Jury reviewing short list of designs for Block 2 of parliamentary precinct

·3 min read
Six design concepts made the short list in a competition to redevelop Block 2 of the parliamentary precinct, which is sandwiched between Wellington and Sparks streets and stretches from O'Connor Street to Metcalfe Street. (Public Services and Procurement Canada - image credit)
Six design concepts made the short list in a competition to redevelop Block 2 of the parliamentary precinct, which is sandwiched between Wellington and Sparks streets and stretches from O'Connor Street to Metcalfe Street. (Public Services and Procurement Canada - image credit)

The collection of buildings facing Parliament's Centre Block is one step closer to a facelift, as a jury will look at design submissions from six finalists in the Block 2 architectural competition this week.

A jury selected by Royal Architectural Institute of Canada will meet from Wednesday to Friday to review the six design concepts, which were showcased in a public presentation on April 11, according to a spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

Block 2 is sandwiched between Wellington and Sparks streets and stretches from O'Connor Street to Metcalfe Street. The redesign includes office space for the Senate and House of Commons.

Architectural competitions have in the past elicited great design ideas, including the Parliament Buildings in 1859, according to PSPC's website.

Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada

Amaury Greig is an associate with Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Paris, France, who has partnered with NEUF Architects in Ottawa to create a design that works with the range of historic buildings already there.

"The big challenge was really giving some coherence to that block and how to do that with buildings that are as old as 150 or 160 years to more recent ones dating back to the early '80s," Grieg said.

Their design is centred around what will become the Indigenous Peoples' Space — two of the 11 buildings on the site have been set aside to house the new space.

PSPC's website said the department will ensure "the design and construction for the entire block honours and respects the significance of the space."

Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada

Diamond Schmitt Architects, working in a joint venture with Bjarke Ingels Group, KWC Architects and ERA Architects, aims to place people above institutions with its rooftop gardens. Their design hopes to establish a "dignified urban edge" as a counterpoint to Parliament Hill.

The submission from Provencher Roy + Associés Architectes Inc. incorporates teachings from Indigenous elders into its design, creating a circle rather than a square and a "Truth and Reconciliation Tower" directly across from the Peace Tower.

Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada

The design from Wilkinson Eyre, in association with IDEA Inc., strives to present a counter narrative to the one presented by Centre Block. It takes its inspiration from nature and Indigenous teachings, traditions and cultures, and boasts an open civic space for citizens to engage in dialogue.

Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada

Creating a civic space is also at the heart of the design from Zeidler Architecture Inc. in association with David Chipperfield Architects. Its design includes a People's Square and tries to marry historic stewardship with sustainability, Indigenous values and heritage.

Public Works and Procurement Canada
Public Works and Procurement Canada

The design from Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects, in partnership with Behnisch Architekten in Boston, prioritizes natural light and strives to create a welcoming workspace with winter gardens.

"We chose to bring [...] the outdoors, indoors and providing people access to nature within the building," said Allan Teramura, a partner with Watson MacEwen Teramura Architects.

Public Services and Procurement Canada
Public Services and Procurement Canada

After consultations with an adviser on Indigenous issues, the design incorporates fragrant flowers and plans to infuse the buildings with important Indigenous plants.

"It's an amazing opportunity in Ottawa. It's a once in a lifetime kind of project," said Teramura.

The jury will recommend the first-, second- and third-place teams, and each will receive a prize.

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