Diamond Schmitt

Diamond Schmitt designs Ottawa Senate building

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The joint design submitted by Diamond Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects to transform a century-old train station in Ottawa into an interim home for The Senate of Canada has been approved by the National Capital Commission (NCC).

The building was constructed in 1912 to serve as Ottawa’s central train station, but in the late 1960s, the Beaux-Arts style structure became the Government Conference Centre. Now, it will be architecturally restored and accessible to the public when it reopens in 2018.

The restored building will be home to The Senate while the permanent Chamber in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block undergoes its own renovation, which will take about a decade. The renewed facility will feature offices for Parliamentarians and their staff and committee functions.

“The rehabilitation of this heritage building will preserve and bring to light many architectural details lost during alterations in the late seventies,” said Martin Davidson, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects, in a press release. “The building will once again animate a high-profile intersection in Ottawa along Confederation Boulevard and adjacent to the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage site.”

The east addition will give the building a new public face for the unfinished region where the Corry Building was demolished decades ago, even following subsequent renovations. The building’s exterior was designed to be a modern update of the existing Beaux-Arts façade, inspired by its geometry, proportions and materiality, according to Diamond Schmitt.

The renovations will reintroduce the processional route through the building and restore its major public spaces, including the General Waiting Room and Concourse. The rehabilitated spaces will house the Senate Chamber, Senate committee rooms and parliamentary offices and restore interior design features such as columns, arches, large Diocletian windows and vaulted plaster ceilings. For the first time in decades, the public will be allowed to see the interior of the building in tours led by the Library of Parliament.

The project, which has an overall project budget of $269 million, will also include making the building universally accessible and more functional, featuring new elevator banks and staircases to connect the north and south blocks. Structural, mechanical and electrical systems will be brought up to code. State-of-the-art IT, broadcasting and lighting enhancements will ensure the building is current enough for several decades of renewed use.

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