Readers of my blog will know that 1970s is one of my favourite periods in architecture, and I love to highlight exactly why whenever possible.
During the 1970s Ottawa went through its first condominium building boom with a series concrete towers built across the city. These buildings are typically very straightforward in design, with few design frills, and almost seem utilitarian in style. Yet, upon closer inspection, many of these buildings have strikingly modern lines that create a rhythm of solids and voids, and it is common for the balconies to take on a sculptural quality. Most of these buildings have rectangular footprints, but some were built as squares or even in Y-formation.
Inside the units are typically rectangular in shape, but are notable for their size, especially the large living spaces - one of the advantages of concrete construction is that it allows for large spans without needing a support post. During this era condominium kitchens were typically small and closed off from the main living spaces, yet still allowed room for a small table and chairs. Bathrooms with simple and having a soaking tub and shower stall in an ensuite bathroom was rare - in some cases ensuite bathrooms just had a toilet and sink. Walk-in-closets were uncommon, but walk-through closets to the master ensuite were sometimes a part of the design. Bedrooms were almost always located together, down a separate hallway from the living spaces. This layout mimicked the bungalow designs of the time, perhaps as a way to make condominium living more attractive.
In comparison, many condominium tower units built today are much smaller. A typical 2 bedroom unit in the 1970s was 1,000 square feet or larger, whereas today 2 bedroom units can be as small as 600 square feet. Kitchens are now open to the main living spaces, so much so that in smaller units the kitchen may just be a counter along a wall in the main living space. In the 1970s a condominium bedroom always had a window, but today a "bedroom" may be located deep in the unit with sliding doors to allow natural light in to the room. Additionally, bedrooms may be split up and doors often open right off of living spaces. Today, bathrooms are typically more luxurious, but valuable living space may be sacrificed to make way for multiple bathrooms even in small units.
Below are the plans for The Barclay building at 370 Dominion Avenue in Westboro, built in 1975. The building exemplifies most of what I have just written about 1970s era condominium design, so it is a great example to share.
Of note are the long expanses of wall-to-wall windows and the exceptionally large balconies. The building was built to be luxurious for the time with large 2 and 3 bedroom units and with the inclusion of full ensuite bathrooms. An indoor pool, exercise room and sauna also indicate that this was designed as a luxurious building.
A special thank you to a reader who suggested that I do a posting on the building!
The two bedroom units are approximately 1,040 square feet and the three bedrooms are approximately 1,250 square feet.
Units 2 and 7
Units 4 and 5
Units 3 and 6
Units 1 and 8