One of the best vantage points from which to fully appreciate the glory of Canada's Parliament is scheduled for a huge makeover, and four teams of architects, urban designers, and landscape architects have now been selected as finalists. The shortlisted groups were chosen in May 2017 after the National Capital Commission initiated a two-stage international design competition in January, seeking submissions to reinvigorate Nepean Point into a lively 21st century green space.
Nepean Point currently suffers from disconnection with the rest of the city. Nondescript and unmarked pathways currently provide access to the lookout, which is defined at its highest elevation by a statue of Samuel de Champlain, who sailed up the Ottawa River in 1613. The long-term vision for the area outlines a continuous promenade from the Rideau Canal to Rideau Falls Park along the river, with a system of multi-use pathways linking existing routes, green spaces, and cultural institutions.
Team Geuze — comprised of West 8, Ken Greenberg Consultants, Barry Padolsky Associates Inc. Architects, and Fotenn — have imagined 'Bluff Point.' Their concept reconnects Nepean Point to Major's Hill Park, a relationship currently broken by a high-traffic roadway, by installing a sweeping landbridge that culminates in an 'alcove' that traces the curve of the bluff and creates the ideal spot for skyline-viewing. The plan shines a spotlight on the Champlain lookout as a meeting place, while also looking to enhance the site's connection to adjacent landmarks the National Gallery of Canada and the Global Centre for Pluralism.
Team Asselin (WAA Montreal, Tectoo Architects, Milan Ingegneria) attempts to narrate the history of the site and transform the lookout into a dynamic meeting place. 'Nogoshkodadwin Park' takes its name from Anishinaabe for 'meeting place,' and imagines a dedicated observation deck, stage pavilion, and plenty of seating opportunities moulded by the topography of the landscape.
'Big River Landscape' by Team Rosenberg (Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Patkau Architects, Blackwell Structural Engineers, and ERA Architects) envisions an inclusive space that offers a range of disparate experiences. Meandering meadow paths build towards the Gathering Circle at the upper promontory, a specially paved riverwalk affords people-watching opportunities, and Whispering Point provides sunken seating nooks for contemplative and educational experiences. The plan also calls for the introduction of a stage and amphitheatre crafted in the shape of a birchbark canoe that reflects the river.
'Nepean Point — A Park for Our Nation in Progress' brings together PUBLIC WORK, KPMB Architects, Blackwell Structural Engineers, and John Beaucage would open a new gateway to the Point originating at the locks of the Rideau Canal, moving along the river and ascending to the lookout. It would carve away the soil to expose the limestone bedrock underneath, marking a literal and figurative 'clean start' for the site. Scraping the western half of the park creates a sculpted landform on the eastern half, and a green arc featuring a formal amphitheatre supports programming and performances.
Ottawans are invited to provide feedback about the entries via an online survey available until October 18. The winning team will be announced in November 2017 as part of Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations. The first phase of construction is slated to begin in 2019.