Condition of the Centre Block
We are currently restoring and modernizing the Centre Block. This iconic building had not received any major upgrades since it was built more than 100 years ago. The years and the weather have taken a toll on the building.
On this page
- Now is the time for repairs and upgrades
- Assessing the condition
- Photo gallery
- Building was not environmentally sustainable
- Using the assessment to support design work
- Related links
Now is the time for repairs and upgrades
One hundred years withstanding the weather as well as constant use by parliamentarians and visitors wore on the iconic building on Parliament Hill.
The Centre Block was a workplace for the House of Commons and the Senate. Even when Parliament was on recess, the Centre Block was a hub of activity. It was open as a tourist attraction year-round. Regular maintenance and emergency repairs were done, but the time has come to restore and modernize the historic building.
Assessing the condition
Before we could develop the design plan for the Centre Block project, we first had to assess the state of the building. We needed to do invasive investigations to have a true picture of the scope of work required to restore it and ensure the best value for Canadians.
Our experts opened up sections of the walls, floors and ceilings to examine all aspects of the building. Some of the issues that were identified before and during the assessment included:
- the structural steel frame was rusting inside the walls and losing its structural integrity
- copper roofs had tears and holes that allowed water to leak inside the building, where the moisture damaged its heritage features
- the building did not meet modern seismic codes since it was built before the codes existed
- asbestos and other designated hazardous materials needed to be removed or sealed in place, a best practice known as encapsulating
- technology and security demands outgrew the century-old building
- the building did not meet modern accessibility codes
- the building needed upgraded modern safety and security systems
Our assessment provided comprehensive information for the design team on the building itself, the substances within the building and the foundation on which it is built. We also confirmed that there is very little space behind the walls and in the ceiling to run services for heating and cooling, electrical wires and cables to support information technology.
We now have the information we require to undertake the restoration, ensuring that the Centre Block can support the government well into the 21st century.
View our Centre Block project photo gallery to see examples of some of the concerns and spaces that are being addressed as part of the project.
Building was not environmentally sustainable
As a significant part of our assessment, we looked at how the Centre Block used energy. Before it closed, the Centre Block was the largest energy consumer in the Parliamentary Precinct. Running the Centre Block consumed more energy than running any of the other buildings on or around Parliament Hill.
It was also the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the precinct.
In our assessment, we used heat-sensing cameras to see where the building was losing heat. That way, we learned where the leaks were so we can repair those areas as part of the project.
We plan to make the Centre Block more energy-efficient by reducing energy consumption by 75% and indoor water consumption by 50%. Our goal is to achieve net‑zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Using the assessment to support design work
All the information we gathered during the assessment phase is stored in our detailed digital map.
The design team used information from the assessment when they were developing the design. The construction team uses it to make informed decisions about all aspects of the project, anticipate challenges and solve problems before work happens on site.
To learn about the design, visit the page Centre Block and Parliament Welcome Centre design.
- The Centre Block project
- Latest progress on the Centre Block project
- How we are restoring and modernizing the Parliament buildings
- Explore the Centre Block
- Parliament Welcome Centre
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