In the News: A vision for LeBreton Flats designed by architecture students

By Maria Cook

June 18, 2024

CBC News and the Ottawa Business Journal have published articles about an urban development vision for LeBreton Flats, designed by fourth-year students at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism.

The master plan features an oval-shaped elevated bridge that forms a continuous loop across four districts: parks, housing, social, and aqueduct.
Lecture spaces in the Carleton University satellite campus double as performance theatres, concert halls, and movie theatres.

The students developed the project during the winter term in the Option Studio — 25:8 City_Urban Trialities, led by Instructor Jay Lim.


See the CBC article: Student architects throw LeBreton Flats expectations for a loop


Read the Ottawa Business Journal article: #LoopBreton? A new home for the Sens is just the start of the vision for these students

View of arena roof top. The arena is a versatile event space that transitions between sports, cultural events, and cinema, to food services that morph from catering to ghost kitchens, and a concourse that doubles as an indoor track.

LeBreton Flats is a 29-hectare site in downtown Ottawa, which the National Capital Commission (NCC) is charged with developing. Lim challenged his students to design a community and destination place, where buildings have multiple uses and are active for more hours of the day.


“Traditional planning allocates spaces based on their program and usage,” he wrote in the course outline. “The result is buildings and spaces that are left vacant 16 out of 24 hours. Is there a way to reuse existing infrastructure for multiple functions in both space and time? Are there synergies of incongruent typologies or programs that could make a city vibrant and active all the time?”


The “#LoopBreton” master plan sets out housing, and spaces for recreation, entertainment, retail, and commerce, with waterfront access and a parking garage.


“The work aims to connect the entire site with a giant pedestrian loop,” explains Lim. “The residents could get their 10K steps daily, while engaging in all aspects of their lives — rest, work, play. The #Loopbreton proposal treats the site as a tourism hub.”

Working in teams, the students designed:


  • a satellite Carleton University Campus that transforms into a hostel and entertainment hub

  • a hockey arena that transforms into a medical clinic and food venue

  • a hotel and casino that doubles as a seniors’ home

  • office and retail buildings that can be converted into short-stay apartments

  • a grocery store that converts into a roller rink

  • a high school that transforms into rental units at night

  • a large spokeless Ferris wheel that provides views of Parliament Hill and the Gatineau hills

  • dedicated space for Bluesfest

The high school has a multi-use atrium. Classrooms can be converted to housing units after school for an affordable housing solution.
The community centre offers a local gathering place, fitness centre, concert hall, and health clinic. The gym is linked to the adjacent school, granting students access.
The park includes a splash pad that becomes an ice rink in winter, an outdoor amphitheater, sports courts, a waterfront beach, and a Ferris wheel.
The aqueduct district has shops, restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, outdoor activities, and offices, alongside temporary and permanent living accommodations.

The students were: Aidan Sosa, Alyssa Pangilinan, Amy Lefebvre, Aram Payroveolia, Anna Emond, Ava Cannizzaro, Conor Nicell, Danielle Pallo, Dharshini Mahesh Babu, Fedaa Mahmoud, Jessica Villarasa, Max Godfrey, Morwarid Safa, Nadine Khatib, Vanessa Jackson. Yuriko Itasaka, and Shayan Haghighi.


“Collaborating as a cohesive unit of 17 students was a first for us and fostered an environment of shared ideas and theories regarding the future of LeBreton Flats in Ottawa,” said student Conor Nicell.


“This experience not only broadened my understanding of architectural possibilities but also highlighted the investigative and imaginative efforts required to envision the future of architecture locally and globally.”


The students’ final deliverables included a documentary and flythrough, and publication.

Left to right: Jay Lim, Conor Nicell, Tobi Nussbaum, Katie Paris, Hieu Ngen, Laura Mueller

“The studio documentary was done as a way to share the design experience with people outside the school,” said Lim. “Everyone is used to seeing a final building or product, but we wanted to share the challenges and the many iterations that the students went through to complete this epic project.”


The book launch and documentary screening, which took place on April 14 at a pub in City Centre, was attended by officials from NCC, including CEO Tobi Nussbaum.


Nussbaum praised the “accomplished” presentation of the project and “creative ideas” for daytime versus nighttime uses. He said that he would love to see a Ferris wheel at LeBreton Flats. “I think that introduction of something destination-oriented was, was really good,” he said, adding, “You guys did a great job of minimizing the barrier between indoor and outdoor spaces.”

Also in attendance were leaders of the NCC’s Building LeBreton project: Director Katie Paris, Chief of Development Implementation Laura Mueller, and Chief of Real Estate Development Jean Philippe Lavallée, as well as Senior Planner Hieu Nguyen.


“I did like the concept of trying to find 24-hour uses, multiple uses within the same building, and sharing resources, which is important in planning,” said Nguyen.


Ariel Troster, city councillor for Somerset Ward, also attended. Representatives from Ottawa City Council, the city’s planning department, and the NCC, were involved in early discussions and midterm reviews.

Aerial view
“Sky-Arc” envisions a landmark for LeBreton Flats, aiming to transform Ottawa’s skyline with a 45-storey spokeless observation wheel.