Diamond and Schmidt design $110.5 million National Arts Centre revitalization

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Architects with Diamond and Schmidt are designing a $110.5 million project to “transform and revitalize” the National Arts Centre on Elgin Street.

The project calls for improved performance spaces, public areas for education and events, improved accessibility for people with mobility challenges and “a magnificent glass entrance.”

Construction will start this summer and is expected to be completed sometime in 2017. The general contractor hasn’t yet been announced.  The NAC building will remain open during construction.

The NAC is Canada’s only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre and was built as a centennial project, first opening its doors in 1969. The NAC will remain open during the construction phase and all scheduled performances will go ahead.

“We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for this major re-investment in the NAC,” NAC president and CEO Peter Herrndorf said in a statement.

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“The new entrance of the NAC will be warm and inviting, and will embrace the Nation’s Capital for the first time.  With this new design we will finally face the city and its most important square. We often call Confederation Square “Canada’s Square” at the NAC, because it’s a place where the country gathers for important anniversaries, including Remembrance Day and Canada Day.”

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Architect Donald Schmitt has sought to create a transparent entrance to the National Arts Centre on Elgin Street. “The glass entrance, in the hexagonal shape of the NAC’s original design, will showcase the importance of the performing arts in Canada,” a NAC announcement said. “The new entrance respects the original design of the NAC, while enhancing Confederation Square and the National War Memorial.

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“It’s on the edges of the NAC, it’s on the north face, it’s going to be hugging the contours of the building, so the actual performance venues will not be affected except the 4th stage,” said NAC spokesperson Rosemary Thompson.

The architects say they’ve already begun some inside work. Exterior work will start next year.

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