With Toronto's decade-long building boom keeping everyone in the GTHA development industry very busy, our architects are in demand in other cities across Ontario too. Although not as tall nor as numerous as the projects here, a number of significant developments are helping evolve Ottawa's urban fabric, changing the face of Canada's capital city.

A panorama of Ottawa, image via Wikimedia Commons, by G. BaranskiA panorama of Ottawa, image via Wikimedia Commons, by G. Baranski

Two prominent adaptive reuse projects in Downtown Ottawa are being designed by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects. Known for undertaking large-scale institutional developments across the world, Diamond Schmitt have designed revamped homes for both the Canadian Senate and the National Arts Centre (below).

National Arts Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittAn aerial view of NAC construction in mid July, image courtesy of the National Arts Centre

Situated on opposite sides of the Rideau Canal, both projects are prominently located only a minute-or-two's walk from Parliament Hill. West of the canal, the National Arts Centre is now in the process of being meticulously renovated.

National Arts Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittA rendering of the completed facility, image courtesy of the NAC

Improving the performance spaces of the iconic brutalist facility—designed by Fred Lebensold and opened in 1969—the Diamond Schmitt-led restoration and expansion will see part of the revamped NAC open its doors to the public on Canada Day 2017, marking the country's sesquicentennial anniversary with a modernized home for the performing arts. 

National Arts Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittThe new atrium is designed to be a prominent presence on Elgin Street, image courtesy of the NAC

Fronting Elgin Street with a new glass atrium and what's being described as a more "street-friendly" facade, this part of the renovated facility will officially be unveiled on Canada Day next year.

National Arts Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittThe Elgin Street atrium under construction, image by doublespace photography

The 2,300 seat Southam Hall—the largest of the NAC's venues—will also reopen this year with improved seating, accessibility, and acoustics, in time for the 2016-2017 season. Meanwhile, work on the NAC's main banquet room, known as the Panorama Room, will be completed in early 2018.

National Arts Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittSoutham Hall renovation underway, image courtesy of NAC

Turning to another stage the political stageon the other side of the iconic canal, and just north of the NAC, the former Union Station rail terminal is also currently being revitalized. Now known as the Government Conference Centre following the rail station's 1960s move to the suburbs, a dramatic reconstruction (now underway, below) will see the Beaux Arts complex become a temporary home to Canada's Senate chambers, while the permanent facility on Parliament Hill itself undergoes a thorough renovation. 

Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittThe GCC under construction, image by Liz Gyde

This project is also being overseen by Diamond Schmitt, partnering with local firm KWC Architects. With the design for the complex recently approved by the National Capital Commission. Opened in 1912, Union Station provided a new gateway to the city, with its high ceilings and ornate interiors making for a grand presence on the canal. However, the station was closed in 1966, and was subsequently re-purposed as a conference venue, hosting a number of relatively prominent international events, including the 2001 G20 summit.

Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittA rendering of the completed GCC, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

As the building was adapted, however, a number of alterations throughout the 1970s stripped the structure of its architectural details. The newly approved renovations will re-introduce many of the original design features, including the vaulted plaster ceilings, Diocletian windows, and rows of columns and arches.

Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittA preview of the revamped interior, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt

Starting in 2018, the new facility could house the Senate for up to a decade as the upper house's permanent home is renovated. Although the Senate will be a temporary tenant, the renovations—which will make the facility fully accessible—will make the former train station a much more attractive venue. (A more in-depth look at the project is available here, via our sister site, SkyriseCities.com).

Government Conference Centre Rehabilitation, Ottawa, Diamond SchmittThe red chamber, image courtesy of Diamond Schmitt Architects

With the new 'Confederation Line' LRT now also under construction, Ottawa is gradually embracing a more urban character. Mixed-use projects like the ambitious Zibi redevelopment—situated on the Domtar Lands along the Ottawa River and on Chaudière Island—and DevMcGill's Downtown Arthaus tower, are bringing a more urban character to the capital city.

For more about development in Ottawa, keep an eye out for an upcoming story covering construction progress on Arthaus, and check out our illustrated dataBase files, linked below. Meanwhile, more regular coverage of Ottawa projects is available via SkyriseCities.com. Want to share your thoughts about these projects? Leave a comment in the space provided on this page, or join in the conversations in our associated Forum threads.


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