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Sir John A. Macdonald Building (2015)

25 Aug 2017
Image Credit: doublespace photography
Architectural Credit: NORR Architects

In this post of our summer blOAAg series “Shaping Ontario at 150: The built and unbuilt”, we take a look at this historical building situated in the nation's capital, Ottawa.

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Architects: NORR Architects
Heritage Architect: MTBA Associates Inc
Structural: John G Cooke and Asssociates
Date of Completion: 2015

The former Bank of Montreal (a federally classified heritage building) and the adjacent empty lot to the west have been transformed into a new Confederation Room for the House of Commons, providing a state-of-the-art conference facility as a venue for meetings, celebrations, educational and ceremonial functions.

The design approach for the infill and renovation restores the somewhat dilapidated former bank to its original glory and fills the adjacent lot with a contemporary insertion. This addition is deliberately separated from the heritage building by a glass-enclosed atrium that is set back from Wellington Street to maintain visibility of the existing west façade and an understanding of the three-dimensional character of the heritage building. Visitors enter the new pavilion and are processed through security screening before they arrive in the atrium. The atrium acts as an entry lobby to the former banking hall and contains the public vertical circulation.

A language of glass blades and beams, bronze fittings and framework, granite, marble, limestone and walnut has been used to create a new contemporary wing that echoes the richness of architectural decoration, material palette and character of the original heritage building, but with a modern compositional and technical sensibility. The result provides an appropriate environment suitable for the events of state that the facility will hold, and creates an engaging dialogue between heritage and modern elements.

The upper portion of the new pavilion holds the street line, reinforcing the larger urban context by filling in a critical gap in the city edge across from Parliament Hill. The lower level of the pavilion is pulled back to create a shallow forecourt where the falling elevation of Wellington Street is elegantly handled through both stairs and barrier free ramp. Loading from Wellington Street adjacent to the main entrance has been discretely accommodated through a loading bay concealed behind a folding bronze-clad wall.

2017 Ottawa Architectural Conservation Awards – Adaptive Re-Use; 144 Wellington Building, Ottawa, ON
2016 CAHP|ACECP Award of Excellence, Conservation Architecture, Sir John A. Macdonald Building, Ottawa, ON
2015 National Trust Award for Building Heritage in Adaptive Use/Rehabilitation, Sir John A. Macdonald Building
2015 Award of Excellence: Urban Infill Low Rise - City of Ottawa, Urban Design Awards, Sir John A. Macdonald Building
2014 CAHP/ACECP Award of Excellence for Heritage Planning - Adaptive Reuse Project, Sir John A. Macdonald Building

Image credit: doublespace photography
Architectural credit: NORR Architects

Image credit: doublespace photography
Architectural credit: NORR Architects

This post is forms part of our blOAAg summer series “Shaping Ontario at 150: The built and unbuilt” exploring architecture intrinsically tied to the community it is or was situated in. Check out the other posts in our series for more great buildings across the province!

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