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Naval Reserve buildings by GRC Architects open in Ottawa and Windsor


February 27, 2016
by Elsa Lam

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton by night. Photo by Doublespace.

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton by night. Photo by Doublespace.

HMCS Carleton and HMCS Hunter are new Naval Reserve Buildings located on waterfront sites at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa and the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario.  The consulting team, led by Ottawa-based GRC Architects, was mandated to develop a standard building design common to and suitable to both sites.  This design is intended to be adaptable to other sites across Canada in future.

Detail of structural system. Photo by Doublespace.

Detail of structural system. Photo by Doublespace.

Program elements include offices, classrooms, training areas, stores and a boathouse area (which includes storage, training and support and admin areas associated with the use of diving gear and watercraft).  These elements are disposed in a two storey structure which surrounds a double height drill deck area suitable for unit meetings and presentations as well as training and recreation. 

View of interior of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.View of interior of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

The drill deck area is adjacent to a galley kitchen to be used for training Navy cooks.  This galley is able to serve directly to the drill deck for special events – or in an emergency which requires the Naval Reserve building to provide temporary accommodation to members of the public.   

View of entry of HMCS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

View of entry of HMCS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

Access to the building is controlled, with the fully glazed main entrance lobby visible to the public.  This lobby area is able to be secured from the balance of the facility and as a result the security fencing surrounding the balance of the building does not need to be in front of the main public façade of the building. 

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

Navel establishments on land are commonly referred to as “Stone Frigates”, and conceived of as “ships”, with floors called “decks” and kitchens called “galleys”. The image of the building obviously refers to the design of ships and hence the vocation of the building – but the use of natural stone at the building base serves, in both site contexts, to integrate the building with surrounding open landscaped space. 

Facade detail. Photo by Doublespace.

Facade detail. Photo by Doublespace.

The project has a sustainable design requirement to achieve at a minimum LEED Silver rating.  Sustainable design features include a high performance building envelope which contributes to an estimated energy cost savings of 43.8% compared to AHSRAE 90.1-1999, equivalent to 6 LEED points.  While the project will not obtain the LEED credit for day-lighting, the building configuration (provision of skylights at the drill deck area and relatively shallow floor plates) will mean that many spaces in the building will be able to be naturally lit most of the year.

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

Exterior view of HCMS Carleton. Photo by Doublespace.

The challenge for the design team was to develop a standardized design, which would be suitable to two very different sites.  Features such as entrance locations, building form and building appearance were important features of the architectural design response to both sites.

The National Capital Commission was a key stakeholder and authority having jurisdiction for the HMCS Carleton project.  Extensive consultations with the NCC lead to a design solution that addressed and enhanced the interests of the NCC with a solution compatible with the character and significance of the waterfront site (the Rideau Canal system is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site) and public circulation in the vicinity of the building.  All of this was achieved without compromising the functionality or the cost effectiveness of the facility itself.