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Heritage | Ottawa

The West Block

Ottawa, Ontario (in joint venture with EVOQ Architecture)

Begun in 1995, the mandate for the West Block has evolved from a relatively straight forward renovation of the much-modified existing historic structure to include highly sensitive insertions of additional functional spaces in the enclosed courtyard, along with a discreet, underground, high-security, Public Access Screening Facility.

The project brief focused initially on asbestos-abatement along with interior renovations to house offices for Members of Parliament and the restoration of all exterior building components.

The brief was then expanded to include temporary Government facilities required while the existing ones were undergoing protracted renovation work. As a result the project also includes the construction of a sophisticated glazed roof to enclose the existing courtyard of the building, providing a new, albeit temporary, House of Commons Legislative Chamber, and extensive committee room facilities.

The design intent is simple: respect and restore the heritage character of the building in every intervention while incorporating the new technical and functional program requirements. This means that restoration and rehabilitation is to be as discreet as possible within the existing facilities while “all-new” interventions are designed as contemporary interpretations of the historic Gothic Revival architectural style of the original building.

The unique design of the glazed roof over the existing courtyard has been motivated by the demanding criteria for adjustable sunlight control and acoustic performance, due to the daily broadcasting requirements, as well as structural independence from the surrounding older building.