The National Arts Centre in Ontario was rejuvenated in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, with the goal of creating a public building that was accessible and inviting. Over the years, the Brutalist-inspired venue had been renovated in pieces and lacked a cohesive design – its massive footprint meant revitalization would need a concerted effort and healthy budget.

Project Essentials

  • LocationOttawa, ON
  • ClientNational Arts Centre
  • ArchitectDiamond Schmitt Architects
  • Size60,000 ft² (5,574 m²)
  • BudgetC$90 million

The scope for the project included three new connected wings, two new floors of lobby, cultural programming enclosed by a custom glass curtain wall, a grand staircase, and a hexagonal tower overlooking the Rideau Canal.

Fast + Epp’s experiences with similarly high-profile projects meant the team was well prepared to take on a project of such scope, despite its challenging schedule. Working in close collaboration with the design-builder, StructureCraft, Fast + Epp developed a heavy timber structure and a glass-and-steel curtain wall to wrap the structure’s north side, as well as triangular glulam coffers that would be prefabricated off-site with integrated mechanical, electrical and sprinkler systems. Integration significantly sped-up construction times and protected the timber from harsh weather – the roof was installed in just three weeks.

Originally designed as a “fortress for culture”, the once monolithic and windowless National Arts Centre now shines as an iconic beacon for performing arts.

“The Fast + Epp team provided fantastic site engineering services at key stages of the project and helped to develop a seamless collaboration between the NAC, our General Contractors and the structural trade contractors that helped us realize our goals.”

Andrew Wisniowski, Director, Architectural Renewal Project