Friday, May 13, 2011

MCMC - Mid-Century Modern Condos

Do you love MCM design, but are looking for a condominium apartment to call home? Ottawa has a good selection of MCM buildings where your Eames chair will feel at home.

While some may find the plain exteriors of many MCM condos too severe, they usually have very spacious units inside - especially compare to the tiny condos built today. The simplicity of some of the plans may seem boring, but upon closer inspection, the well-proportioned rooms and abundance of natural light is quite appealing.

MCM condo apartments were built in the later half of the period, as the first ever high-rise condo building in Canada was built in 1967. The Horizon House is located in Ottawa, and was built by Minto in Parkwood Hills. There were buildings built earlier in the mid-century, but they are rental apartment buildings. This particular posting will focus only on condo buildings.

Horizon House - located at Meadowlands Drive and Chesterton Drive in Parkwood Hills.

Built in the mid 1970s, the Queen Elizabeth Towers at 500 and 530 Laurier Avenue West have a very imposing facade of concrete in the bruatlist style. At 500 Laurier some floors have balconies (see jutting out in the photo below), while others do not. The building behind, 530 Laurier, has inset balconies on the floors without jutting balconies.

One of the units without a balcony at 500 Laurier. The tradeoff is the wall-to-wall windows the entire width of the unit.

This is a unit at 530 Laurier showing the inset balcony.

20 Driveway in the Golden Triangle is unassuming from the outside, but inside the units are surprisingly large, and they have canal views.

 The almost 26 foot long living room has proportions unseen in most new condos today.

MCM condo kitchens were usually quite small and closed off from the rest of the unit.

Some of the MCM condo buildings were built with communal laundry facilities. While it is possible to install in-unit laundry hookups in some buildings, others are not equipt with infrastructure that can handle the additional water/drainage needed.

Also in the Golden Triangle is Ann Manor, which has some interesting units. The design of this building has expanses of windowless walls and a series of bump-outs. The arrangement allows many units to have views in 3 directions.

Luxury in the 300 Driveway. At only 4 units per floor, this building constructed by Teron, has very large units - and every one is a corner unit.

400 Laurier in Sandy Hill is even more exclusive as it only has 2 suites per floor. The 2 units have no adjoining walls, as they are separated by the elevator shafts, stairs and hallway.

The Highlands complex on St. Laurent Boulevard, near Montreal Road, is notable for its 2-story condo units.

The Chateau Royale complex on Prince of Wales near Meadowlands Drive, has 2 triangular buildings - which creates some interestingly shaped suites.

Ambleside Drive near Woodroffe Avenue and Richmond Road, has a cluster of MCM buildings. Some are rentals, while others are condos. Minto built 2 uniquely shaped towers in the 1970s.

Many of the units in the buildings have sunken living rooms as seen in these 3 plans.

Here is a very spacious condo plan with 3 bedrooms and a study.
Further west, in the building at 415 Greenview, there is an almost identical unit.


  1. Brilliant article. Thank you so much for such great insight into the architecture and buildings in Ottawa.


  2. It really neat to see how condo floor plans have changed over the years. I love working on and modernizing existing older condos. They often offer great design opportunities.


  3. Amazing idea of them! This article is one of my favorite. The architecture was proud of this. Thanks for this share.

  4. Wow, it's great that you've collected all of those floor plans! By any chance do you grant favours? I'm trying to determine if there's a 3-bedroom, south-facing unit in Queen Elizabeth Towers (500 or 530 Laurier) with a balcony. Rather than waiting for one to magically come up on, I thought I might as well as if you can help so I'm not waiting forever for something that doesn't even exist! Much appreciated!

    1. Thanks for the note!

      There are indeed 3 bedroom south-facing designs at 500 Laurier that have a balcony. The "Imperial Suite" plan #1 and #5 have a balconies on certain floors. From what I understand, the 3 bedroom units at 530 Laurier are all north facing. So, keep your eyes out for one of the Imperial plans with a balcony to come up for sale!

      Take care,