One of the most important cultural and historic landmarks in Ottawa, the former Union train station, has been transformed into the interim home for the Senate of Canada.
The principal challenge was to insert a unique and different program into the heritage-designated building while restoring the character-defining elements of the original design. The project brief called for a full modernization of building systems while inserting a Senate Chamber, committee rooms, offices and public space.
An exterior east addition resolves a long incomplete and abandoned elevation and now contributes to the urban life of the City.
New architectural insertions of the Chamber and committee rooms are carefully calibrated to the scale and volumes of the original monumental spaces they inhabit. A second layer of elaboration establishes a dialogue between craft and fabrication in resolving three distinct stylistic voices – the neo-Gothic of the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill, the Beaux-Arts classicism of the train station, and the evolving imagery and iconography of Canadian identity.
Bronze panels frame committee rooms with large-scale photographic images of landscapes rendered as half-tone images. Maple leaves of native species hand-carved by the Dominion Sculptor of Canada are 3D scanned, ma chine-carved into doors or used in cast glass panels. The density of detailing and finishes in bronze, wood, glass and carpet increase towards the Chamber.
The wood-panelled Chamber incorporates carved wood pilasters of an abstracted pinecone pattern framing heraldic shields. The Canadian Coat of Arms sits atop the Throne, itself fabricated from bookmatched Vancouver Island marble.
The introduction of new materials and finishes, combined with the careful repair and restoration of historic elements, breathes new life into this building, providing an appropriate home for the Senate and contributing to the city for generations to come.