Diamond Schmitt and KWC Architects win Civic Trust Award

Diamond Schmitt Architects and KWC Architects have received the highest recognition from the Civic Trust Award—Europe’s longest-running awards program for the built environment—for the Senate of Canada Building.

Photo credit: doublespace photography

The award recognizes projects that make an outstanding contribution to the quality and appearance of the built environment. “Award level schemes demonstrate excellence in architecture or design, whilst being sustainable, accessible and provide a positive civic contribution,” writes the awards committee. The Senate is one of only two projects from North America to win the award.

Photo credit: doublespace photography

The Senate of Canada Building opened in 2019 as the interim home to the upper house of Parliament while Centre Block is refurbished. Ottawa’s landmark Beaux-Arts central train station (1912) has been restored, renewed and reimagined to accommodate the Senate with a modern architectural language that both complements and contrasts the celebrated features of the original building.

“A bold re-use of an old building which recognizes the gravitas of the original can be repurposed for social and environmental benefit, with a strong identity and a real architectural clarity,” remarked the judges in their comments.

Photo credit: Tom Arban Photography
Photo credit: Tom Arban Photography

“The historic fabric is refurbished and revealed and stands in comfortable juxtaposition with modern interventions. A breath-taking restoration project with highly refined new build intervention which knits into the existing architecture with serious skill,” they added. 

Formerly the Government Conference Centre, the building required a complete overhaul of major building systems as well as compliance with seismic codes, accessibility, and life safety upgrades. Two committee rooms have been inserted into the monumental and finely detailed General Waiting Room while the Concourse now houses the Senate chamber. Offices and public space are added to a building that had largely been off-limits to the public for 50 years.

“This project provided a remarkable opportunity to investigate and engage in a range of design innovations to introduce a new program in a historic building and to and convey Canadian identity through contemporary interpretations of landscape and iconography,” said Martin Davidson, principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.

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