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Corktown Footbridge

06 Dec 2019
Image Credit: Adrian Searle
Architectural Credit: DTAH Architects Limited

Location: Ottawa
Date of Completion: 2007
Architect: DTAH Architects Limited
Nominated by: Joel Harden, MPP (Ottawa Centre)

“…one small step towards creating a more walkable city, less dominated by cars, smog, and noise.”

Ottawa Citizen, 3 December 2006

 “Delightful and functional in a magic setting. About time as well.” 

Ottawa Urban Design Awards


Bridging over the historic Rideau Canal, the Corktown Footbridge brings together structure, architecture and landscape to provide an elegant solution that proves pragmatic infrastructure can also be an opportunity to enhance a sense of place and establish new local landmarks.

Photo Credit: Site plan courtesy of DTAH Architects Limited. 

Bridging the Gap

With a span of 46 metres, this footbridge provided a much-needed connection between the downtown neighbourhood of Centretown to the west with the University of Ottawa and the Sandy Hill neighbourhood to the east. This link provides pedestrians, cyclists and rollerbladers a safer, shorter and more enjoyable crossing alternative to the car-heavy Laurier bridge more than 300 metres downstream. 

While relatively small in scale, the footbridge has had an impact far beyond its immediate sitepromoting economic well-being for Elgin Street’s thriving retail as a result of better access, opening up new possibilities for student housing, enhancing the overall connectivity of the Rideau Canal recreational pathway system and making a critical mass-transit connection by providing Centretown with a direct link to the new uOttawa LRT station (formerly the Campus Transitway Station). 

Photo Credit: Adrian Searle courtesy of DTAH Architects Limited. 

Sense of Place 

With its minimal contemporary design aesthetic and thoughtful material consideration, the bridge not only shows respect for its Rideau heritage context, but also further enhances its character and unique sense of place. 

While clearly modern, the bridge’s design shares a common design vocabulary with its predecessors along the canal—the bridge’s shallow arches respond to the tradition of arched crossings over the canal, while its stainless steel railings feature bent, bronze-plate handrails that respond to Ottawa’s architectural legacy of copper and bronze. 

Throughout its design, careful attention was paid to ensure the footbridge was light, open and elegant, allowing it to touch lightly on its context without overwhelming it. The bridge’s steel arches, for instance, are detailed to be deepest at the apex and taper down toward their base to emphasize lightness at the supports. The bridge deck, meanwhile, features a streamlined spine beam and folded stainless steel curbs with concealed LED lighting to provide crisp clean-lined edges to the concrete deck. 

Photo Credit: Adrian Searle courtesy of DTAH Architects Limited. 

A New Local Landmark 

Since its opening in 2006, use of the bridge has exceeded all expectations. It has quickly become a new local landmark and even established itself as the romantic heart of the city with hundreds of love locks attached to its railings. The bridge also provides a new vantage point for some of Ottawa’s most important landmarks as well as to the activities of the canal below, making it a favourite for tourists and locals alike looking for a moment of pause to enjoy the views.

This post forms part of our World Architecture Day Queen’s Park Picks 2019 series in which we asked Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament to nominate a prominent building, past or present, in their riding for a chance to learn more about it. Check out the rest of the series to learn more about great buildings across the province!


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