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Charlesfort and the Glebe

Photo of Doug Casey

Photo: Giovanni
Doug Casey of Charlesfort Developments.

One of the people helping to make the Glebe the enviable place that it is, is Doug Casey, resident of the Glebe and a developer. Developers, the people who create much of our environment, are, more often than not, thought of as people who are in it for the money, but Casey and his firm, Charlesfort Developments, are somewhat different. One gets an inkling of his direction when you discover that his company is actually named after the artist and former director of the National Gallery, Charles Comfort-hence, Charlesfort. Casey's work is subtle and often derives its forms, materials and design elements from the adjacent built environment. Much of his work also derives from that of the Edwardian era of 1900 to 1920. So his architecture could be given many names: Modern Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco, Post Modern, and so on.

It is, in consequence, not cheap work, and the accommodation produced -mostly residential, can be expensive as a result. Much of the work is in the nature of infill housing, thereby increasing our population density, a concept which bothers some people who mutter "not in my backyard" and say that it will increase car traffic.

The latter supposition is a fallacy, since by concentrating more people in the centre of the city, we actually reduce the overall amount of car traffic and encourage the use of mass rapid transit.

Jefferson Hall, award winning developement on Glebe Avenue.

St. Matthew's Church and Jefferson Hall seen from Bank Street.

Casey's projects around the Glebe are many and varied-only a part of his overall work which can be found from New Edinburgh to Ottawa South. One of his more sensitive and successful Glebe projects is the Jefferson Hall site, adjacent to St. Matthew's Church. The stonework from the old church hall was reused in this project. Much of the architectural form derives from that of the church itself. It is an improvement on what was there-a parking lot. (Thanks to our car-oriented zoning bylaws, we are overloaded with ugly parking lots in the central area.) So one only wishes that Casey could acquire the site on Bank Street to the east and redevelop it sensitively. Like many other similar sites, it is a hangover from the 1950s when big box stores and gas stations sprouted up along main streets all over the city, destroying the urban environment as effectively as the Nazi bombers did in Europe ten years before. 'Plus ça change....'

Awards

This year Doug Casey has won the City of Ottawa's Heritage Infill award for three Charlesfort projects: a group of townhouses around the former Crichton Street public school, The Glassworks condo development on Main Street, and the Wyndham Hall apartments beside the residence of the Governor General.

Casey was chosen as developer of the year by Building Magazine in 2002 and as builder of the year by the Ontario New Home Warranty Program in 2000. Other awards have been for Jefferson Hall (1996-97), Centrepointe Chambers (1993-94), The Market Lofts at 215 St. Patrick Street (1990), 70 First Avenue (1989), 9-51 Castlethorpe Drive (1987-88), 204A-226 Patterson Avenue (1986-87), 241-251 Echo Drive (1984-85) and 57 First Avenue (1983-84).

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