Project Management Institute

Ottawa Parliamentary Precinct Renewal Case Study

Strengthening the Heart of Canada's Democracy

The buildings that comprise the Parliamentary Triad—the West Block, Centre Block, and East Block—are some of Canada’s most significant historic and cultural landmarks.

At the turn of the 21st century, leaders in the federal government recognized the need both to preserve and modernize these iconic symbols of Canadian democracy.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is managing the multi-decade effort to rehabilitate these heritage buildings while also meeting accommodation and accessibility requirements and maintaining a secure and welcoming environment for parliamentarians, staff, and visitors. 

The Long Term Vision and Plan called for relocating Parliament from the Centre Block during the building’s renovation, which is expected to be the largest heritage restoration project of its kind in Canada. (There are approximately 25,000 heritage elements in the Centre Block alone, ranging from light fixtures to frescoes.)

This required planning to complete work on the the Government Conference Centre and the West Block first so these buildings could accommodate the Senate of Canada and the House of Commons respectively during Centre Block construction.

Restoration of the Government Conference Centre began in 2014. Project scope included complete rehabilitation of the building and accommodation of Senate functions.

Restoration of the West Block began in 2011. Project scope included complete rehabilitation of the West Block building and transformation of the central courtyard from an outdoor space into an interim House of Commons for the next 10 years. 

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Hear More on the Projectified Podcast

PMI's Projectified podcast interviewed Rob Wright, assistant deputy minister with the Science and Parliamentary Infrastructure branch within Public Services and Procurement Canada, about this massive project to transform Canada's seat of government.

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One of the Most Influential Projects 2020

The Parliament Hill Rehabilitation was selected as the No. 1 Most Influential Project in Canada among the PMI Most Influential Projects 2020.

PSPC's Comprehensive Project Management Approach

National Project Management System (NPMS). PSPC uses a project management framework that provides direction and tools and ensures critical knowledge capture.

Proven Practices. Sound project management practices for the project were affirmed by Canada’s Auditor General in 2010, and confirmed by a 2012 independent review. 

Independent Reviews. Experts review all construction proposals from prime contractors, and evaluate cost estimates monthly. 

The Senate of Canada Building

This photo, taken in September 2018, shows what used to be the old train station’s general waiting room. The new committee rooms are on either side. The ceiling, pillars and windows were meticulously rehabilitated as part of the project.

Preserve Beaux-Arts Style Grandeur

The Senate of Canada Building (formerly the Government Conference Centre) was originally Ottawa’s Union Station, a Beaux-Arts style building from the early 20th century with a barrel-vaulted ceiling inspired by classical Roman baths.

Architectural heritage elements requiring restoration included the vaulted plaster ceiling in the general waiting room, the plaster faux travertine walls and columns in the general waiting room, the heritage windows and columns, and the plaster ceiling in the interim Senate Chamber.

This photo from early June 2018 shows the interim Senate Chamber nearing completion.

Strengthen, Upgrade and Open

Transforming the former Government Conference Centre into the Senate of Canada Building called for structural upgrades to meet modern building codes and seismic requirements as well as the removal of hazardous materials. 

Updates included replacing obsolete electrical, mechanical and life-safety systems, modernizing the interior, and upgrading security systems. Renovations to meet universal accessibility requirements included creating a barrier-free path of travel and ensuring the accessibility of all elevators and washrooms.

Cost and Schedule

$219 million CAD

Construction started in 2014. The Senate held its first meeting in the building in February 2019.

 

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Economic Impact

The project created or sustained approximately 1,400 jobs

Sustainability

More than 90% of waste from construction was diverted from landfills. Green features included water-efficient plumbing, energy-efficient LED lighting, and energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems

The West Block

A construction worker rehabilitates a window arch, Southeast Tower, West Block

Preserve 19th Century Gothic Revival Heritage

The West Block stands as an exemplar of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture. Restoration efforts extended to the exterior masonry, sculptural elements, wood carvings, stone carvings, plasterwork, and decorative ironwork. 

Almost half the building’s 140,000 stones had to be removed, numbered, and reinstalled. At the height of the project, more than 200 masons experienced in historical restoration worked daily on the building. 

This photo, taken in April 2018, shows workers doing finishing work on the interim House of Commons Chamber. You can see the steel columns that rise up like giant trees to support the glass roof.

A New Home for the House of Commons

Bringing the West Block into the 21st century demanded improvements from the ground up. The building required structural reinforcement to withstand earthquakes, excavation and construction to accommodate the interim House of Commons, and the safe removal of asbestos. 

Updates included the replacement of electrical, mechanical, and safety systems, new information technology and multimedia capabilities, and sustainable improvements such as LED lighting, which will reduce the building’s carbon footprint. 

Renovations to increase accessibility included barrier-free paths on all levels of the building, an elevator that can accommodate a power-assisted wheelchair, barrier-free stalls within washrooms, Braille signage, and stairs with aids for the visually impaired. 

Cost and Schedule

$863 million CAD

Construction started in January 2011 and completed in November 2018. The House of Commons moved into West Block in January 2019.

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Economic Impact

The project created or sustained approximately 5,000 jobs.

Indigenous-owned businesses provided goods and services including artisanal millwork and furniture.

Sustainability

93% of waste from West Block construction was diverted from landfills.