Rehabilitating the West Block
As a result of a fire that destroyed the Centre Block in 1916, the West Block is the oldest of the Parliament’s Buildings. The load-bearing masonry structure was built in three campaign periods, starting in 1859, and it was completed in 1909 by the Department of Public Works:
- The South and East Wings: from 1859 to 1865
- The Northwest Wing: from 1875 to 1879
- The North Wing: from 1906 to 1909
The West Block is being rehabilitated to meet the current and future needs of Parliamentarians, while respecting its heritage character. In accordance with the Long Term Vision and Plan, the permanent courtyard infill will serve as the House of Commons Chamber during the rehabilitation of the Centre Block. Rehabilitation work began in 2011, and building occupancy is planned for the opening session of Parliament in fall 2018.
The West Block rehabilitation work includes:
- the replacement of electrical, mechanical and life-safety systems
- the rehabilitation of exterior masonry, sculptural elements and decorative ironwork
- the replacement of the windows and roof
- asbestos abatement and demolition
- seismic and structural reinforcement of the building to withstand earthquakes
- the excavation and construction of the courtyard infill to build the interim House of Commons
- the modernization of information technology and multimedia capabilities
Watch the rehabilitation of the West Block video
Learn how two civil engineering students are helping to manage this large rehabilitation project.
The House of Commons Chamber
The building will be fit up to house the interim Chamber and associated support functions, four committee rooms and support functions, and offices for the Prime Minister, House Officers, party leaders and party whips.
The interim Chamber will be housed in a permanent infill in the covered courtyard. The infill will increase the West Block’s total useable space by approximately 50%. Following the rehabilitation of the Centre Block, the West Block will revert back to being a House of Commons facility by housing Parliamentary office suites, and the infill will be converted into committee rooms.
The Chamber will be covered by a glass roof. The roof is designed to filter sunlight and outside noises. The bright and airy Chamber will have a number of environmentally and people-friendly design features. These features will include a triple-glazed roof with controls to manage sunlight levels, and the design also includes LED lights, which will help save energy.
The Department is targeting Green Globes and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certifications through the implementation of various sustainability measures.
Drone footage of the West Block rehabilitation
Enjoy the breathtaking aerial images of the Visitor Welcome Centre, the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower and courtyard infill glass roof.
Transcript of the drone footage of the West Block rehabilitation video
Start of video.
(Throughout the video, aerial images shot from a drone are shown, and light music is played in the background.)
(High-angle shot of the Centre Block, followed by an overhead shot of Parliament Hill.)
(Overhead shot of the Centre Block, rising towards the top of the Peace Tower.)
Text on screen: Parliament Hill Centre Block
(Overhead shot of the West Block, showcasing its glass roof.)
(Medium shot of the West Block’s glass roof, moving over its surface.)
(Wide shot of the West Block.)
Text on screen: Parliament Hill West Block
(Close-up shot of the Mackenzie Tower roof, circling the tower to the left.)
(Close-up shot of the Mackenzie Tower roof, spiralling downwards to the right.)
(Close-up shot of the Mackenzie Tower, moving downwards towards a window.)
(Close-up shot of the Mackenzie Tower roof, rising towards the top of the tower.)
Text on screen: West Block’s Mackenzie Tower
(Vertical tilt over the construction site of the Visitor Welcome Centre.)
(High-angle view of the Visitor Welcome Centre construction site.)
Text on screen: Future site: Visitor Welcome Centre
(Public Services and Procurement Canada Wordmark.)
End of video.
Architecture and design of the West Block
Inside the building, a number of areas were identified as heritage spaces. While these areas will keep their original appearance, they are being modernized to current standards. Other parts of the building will be repurposed to add more Parliamentary space while preserving the original detailing and finishes.
The West Block plans and design were developed by Arcop and Fournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet et Associés as a joint venture. The plans and interventions are reviewed by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office and the National Capital Commission’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty.
Here is a snapshot of the West Block rehabilitation project.
- Scope: The complete rehabilitation of the building, and the construction of a permanent courtyard infill
- Project status: Construction started in January 2011, and building occupancy is planned for the opening session of Parliament in fall 2018
- Project cost: $863 million (excluding Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)). The overall budget is not limited to construction work. The budget includes:
- planning, professional and consultant fees
- architectural design fees
- demolition work
- abatement of hazardous materials
- seismic upgrades
- restoration of exterior masonry
- replacement of the windows and roof
- replacement of mechanical, electrical and life-safety systems
- modernization of information technology equipment and multimedia capabilities
- security measures
- fit-up of interior spaces
- risk, escalation and contingencies
- Job opportunities: The overall project is estimated to create or sustain approximately 5,000 jobs
- Design contract: Competitively awarded to Arcop/Fournier Gersovitz Moss & Associates in joint venture (1995)
- Construction management services contract: Competitively awarded to PCL Constructors Canada Inc. (Consult the contract history: contract number EP758-113490/001/FG)
Time lapse: rehabilitation of the West Block
This video shows nearly 4 years of rehabilitation work at the West Block in just over a minute.
Transcript of the rehabilitation of the West Block time-lapse video
Start of video.
(The video does not contain narration.)
(Throughout the video, images are shown in a time lapse from daybreak to nightfall through the changing seasons from September 2012 to late summer 2016.)
(A wide shot of the West Block’s west façade. The Centre Block's Peace Tower stands out prominently in the background.)
(2 seconds from the beginning, the camera zooms in towards the base of the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower, where scaffolding is installed. The camera then sweeps from left to right.)
(5 seconds from the beginning, a general shot shows white tarps being installed over scaffolding next to a heritage building. There are trucks and a crane in operation.)
(11 seconds from the beginning, a long shot of the West Block's Mackenzie Tower and then a zoom-in on scaffolding being installed along the tower. People are working there. The streets adjacent to the building can also be seen, as well as traffic moving along the streets.)
(32 seconds from the beginning, a close-up of the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower rooftop. The camera pans upwards as scaffolding is installed.)
(36 seconds from the beginning, a long shot of the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower. The camera pans downwards as white tarps over scaffolding cover the tower and cranes operate on each side. Cranes are operating in the surrounding area of the building. A close-up of the work is captured in the following shot.)
(39 seconds from the beginning, a close-up of the work. The camera pans slightly from left to right.)
(40 seconds from the beginning, a wide shot of the West Block’s west façade entirely covered by white tarps over scaffolding. Zoom-out shot of the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower as scaffolding is removed.)
(43 seconds from the beginning, a close-up of the West Block’s Mackenzie Tower rooftop. The camera pans downwards as scaffolding is removed.)
(46 seconds from the beginning, a close-up. The camera pans downwards as scaffolding is removed.)
(50 seconds from the beginning, a close-up. The camera pans from left to right as the white steel beams that will hold the glass roof of the House of Commons chamber, in the West Block’s courtyard infill, are installed.)
(53 seconds from the beginning, the camera slowly zooms out to a wide-angle shot of the West Block, revealing a west façade nearing the end of its rehabilitation.)
End of video.
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