National Arts Centre Rejuvenation

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Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Commendation

Region

Canada

Local Authority Area

Not in UK/ROI

Information about this scheme

The National Arts Centre opened in Ottawa in 1969. It was a prominent example of Brutalist architecture and a powerful expression of modern Canadian identity. The highly sculptural forms, minimal fenestration and precast concrete conveyed a sense of solidity and ruggedness that can be understood as an interpretation of the Canadian Shield. However, the principal entrance was positioned to face the UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal, anticipating an unrealized canal basin. The resulting effect was the NAC turning its back on the city. Situated in a prominent location facing Parliament Hill and the National War Memorial, the NAC did little to connect with its surroundings. The rejuvenation to transform and expand the NAC sought to enliven the streetscape, engage the surroundings and enhance its visibility and identity. Three wings wrapping around the west, north and east sides extend and faithfully express the rigorous hexagonal language of the existing building but in a contemporary palette. Where the original is heavy and opaque, the new construction is light and transparent. The new building opens its interior to the city, sharing its activity with the public. New interior spaces frame and enhance views to Parliament Hill, to monuments, and the greenery of the Rideau Canal parkland. A hexagonal lantern equipped with LED screens that create a transparent media facade marks the new entry on Elgin Street and serves to re-orient and open the complex to the city. The lantern projects creative content produced at the NAC and also from stages across the country, reinforcing the centre’s role in the development of arts across Canada. The new atrium is a living room for the city, with public space for education, daytime performance, pre-concert gatherings and small concerts as well as community events. The Fourth Stage, which was originally a bookshop, serves as an incubator for emerging artists. A prefabricated Douglas fir coffer system provides both structural support for the roof and the finished ceiling. The geometry of the coffers is inspired by the original building and adds a layer of texture and connection. A customized curtainwall system allows for larger panes of glass and a highly transparent building envelope. A language of precast vertical striations is reinterpreted in decorative anodized aluminum mullion caps.

Credits

Architect

Diamond Schmitt Architects

Client

National Arts Centre

Conservation Architect

ERA Architects

Interior Designer

Diamond Schmitt Architects

Landscape Architect

CSW Landscape Architects Inc.

Main Contractor

PCL Constructors Canada Inc.

Original Architect

Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Sise

Services Engineer

Crossey Engineering Ltd. (mechanical)

Services Engineer

Crossey Engineering Ltd. (electrical)

Structural Engineer

Fast + Epp

Universal Design Consultant

DesignAble

Acoustic Engineer

Threshold Acoustics LLC.

Civil Engineers

Parsons Corporation

Theatre Design

Fisher Dachs Associates

Lighting Design

Lightemotion

Other

LMDG Building Code Consultants Ltd. (code)

Other

Barry Padolsky Associates Inc., Architects (urban design consultant)

Other

Engineering Harmonics (audio visual consultant

Primary Use Class

Class D2 - Assembly and Leisure