Block 2 is located immediately south of Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa. It faces the grand Gothic Revival buildings of Canada’s Parliament, defines the fourth side of the Parliamentary Lawn, and marks the threshold between this symbolic civic space and the city. The site encompasses eleven buildings of varying size and condition with several layers of heritage designation. Across the block, historical structures will be preserved, converted and woven together with new low-carbon, efficient buildings to create a diverse yet coherent whole. The project team draws together local and indigenous design collaborators as well as heritage specialists to ensure that it responds meaningfully to the site and context.
The redesigned block will provide office space for the Senate and the House of Commons and will allow for the future consolidation of parliamentary accommodations, including the Library of Parliament. It will also include renovated retail space on the Sparks Street Mall. As a site of national importance, the project carries a responsibility not only to provide the facilities for democratic government and urban infrastructure, but also to represent the values of a nation and a vision for its sustainable and inclusive future.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Space, a neo-classical building not part of the redevelopment scheme, sits in the centre of the block. The project proposes a new public square adjacent to this building and on axis with the parliament’s Peace Tower serving as an open space to promote dialogue between Parliamentarians, the Indigenous community and the wider public.
Stewardship of the land and resources is a concept embedded in Indigenous culture. It is also a tenet of good governance, sustainability and heritage conservation, and the basis for a design approach of minimal intervention and maximum retention for Block 2. Throughout the site, demolition is largely avoided, and new elements are designed for the circular economy, incorporating recycled materials such as reclaimed copper in the façade, which additionally references the use of this material in the roofs of the historic parliament buildings. The development will be net zero for carbon emissions, incorporating a timber frame, highly insulated facades, and on-site renewable energy generation.
The size of the block means it was conceptually divided into two parts. The six buildings of Block 2 East, containing offices for the Senate of Canada and two large committee rooms, are connected by communal spaces with wintergardens. The five buildings of Block 2 West, containing offices for Members of Parliament, have a central Garden Atrium – a covered courtyard that functions as a shared social space, a thermal buffer and helps provide a healthy working environment.