Ottawa’s former Union Station reopens as interim Senate of Canada building

Today, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, officially handed over the newly renamed Senate of Canada Building to the Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate.

A rendering of the interim Senate of Canada Chamber. Image via Diamond Schmitt Architects.
A rendering of the interim Senate of Canada Chamber.

The event marks the culmination of years of collaboration with the Senate to restore the century-old former train station and modernize it into a state-of-the art, accessible and green building. Designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects in collaboration with KWC Architects, the interim Senate Chamber is built in what used to be the train station’s concourse. The design takes full advantage of the room’s high ceilings and prominently features the heritage skylight and plaster ceiling. The new interim Chamber is the same size as the Senate Chamber in the Centre Block but is fully fit-up for television and online broadcasting.

“Canadians can be proud of the utmost care and diligence taken in restoring Ottawa’s former Union Station for generations to come. This building was once a point of entry to Ottawa for tourists, new Canadians and visitors. It is only fitting that it has been revitalized into a safer, greener and more accessible space that will allow the public to see the important work of Canada’s Senate,” said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility.

Narrowly escaping demolition in the 1960s, Ottawa’s Union Station has undergone several transformations since it was completed in 1912. Its most recent transformation from the Government Conference Centre to the interim home of the Senate of Canada will make it accessible to the public once again.

The project introduced an addition on the east side of the building, finishing the east façade so it now matches with the building’s Beaux-Arts style architecture. That side of the building had been left unfinished when the building next to it was demolished in the 1960s.The new addition includes elevators to make the building more accessible.

The restored building will house the Senate Chamber, as well as 3 new committee rooms, and offices for the Senate Administration and Senate Leadership. The restoration created about 1,400 good middle-class jobs for construction workers, skilled tradespeople, engineers, architects and other suppliers.

More than 90% of construction waste from the project has been diverted from landfills.

Images via Diamond Schmitt Architects.

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