New Civic campus design informed by pandemic, CEO says

The design for The Ottawa Hospital's new Civic campus will showcase "the future of health care," its CEO promised Tuesday — a future shaped by lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Construction on $2.8B hospital at Dow's Lake slated to begin in 2024

The main entrance of the future Civic campus of The Ottawa Hospital will include a glass atrium that lets in natural light. The 11-storey south tower, with a helipad on its roof, and seven-storey north tower will house outpatient care clinics as well as inpatient units. (The Ottawa Hospital)

The design for The Ottawa Hospital's new Civic campus will showcase "the future of health care," its CEO promised Tuesday — a future shaped by lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $2.8-billion campus at Dow's Lake is set to begin construction in 2024 and open in 2028, Cameron Love told city council members during a briefing.

"I don't think it will be another 100 years before we see another major pandemic," Love said. "This is an opportunity like none other."

The new Civic will have between 180 and 200 more beds than the current hospital, and each patient will have their own room and washroom to prevent infection, Love said.

The new Civic campus, shown here surrounded by more residential towers than currently exist, could eventually expand onto Carling Avenue with additional space for research and medical education. (The Ottawa Hospital)

As the region's only trauma centre, the Civic campus admits patients from across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, and includes a referral centre for Nunavut.

Completion of the new campus will allow the existing century-old hospital to be redeveloped for patients discharged to rehab or long-term care, said Love. Combined with The Royal Mental Health Centre, it would also turn Carling Avenue into the city's second distinct health district.

The new hospital will make maximum use of advanced technology, from artificial intelligence to robotics, and draw together researchers in neuroscience, Love promised.

Doughnut design gone

The new building will feature two towers joined by a glass atrium entrance accessible from Carling, and will no longer resemble the doughnut-shaped preliminary design proposed in 2018.

The 11-storey south tower will have a helicopter landing pad on its roof. There will also be room for the future relocation of the Ottawa Heart Institute, which recently expanded its current site. 

The emergency department will be below ground level at the rear of the building, sheltering it from the elements — the new normal in northern climates, Love said.

The parking garage will be the first section of the campus to begin construction, and there's even a plan to relocate the existing Queen Juliana Park onto its roof. 

The public would reach the new Civic campus from an entrance on Carling Avenue. Ambulances would enter underground at the back of the building. (The Ottawa Hospital)

$400M fundraising campaign

Ontario's Ministry of Health is to take on 75 per cent of the $2.8-billion cost. The community is expected to shoulder the rest, which will mean a major fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $400 million.

The selection of the 20-hectare site, which is twice as big as the current one and sits on federal land, caused great controversy in 2016 when the National Capital Commission recommended it be built at Tunney's Pasture instead of the Central Experimental Farm.

Nearby residents have worried about the impact on traffic and parking, and Coun. Jeff Leiper said Tuesday the hospital hasn't provided much information on those fronts.

Love said the hospital will meet with local groups starting this month and through early fall, but will need the ministry to approve its proposed plan before it can update traffic studies.

Other councillors wanted to be sure the new light rail station would be integrated into the hospital, but that design isn't complete either, said staff.

Queen Juliana Park could be relocated onto the roof of the parking garage, and the O-Train's Trillium Line would run nearby. (The Ottawa Hospital)


Kate Porter


Kate Porter covers municipal affairs for CBC Ottawa. Over the past two decades, she has also produced in-depth reports for radio, web and TV, regularly presented the radio news, and covered the arts beat.