With a total floor area of approximately 79,000m², the Bank of Canada complex occupies an entire city block in Ottawa’s central Parliamentary District. The complex consists of the Classical grey granite Centre Building, designed by Morani, Lawson and Morris and opened in 1938, flanked by two modern glass towers and indoor atrium designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in 1979.
By Jim Taggart
The renewal project was designed to maintain the major architectural components of these historically significant structures, while bringing the facility up to 21st century standards for accessibility, fire and life safety, security and seismic performance. In addition, the interior reconfiguration responds to the client’s desire to reinvigorate its operations by fostering a collaborative workplace culture. Moving away from private workspaces to an open environment, the Interior modifications consciously drive a future thinking workplace that will appeal to the brightest and best of the emerging young workforce.
The major physical components of the project included complete interior demolition and fit-up of new office space, new structural concrete shear walls and floor slab infills and new staircase configurations. These changes were strategic in nature, designed to meet the functional criteria in the most unobtrusive way possible.
For example, the careful demolition and replacement of the existing elevator and fire stair core in the office towers with new seismically upgraded versions eliminated the need for the more common, but more visually intrusive strategy of storey height steel cross-bracing installed behind the existing glass curtain wall. The perimeter of each tower floor thus became available for the creation of a 450mm deep ‘dynamic buffer zone’ to improve energy efficiency and environmental control.
With the installation of an interior wall of glass, this zone forms the plenum of a double envelope system that improves thermal performance and permits the pre-conditioning of air before it is distributed through the building. While a conventional suspended ceiling might have achieved the same effect, it would have concealed Erickson’s original exposed concrete structure.
The perimeter buffer zone, combined with a new open plan office configuration, meant that a labyrinth of ductwork could be avoided and supplementary heat supplied by radiant panels, discretely located in the coffers of the concrete tree column structure. These low-profile panels leave space for the integration of high efficiency lighting and sprinkler heads within the coffers.
Other new building systems include new roof-level mechanical penthouses and main electrical rooms in the basement. Together, these systems result in overall operational energy savings of 70% over the existing condition, contributing multiple credits to the project’s LEED Gold designation.
In the two towers, Erickson’s open-office concept column grid was restored. Open-plan spaces, modular furniture and sit-stand desks, create a variety of ‘me, we and us’ workspaces. The renewal seamlessly integrates power and data for 21st century digital technologies.
Interconnected spaces on the main floor and the level below, allow the Bank to create a new destination for conferences and events. The latest technology, together with adjacent lounges and integrated food and beverage service, provides support to a wide variety of meeting spaces.
Extensive external plaza works include the construction of a new glass pyramid, which serves as the main entry for the Bank of Canada Museum, which was moved from the Centre Block to the site of a below grade loading dock beneath the plaza. This relocation was necessary in part because the public entrance to the museum had been through the atrium, a space now off-limits to the general public due to the security requirements now imposed on the central banks of G-7 countries.
Jim Taggart, FRAIC is Editor of SABMag.
Demountable wall systems used in the Bank of Canada were provided by Teknion.
- Client Bank of Canada
- Architect Perkins+Will
- Structural Engineer Adjeleian Allen Rubeli Limited
- Mechanical/Electrical Engineer BPA
- Interior Design Perkins+Will
- Landscape Architect DTAH
- Sustainability Consultant Perkins+Will
- Heritage Consultant EVOQ Architecture (Formerly FGMDA)
- Construction Manager PCL Construction
- Project Manager CBRE Limited/Project Management Canada
- Photos doublespace photography
- Energy intensity = 183 kWh/m² /year
- Energy savings relative to reference building = 44%
- Water consumption = 4,645L/occupant/year (based on 250 days of operation)
- Water savings relative to reference building = 35%