Nine years ago, half of the Somerset House was demolished, leaving a physical and metaphorical hole in the city. The Somerset House, is located at the corner of Bank and Somerset Streets, happens to be the heart of the Ottawa Centretown community. The heritage value of the building, has arguably saved it from demolition, but also made it difficult to develop.
The Somerset House has a strong tangible and intangible heritage value while its community represents a mosaic of people and architectural typologies. When designing for urban centres, it is important to recognize that: “Our downtowns provide space for public life….the downtown is a shared physical reality with the presumed shared right to use that space, irrespective of income.” Taking all these elements into account: How can the development of a historic building increase its heritage value, while simultaneously contributing to the enhancement of the community to which it belongs?