Ottawa design awards to NAC project, renewal of Bank of Canada building

The Lantern Room above the NAC's Elgin Street entrance will now be named for Mohammed Al Zaibak. Photo: Peter Robb

The $110 million rejuvenation of the National Arts Centre has been given an award of excellence from the Ottawa Urban Design Awards. The seventh edition of the biennial program recognizes projects built in Ottawa between Sept. 1, 2015 and Sept. 1, 2017.

At $110.5 million, the NAC project is the the biggest federal investment in cultural infrastructure that marks Canada 150. The new building features improved performance spaces, public areas for education and events, full accessibility and a gleaming glass atrium. 

The addition was designed by Donald Schmitt of the Toronto-based firm Diamond Schmitt.

Winners of an Ottawa Design Award of Excellence will be sent as the Ottawa entry to the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Urban Design competition in 2018.

The NAC was the winner is the Urban Infill, Low Rise category.

The jury, composed of  found that the rejuvenation “is successful in creating public and semi-formal venues for the city – and offers a successful interior public space.”

Awards of merit in this category went to the Rideau Centre Expansion; the Mutchmor Public School Addition (185 Fifth Ave.); 853 St. Laurent Blvd.; Affordable Housing (211 Lees Ave.); Pinhey Quartet (63 and 65 Pinhey Ave.)

The Rideau building (1035 Bank St.) at Lansdowne Park won a special Jury Prize for Tall Building Design Excellence.

Awards of Merit for Urban Infill, Mid to High Rise went to Tribeca Lofts (Centretown); The Eddy (1000 Wellington St.). 

The renewal of the Bank of Canada building won an award of Excellence for Public Places and Civic Spaces.

Awards of Merit went to the Canadian Building Trades Monument in Major’s Hill Park; a reimagined Optimist Park (43 Ste Cecile St.); Pindigen Park (adjacent to the Canadian War Museum/LeBreton Park); Museum of Nature (Landscapes of Canada); West Carleton War Memorial; Ogilvy Square (Nicholas Street, from Rideau to Besserer St.); Main Street Renewal; George Street Plaza; Global Centre for Pluralism. 

The renewal of the North Perimeter Wall on Parliament Hill (Phase 3) took the Award of Excellence for Urban Elements. Awards of Merit in this category went to A View from Two Sides (a public art commission on the Adawe Crossing Pedestrian Bridge); Erractic Field (Trim Road between Old Montreal Road and Antigonish Avenue in Orléans); Greystone Village — The Oblate Lands Redevelopment (Old Ottawa East).

The Award of Merit for Visions and Master Plans went to a proposal for a Central Parkway, a imagined roadway which offers a new vision for development and intensification in the city.

An Award of Merit went to the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s Master Plan for Parks (East Industrial, Elmvale-Eastway-Riverview-Parkview and Hawthorne Meadows-Sheffield Green).

An Award of Excellence for Student Projects centred on a plan by students from McGill University to transform the Inter-City Bus Terminal on Catherine Street.

Awards of Merit to two teams from Carleton University for Adapting Existing Parking Structures; and a Feedmill Innovation District Master Plan. 

The jury included:

• David Leinster, a landscape architect and partner at The Planning Partnership in Toronto.
• James Parakh, manager of Urban Design for Toronto and East York District, City of Toronto Planning Division.
• Emmanuelle van Rutten, director at the Moriyama & Teshima Architects’ Ottawa office.

For much more information on all the awards, please see

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.