TORONTO – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, accompanied by Martin Davidson, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects, recently toured the interim home for the Senate of Canada, which is under construction in Ottawa.
The city’s century-old Beaux-Arts train station was converted to the Government Conference Centre in the late 1960s and is now being restored to house the Senate while Centre Block on Parliament Hill undergoes a decade-long renovation.
Diamond Schmitt and KWC Architects in Joint Venture are restoring the major public spaces including the finely detailed General Waiting Room and Concourse to reveal spaces and architectural details not seen in 50 years. The renovations will also reintroduce the processional route through the building and add a public face to the previously unfinished east façade.
“The Prime Minister took great interest in the restoration work underway and how the building is being upgraded for the 21st century,” said Martin Davidson, of the Toronto-based architecture practice.
The building will house the Senate Chamber, Senate committee rooms and parliamentary offices and restore interior design features of columns, arches, large Diocletian windows, marble floors and vaulted plaster ceilings. A pedestrian tunnel connecting with the Chateau Laurier Hotel will also be re-opened.
The interim Senate will become universally accessible and more functional, with new elevator banks and staircases to connect the north and south blocks. Structural, mechanical and electrical systems will be brought up to current codes. State of the art IT, broadcasting and lighting enhancements will position the building for many more decades of renewed use.
The Senate will relocate to the former train station in the fall of 2018. The Library of Parliament will conduct tours of the building, allowing public access for the first time in decades.
Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) is based in Toronto. Informed by urbanism, driven by design, the firm’s extensive portfolio includes performing arts centres, residential and commercial buildings, research and academic facilities. Current projects include the new Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver; the Collection and Conservation Centre at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa; and the design for David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The firm is currently shortlisted for the UK Holocaust Memorial and the Centre for Music, both in London, England.