#CdnBuilt for Generations: CHBA member revives Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in time for Canada’s 150th

The new entrance to the NAC days before its grand opening.
Photo credit:  Lisa Logan Photography for Diamond Schmitt Architects

Measured at more than one million square feet of concrete, brick and granite, the National Arts Centre has been home to thousands of cultural arts performances since its grand opening in 1969. On July 1, 2017 — 50 years after its original construction began— the Canadian landmark will be unveiled to the public once again, thanks in part to CHBA member Diamond Schmitt Architects.

“This renewal brings the artistic energy of creation to the forefront to engage with the public and creates a dynamic crossroads for gathering at the NAC at all times of the day,” writes Diamond Schmitt Architects, the group overseeing the renovation, on its website.

The NAC project was one of the largest investments the Canadian government has ever made in cultural infrastructure, according to the Ottawa Citizen. Its improvements will allow for more audience events, will increase visitor accessibility and will offer better performance areas — all while bridging the gap between community and arts. Phase 1 is scheduled for unveiling on Canada Day.

Out of 1967 & into the 21st Century

In 1967, nearly 40 years after the demolition of Ottawa’s sole major performing arts venue (Russell Theatre), the National Capital Arts Alliance began work with the City to develop a new major performing arts establishment. It was named the National Arts Centre.

The Entrance to the NAC before renovations commenced. Photo: Tony Caldwell for the Ottawa Sun.

Envisioned as a celebration of Canada’s centennial birthday in 1967, it was two years before the project was completed – a Brutalist-style building with a fortress-like appearance.

In 1969 the NAC opened its doors and quickly became the heart of major performing arts theatre in Ottawa.

Today, Diamond Schmitt Architects has drawn on forty plus years of architectural experience to renovate the NAC. The architectural firm will maintain the existing building to honor its 50-year-old heritage over the three-phased restoration project.

In the works include Phase 2 which will bring a new Fourth stage and café to life in September 2017. By February 2018 Phase 3 will offer new meeting rooms and entrance on the Mackenzie King Bridge.

Find out how other CHBA members are contributing to #CdnBuilt communities by following the hashtag on social media. For other stories, visit the Giving back section of our blog.

Learn more about Diamond Schmitt Architects and this project by clicking here.