I have a terribly ambivalent relationship with Ottawa. On the one hand, I enjoy the historical and political significance of everything around me - but, on the other, large parts of town are lifeless and dull to the point of depressing. The National Capital Commission, an appointed and unaccountable crown corporation, is responsible for most of this. It's their influence that replaced so many lovely and interesting historical buildings
with concrete eyesores
. It's their fault, with their long-preferred Stalinist Modern style, that the view out my window onto the two federal office towers across the alley looks maddeningly like that outside the apartment of Sam Lowry
. It's completely
their fault that all rail lines through the city were brilliantly rerouted to the suburbs...in time for a resurgence of interest in light rail mass transit.
Thus, NCC Watch
- which has been around for some time now, but whose site I only recently discovered, is utterly essential. The biggest blunders
page, which elaborately explains some of the architectural features of this town that make my neck twitch, is a worthwhile read even for those unfamiliar with Ottawa. It's a catalogue of horrors, showing just what happens when a pack of bored bureaucrats is given the chance to play SimCity with a national capital. It's probably a good thing they don't have access to the "Disasters" menu...