution of the design to date and look forward to resolving the details if the proposal is approved. I believe that the proposed renovation and addition to the partially completed original structure will fulfill the original intention for the site, while improving the building’s compatibility with adjacent buildings and the heritage character of the neighbourhood overall. In addition, the building has the potential to demonstrate the possibility of renovating and retrofitting buildings within a heritage conservation district so as to make their performance comparable with what is achieved in new construction – without compromising the heritage character of the building or its neighbourhood. The proposed renovation and addition will demonstrate that ambitious green building certifications such as Passive House and LEED can be attained within a heritage conservation district.
The proposed project will improve the historic character of New Edinburgh by:
a) removing an existing roof form that is incongruent with the neighbourhood’s architectural typology;
b) adding a second story with flat roof and parapet typical of neighbourhood buildings, in keeping with the original architectural plans for the property;
c) limiting the height of the addition to the height indicated by the original building’s architectural plans;
d) limiting the gross floor area of the addition to less than 30% of the floor area of the original building’s architectural plans;
e) continuing the neighbourhood tradition of rear yard additions clad in a less noble material (such as wood siding);
f) subordinating the addition to the originally proposed building by setting the facade of the addition back from the existing building’s facade;
g) limiting the property’s vehicular access to an existing asphalt driveway off River Lane;
h) removing an existing garage door, asphalt driveway and asphalt parking space from the Dufferin Road streetscape that interrupts the established pattern of front doors (opening onto covered porches, descending to walkways leading to sidewalks) throughout the neighbourhood;
i) adding a front door, covered porch, walkway, street trees and ground cover to the Dufferin Road streetscape that echoes the established rhythm of the street;
j) retaining the existing mature cedar hedge that screens the existing rear yard (also to be retained) from River Lane and Dufferin Road; and,
k) strengthening the HCD Gateway by improving the balance between the subject 1 story building and the adjacent (award wining) 3 story building on the north side of Crichton Street.
The proposed project is an appropriate continuation of a small scale intensification effort begun in 1945. The completed project would contribute a complementary contemporary interpretation of New Edinburgh’s historic village character to today’s urban fabric.
The heritage permit application for the proposed project necessitated the preparation of a Cultural Heritage Impact Statement (CHIS). A CHIS is intended to provide an independent professional opinion and thus CHISs are to be prepared by a heritage professional, who is not the applicant. The author is required to be a member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals. In the case of this project the CHIS was prepared by Mark Brandt, a registered professional architect, urbanist and conservation consultant with over 30 years of experience in these fields. After reviewing the proposed project in great detail, Mr. Brant concluded that “it is clearly apparent that the proposed alterations to the existing building have significantly more positive impact than negative impact upon the spirit and letter of the New Edinburgh Heritage Conservation District.”
I was also pleased to read a copy of a letter concerning the proposed project from Heritage Ottawa. The President of the foremost heritage preservation advocacy group in the City wrote: “A curious and undoubtedly unique situation, indeed! Heritage Ottawa appreciates this innovative approach to enhancing the heritage qualities of a building, and respecting the Heritage Conservation District…”.
The Heritage Permit application will be considered by the City of Ottawa’s Built Heritage Subcommittee on April 10th.