National Arts Centre lifts curtain on $110.5M reno

The National Arts Centre's newly renovated Elgin Street entrance, relocated box office and north atrium were on display Wednesday in a sneak preview of what the public will see on Canada Day.

Get a sneak peek at the NAC's bright new entrance, box office, north atrium

The NAC's signature lantern has a digital display for showing video and images to the public. (Paul Jay/CBC News)

The first phase of the National Arts Centre's $110.5-million renovation was on display Wednesday in a sneak preview of what's expected to open to the public on Canada Day.

The national theatre's newly renovated Elgin Street entrance, relocated box office and main floor of the north atrium will be open for public tours on July 1.

In the fall of 2017 the second floor of the north atrium will open, as well as the transformed Fourth Stage. In February 2018, the NAC will open the expanded Panorama Room, a 600-seat venue for large events that overlooks the Rideau Canal.

Here's a peek at some of the new features that were on display Wednesday.

With the hoarding along the sidewalk removed, the National Arts Centre is almost ready for its big reveal. The signature architectural feature of the NAC is the 20-metre high Kipnes Lantern, at centre, which will act as a digital display for the theatre.

The new entrance from Elgin Street replaces brutalist concrete with a more welcoming glass facade. The glass around the entrance and the rest of the exterior cost $15.7 million, making it the single most expensive part of the project.

A view of the north atrium, facing west. Work is still being done to complete the Elgin Street entrance, at centre, for Canada Day. A coffee shop is expected in the space to the right. The second floor of the north atrium will open to the public in the fall.

The north atrium, looking east, from the Elgin Street entrance. To the right is the NAC's original exterior wall.

Doors were cut into the old structure, leading visitors from the enclosed north atrium to the NAC's main foyer.

The north atrium makes use of not only glass, but also wood, in contrast with the concrete of the original structure. But Diamond Schmitt Architects tried to capture the triangle and hexagon patterns of the original design with new materials.

The Peace Tower of Parliament Hill, as well as Confederation Square and East Block are visible from inside the north atrium of the renovated National Arts Centre.

The glass exterior of the NAC's north atrium can be seen from Elgin Street looking south.

From the Elgin Street entrance, visitors can take stairs to the left and descend to the relocated box office.

The relocated box office for the NAC. To the right is an exit to the lower level of the main NAC foyer.

A big selling point for theatregoers: newly renovated washrooms. The refurbishment has nearly tripled the number of toilets available to patrons.

The stone tile floor of the renovated spaces reinforces the prevalent patterns of the building's original design.

Canadian architect Donald Schmitt explains the design of the renovated space, and the desire to make the NAC more open and welcoming to the public.