The future of downtown explored through illustrations by Algonquin College students
Arts & Culture

The future of downtown explored through illustrations by Algonquin College students

Every spring, Ottawa Magazine features the work of student illustrators at Algonquin College. The magazine’s art director, Jeff Eustace, collaborates with instructor Fred Sebastian of the School of Media and Design to develop a guiding concept for the collaboration. This year, they settled on the future of downtown, to accompany the series exploring the same theme in the issue.

Illustrator Kirstin Smith wanted to use the magazine’s vibe, “curious, thoughtful, lively and with a sense of humour,” as she put it, as a way to peer into the future. So Smith included as much of downtown life as she could — the people, the places, and even the pets — while keeping it unmistakably Ottawa.

“I wanted to include many aspects of a future downtown including public spaces, transit, housing, entertainment, green space, bike paths and walkways,” wrote Smith in her submission note. “The challenge was including these elements while also highlighting that it is a redesign, a work in progress, and a future in the making. I also wanted to make sure it was distinctly referencing Ottawa and in no way could be confused with any other city. I found that combining two of my initial sketches, one that included a blueprint and another that included an O in the middle and adding a little nod to the flag of Ottawa, was a clever solution.”

From left: Kirstin Smith used the O of Ottawa to structure an illustration that suggested the city plan for leisure and recreational spaces; Mathis Cournoyer envisioned rooftop patios and gardens — even a new kind of subway; the excitement around repurposing office towers into apartment units was the central theme of this illustration by Laryssa Wysoczanskyj

A very futuristic depiction of the city’s downtown by Mathis Cournoyer was used as the opening image in The Future of Downtown editorial package.

“For the futuristic vision of the city itself, I imagined a vertically expanded city that gives off a sensation of grandeur and allows for the preservation of land area” wrote Cournoyer, noting that the people relaxing and enjoying themselves serves as “a hopeful view of the future.”

Laryssa Wysoczanskyj, whose submission accompanied a development story in The Future of Downtown series, chose to focus on the idea of renovating office towers into apartment units. “These three buildings represent the transformation of underutilized office buildings being turned into living spaces, the leftmost building being a recent memory of the past, the centre building representing the transitional stage of the present, and the last building: plans of the future when all these spaces will be populated. A person in a blank canvas of a room in the center building is the agent of change, moving into a new space and changing to into a future home.”

Ottawa Magazine thanks Fred Sebastian, and all of the students in the School of Media and Design who submitted illustrations, for helping us to build our Spring/Summer 2023 issue.