March 17, 2014
by Canadian Architect
The Government Conference Centre in Ottawa celebrated its 100th birthday in June 2012, on the heels of a heritage conservation study that outlined the extensive work needed on the building. The building has not had major work done to it since the 1970s and is considered to be in critical need of rehabilitation. Rather than carrying out the work piecemeal, heritage experts recommended a holistic approach, meaning emptying the building so the necessary work can get underway.
The need to preserve this heritage building coincides with the need to find an interim home for the Senate. The Senate move is necessary so that Parliament Hill’s Centre Block can be emptied in advance of its future rehabilitation. Consequently, it was determined that the Government Conference Centre is a good fit for the Senate, as it is close to Parliament Hill and has a variety of different-sized assembly, office and support spaces that will adapt well to Senate use. Its high ceilings and column-free spaces make it a rare Ottawa building that can accommodate the expanse of the interim Senate Chamber.
The work required to rehabilitate this deteriorated heritage building includes: restoration of the stonework; seismic reinforcement; replacement of roofing materials, including skylights—one of which has been painted over; replacement of obsolete electrical, mechanical and life safety systems to meet current codes; renovation of the interior space; removal of outdated conference amenities added in the 1960s (i.e. translation booths); conformity to universal accessibility requirements; removal of hazardous materials; and expansion of the loading dock. At the same time, the building’s design, with large underused service and circulation spaces, will be reorganized to make it better suited to long-term use.
The contracts have been awarded to the architectural and construction management firms. The design of the project will be undertaken by Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects and Ottawa-based KWC Architects Inc., in joint venture, while PCL Constructors Canada will be responsible for construction management. The overall project is estimated to generate or sustain approximately 1,400 private sector jobs. The next step is to install the hoarding for the construction site in preparation for interior work. The installation is expected to begin in the spring of 2014.
The Senate is expected to occupy the Government Conference Centre from approximately 2018 until it returns to the Centre Block, following the completion of that building’s future major rehabilitation. The approved project budget is $190 million, which is not limited to the construction work. The budget also includes various components such as: planning, architectural and engineering fees; abatement and selective demolition; limited excavation; seismic, structural and envelope upgrades; replacement of mechanical, IT and electrical systems; the installation of security infrastructure; a new loading dock; interior fit-up; landscaping; risk, escalation and contingencies.
For more information, please visit www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/collineduparlement-parliamenthill/batir-building/mod-conference-eng.html
government conference centre