Winning 'Block 2' design features public square, preserves heritage buildings

The upcoming redesign of an entire block of buildings across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill would bring courtyards, atriums and a new public square to downtown Ottawa, while preserving heritage buildings.

Entire block across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill up for $430M redevelopment

Redesign of Wellington Street buildings heralded as new ‘south block’ of Parliament Hill

5 months ago
Duration 1:15
John Ralston Saul, an honorary adviser to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, says redesign will form the south side of ‘Parliament Square,’ connecting the five buildings into a new complex while preserving their heritage features.

The upcoming redesign of an entire block of buildings across Wellington Street from Parliament Hill would bring courtyards, atriums and a new public square to downtown Ottawa while preserving heritage buildings, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) announced Monday.

"Block 2" is sandwiched between Wellington and Sparks streets and stretches from O'Connor Street to Metcalfe Street. The redesign includes office space for the Senate, House of Commons and Indigenous Peoples' Space.

A jury selected by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada met last month to review the six short-listed design concepts.

The winners are the partnership between Toronto's Zeidler Architecture Inc. and Britain's David Chipperfield Architects. EVOQ Architecture from Montreal, which worked on the West Block renovations, and Two Row Architect from Six Nations were brought in to help.

Their pitch "weaves together old and new" by repurposing existing heritage buildings, building a new net-zero structure and working in courtyards and that new "People's Square."

The new People's Square 'anchors Block 2 as the fourth side of the parliamentary lawn' and makes a public space around the Indigenous Peoples’ Space building. (Zeidler Architects Inc.)

"Stewardship of the land and of resources is a concept embedded in Indigenous culture. It is also a tenet of good governance and the basis of our design," Zeidler wrote on its project page.

"We chose to retain each existing heritage building, avoiding the waste and carbon vandalism of demolition. Old structures are woven together with new net-zero structures to create a diverse, characterful, yet coherent whole."

The design from Zeidler Architecture Inc. in association with David Chipperfield Architects retains all the heritage buildings and strives for net zero structures. (Public Works and Procurement Canada)

The winning team said an atrium will connect the five buildings closest to O'Connor Street. It doesn't propose widespread changes to the south side of Sparks Street.

The statue of Terry Fox, who ran across Canada to raise money for cancer research, is to be moved to another prominent position.

The Garden Atrium would be 'a covered courtyard that functions as a shared social space and acts as a thermal buffer to protect the existing buildings from the extreme Ottawa climate.' (Zeidler Architects Inc.)

"This work will transform a mix of functionally obsolete buildings into an innovative complex that will meet the needs of a 21st-century parliamentary democracy," wrote PSPC in the announcement.

The department said the next step is to sign a contract with the winners. The goal is to start construction in 18 to 24 months, or between late 2023 and the first half of 2024.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi said the work will cost an estimated $430 million.

Block 2 is just to the right of the Peace Tower in this mock-up. (Zeidler Architects Inc.)
Block 2, as it looked in February 2019, is to the left of the Peace Tower in this drone image. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

With files from The Canadian Press