TORONTO – The transformation of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa by Diamond Schmitt Architects from a mid-century concrete edifice to a transparent structure of wood and glass was recognized on October 17th at the Ottawa Urban Design Awards. The $110-million rejuvenation project received the Award of Excellence for Urban Infill.
Three new connected wings wrap the Brutalist original in a sequence of light-filled public spaces that activate the NAC’s programs throughout the day, from noon-hour concerts to pre-performance talks and post-concert receptions. The architecture of the new space reveals the artistic animation within and provides extraordinary views of the Parliamentary Precinct as well as establishes a direct connection with the public realm.
“We are honoured to be recognized by the City of Ottawa with this award and believe the new NAC will contribute to the enhancement and urban character of downtown Ottawa,” said Donald Schmitt, Principal, Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The architectural design includes a number of innovations, including a prefabricated and pre-serviced exposed wood structure that showcases Canadian wood technology for speed of construction. A high level of transparency is achieved by a custom-designed curtainwall system detailed with perforated bronze fins that allow daylight to fill the public spaces.
A new main entry to the four-stage complex now addresses the city rather than the former entrance that faced the Rideau Canal. The Kipness Tower, a 60-foot-high glazed beacon with embedded LED will project performance from within the NAC and from across the country and will be inaugurated later this year.
Originally completed in the late 1960’s, the NAC is a landmark building with a range of performance and production spaces and has developed a storied history of excellence in the presentation of music, drama and dance from across Canada.
Diamond Schmitt Architects (www.dsai.ca) has offices in Vancouver, Toronto and New York City. Informed by urbanism, driven by design, the firm’s extensive portfolio includes performing arts centres, residential, recreational and commercial buildings, research and academic facilities. Current projects include the restoration of Ottawa’s heritage Government Conference Centre to include the interim home of the Senate of Canada; Robarts Common at the University of Toronto; and the master plan and multiple projects for Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, a new model of urban development that is rising adjacent to Toronto.