Urban Design Review Panel Makes Recommendations re: Proposed Tower Development at 1649 Montreal Road

October 18, 2021

At its meeting of September 10, 2021 Ottawa's Urban Design Review Panel considered the tower development proposed for the corner of Montreal Road and Blair. The Panel's recommendations are copied below.

1649 Montreal Road

Formal Review | Zoning B­­y-law Amendment | Bertone Development Corporation; rla / architecture; Fotenn Planning + Design


  • The Panel thanked the proponent for the presentation noting the building's elegant architectural expression and well articulated and proportioned base.
  • The Panel is of the opinion that the architecture of the site, in isolation, is skillful and the preservation of the existing trees and the addition of commercial uses at grade are an asset to the neighbourhood. However, the Panel struggled to understand the rationale for the proposed density and height on this site given the surrounding context.


  • The Panel noted the project's aspirations are urban, however there are issues with the proposed built form, which is less urban, setting the development back from the street. The Panel is also concerned with the proposed height when the development is viewed within the surrounding suburban context, where there are no budlings of similar height in the neighbourhood.
  • The Panel noted that the parking lot south of Montreal Road has the potential for redevelopment, which could create a gateway into the neighbourhood. However, a more substantial planning rationale is needed to support the proposed tower form and height in this location.

Height and Massing

  • The Panel believes additional studies of built form approaches should be presented including those which better frame both streets. The panel also requested an analysis of the soft development sites in the area, in addition to the angular plane diagram, to understand the rationale behind the height increase.
  • The Panel does not support the proposed height at this location and believes the proponent should consider a mid-rise typology.

Public Realm and Site Circulation

  • The Panel supports Option 1 for the POPS. The efforts made by the proponent to address the grade changes, by proposing an amphitheatre and the generous amount of open space provided for the community's benefit, are commendable.
  • The Panel believes the drop-off area should be revisited. The proponent should consider internalizing the loading area and making the drop-off one-way to diminish the vehicular movement and create a more contiguous relationship between the indoor and outdoor amenity area.

Ottawa’s Urban Design Review Panel is an independent advisory panel of volunteer professionals who provide an objective peer review of both capital and private sector development projects throughout the City’s Design Priority Areas. The Panel is an important addition to the City’s formal design review process and is intended to enhance the City’s capabilities in achieving architectural and urban design excellence.

The RHPOA will continue to closely track the progress of this proposed tower development and keep residents informed.


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