Downtown Calgary is chock-full of midrise and highrise towers of varying styles, vintages, and aesthetic charm.
The Bow is one of those iconic structures that is just different from everything else around it. It’s taller, it’s oddly shaped, it catches light, it’s not a glass obelisk, and it has a cool sculpture at its base (Wonderland by Jaume Plensa). What more can a travelling geek with a camera ask for?
Ottawa is arguably a most unusual city. A former logging outpost, it was chosen to be the capital of Canada specifically because it was out of the way, hard to get to and as a result, difficult for those nasty Yankees to attack and conquer. Because they wouldn’t be able to find it.
As a result of Ottawa’s humble, out-of-the-way beginnings, it lacks the, um, pomp and grandiose nature of most of the Western world’s capital cities. But it’s not without its charms, such as the Victoria Memorial Museum Building which now houses the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The building, known as the Victoria Memorial Museum Building and often referred to as the “castle”, was built in former farm fields known as Appin Place, the estate of the Scottish-born merchant William Stewart. The neighbourhood became known as Stewarton and residential development started in the area during the 1870s. The government purchased the land in 1905 hoping to develop the site as a sort of ‘end piece’ to complement the stone structure of the Canadian Parliament Buildings at the opposite end of Metcalfe Street, on Parliament Hill.
It’s a great building, but the city has failed it in the 150-odd years since it was built. Lack of coherent urban planning and developers of cheap, ugly apartments running roughshod over City Hall and the planning department have ensured that this grand old place finds itself in the middle of a sea of architectural mediocrity.
There’s something about this building complex that keeps me coming back. It’s all about the mirrored glass and the light and reflections that play over them. I find it particularly compelling during the wintertime, when the sun is low and there’s more light bounce between the towers.