An internationally-acclaimed Nova Scotia architect, whose designs can be found around the world, is weighing in on what to do with the prime minister’s residence.
Brian MacKay-Lyons said 24 Sussex Dr. in Ottawa, built in the 1860s, should be torn down.
“I think the site is fantastic on the Ottawa River. It’s on the ceremonial route but it’s not distinguished architecture — it’s nice architecture.” MacKay-Lyons told Norma Lee MacLeod Thursday on Maritime Noon.
MacKay-Lyons, who has received more than 100 awards for his work and has served on the National Capital Commission which oversees the property, said Canadians should not be satisfied with “nice.”
MacKay-Lyons said it’s important that the building express Canada and our cultural ideals, one of those is that the prime minister is just another citizen.
“That is a really great design challenge to say that this house has to be, in a certain kind of way, ordinary and in other ways extraordinary,” he said.
New building makes financial sense
MacKay-Lyons said it would cost less to demolish the current structure and build a new one rather than trying to fix up the existing building which is facing a myriad of issues included outdated wiring and plumbing and asbestos.
“We could do something exceptional and show the world we have self-esteem,” he said.
He’s all for making it “green,” but warns that should not be the only aspect considered.
“It can be green and ugly and green and poor design,” he said.
MacKay-Lyons is not the first to say the building at 24 Sussex should go.
Maureen McTeer, wife of former Prime Minister Joe Clark, also thinks the building should be razed.
“It should represent an idea of Canada,” McTeer said recently. “That’s why an old, crumbling building with asbestos, which we know is poison, really is so lacking of vision, if you will, and [does not reflect] who we are as Canadians.”
See also: “‘I think we overdid the frugality’: Prime ministers scored points by pinching pennies at 24 Sussex” (The National Post)