Video: Centre Block project construction update

Watch this video to see the work being done on the Centre Block to restore and modernize this Canadian icon. We released the video in spring 2021. It includes an update on the project and work completed up to winter 2020.

Transcript of Centre Block project construction update

Start of video

[Music plays]

(Text on screen: Public Services and Procurement Canada.)

(Text on screen: Some of this footage was recorded prior to the Government of Canada’s physical distancing guidelines. Canadians are encouraged to continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.)

[Shot of the Centre Block.]

[Close-up shot of one of the West Block towers, with Canadian flag waving in the wind.]

Canada’s largest ever heritage restoration project is underway: the rehabilitation of the Parliamentary Precinct.

[Shot of Parliament buildings, including Peace Tower and Library of Parliament.]

[Shot of East Block building with scaffolding and white protective wrapping.]

Public Services and Procurement Canada, in partnership with the Senate, the House of Commons, the Library of Parliament and Parliamentary Protective Service, is carrying out this impressive renovation.

[Wide shot of Centre and West Blocks with construction activity taking place in front of the Centre Block. Video pans to show the Parliament lawn and Wellington Street.]

[Drone shot of the Peace Tower with city of Gatineau in the foreground.]

The Parliamentary Precinct is made up of 35 buildings, which include among others: The Centre Block.

[Shot of the back of Centre Block from across the Ottawa River.]

[Drone shot from above looking down at the Centre Block.]

After a century of serving Canada and Canadians, the Centre Block, our main Parliament Building, is in need of a complete overhaul.

[Shot of Centre Block with Canadian flag waving in the wind.]

[Close-up shot of the clock on the Peace Tower.]

[Shot of the East Block with scaffolding and white protective wrapping.]

Our objective is to preserve this important piece of our nation’s history for generations to come and to modernize it to meet the evolving needs of a modern parliamentary democracy.

[Overhead graphic of Parliament Hill and surrounding buildings. Blue arrows show the various moves for the rehabilitation project.]

For over a decade, Public Services and Procurement Canada has been delivering a complex sequence of projects and moves throughout the Parliamentary Precinct.

[Close-up shot of stone and windows on the West Block.]

[Shot of West Block towers and roof.]

[Shot of two workers in safety vests, hard hats and face masks working on the removal of a chandelier.]

[Shot of a worker standing on a ladder vacuuming the chains of the chandelier.]

[Shot of a worker adjusting the chandelier while two other workers stand nearby.]

This sequence of projects restored and modernized a number of important heritage buildings and enabled us to empty the Centre Block so that it could undergo its much needed overhaul, all without interrupting parliamentary operations.

[Wide shot of Centre Block.]

[Shot of a worker rolling a large piece of wood on a dolly down a hallway under construction. Another worker is standing down the hallway.]

[Shot of two workers wearing protective equipment stand in a room with exposed bricks.]

[Shot of worker examining and touching the exposed brick wall.]

Since 2006, PSPC has completed 28 major projects that have been key to restoring important heritage buildings in our nation’s capital and enabling us to start the work on Centre Block.

[Shot of plaster ceiling with plywood in place of stained-glass windows.]

[Shot of Bank of Montréal building.]

(Text on screen: Completed in 2015.)

[Shot of a green plant wall in the lobby of the Wellington building.]

(Text on screen: Completed in 2016.)

[Shot of exterior of the Visitor Welcome Centre.]

(Text on screen: Completed in 2018.)

[Shot of the staircase and lobby of the Senate of Canada Building.]

(Text on screen: Completed in 2018.)

[Shot of the exterior of the West Block.]

(Text on screen: Completed in 2018.)

They include: the Sir John A. Macdonald Building, the Wellington Building, the Visitor Welcome Centre, the Senate of Canada Building and the West Block.

[Shot of the Peace Tower.]

Parliament moved out of the Centre Block in 2019 and major work launched in 2020.

[Shot of scaffolding inside the Centre Block.]

[Shot of exterior of the Centre Block with construction vehicles and metal fences in front.]

[Shot of a hallway inside the Centre Block with orange pylons around the space.]

[Shot of worker in protective equipment touching a monitor.]

[Shot of skylight windows.]

[Close-up shot of two people walking. One person is holding a white cane and passing it over tactile warnings on the floor.]

Now fully underway, the rehabilitation of Centre Block will restore this beautiful and elegant building to ensure it is supported by modern systems, and that it is greener, safer and more accessible.

[Shot of exterior of Centre Block with construction activity in front of the building.]

Let’s take a look at some of the work we’ve accomplished so far.

[Close-up shot of the clock on the Peace Tower.]

[Shot of the interior of the Visitor Welcome Centre.]

[Shot of a man and woman walking in the Visitor Welcome Centre. The man is walking with a white cane.]

[Shot of two women walking in the Visitor Welcome Centre.]

[Shot of the escalator, stairs and benches inside the Visitor Welcome Centre.]

The modernization of the Centre Block includes the construction of the Parliament Welcome Centre. To improve the visitor’s experience and enhance security, a new, fully accessible Welcome Centre now greets visitors to the West Block, where it meets with the House of Commons. This is phase one of the project.

[Drawing of the Visitor Welcome Centre linking to the West, Centre and East Blocks.]

The second phase of this underground facility will stretch across to link the West, Centre and East Blocks into an integrated parliamentary complex.

[Shot of construction outside the Centre Block.]

[Shot of the Centre Block with yellow highlighted section of the Vaux Wall.]

[Shot of metal crates filled with stones of the dismantled Vaux Wall.]

[Close-up shot of one of the stones with an identification number written in chalk.]

[Shot of three workers putting a stone on a wooden skid.]

[Shot of the Centre Block with construction vehicles in front.]

To prepare for the construction of phase two of the Parliament Welcome Centre, the historic Vaux Wall was carefully catalogued, dismantled and stored for safekeeping so that it can be reinstated in the location where it stood before.

[Shot from the excavation site with construction vehicles and blasting mats.]

[Shot of construction vehicle lifting blasting mats.]

[Shot of excavation site with rock and blasting mats.]

[Close-up shot of blasting mats at an excavation site on Parliament hill. The mats raise during a blast.]

Excavation is already well underway and is expected to finish in 2022. By the end of excavation approximately 40,000 truck-loads of rock will have been removed and recycled for use in road construction.

[Wide-angle shot of Centre Block and the East Block with construction activity in front of the buildings.]

[Close-up shot of the Peace Tower.]

Before rock excavation and controlled blasting began, more than 300 devices to closely monitor vibration were installed in a number of buildings within the Precinct, including the Centre Block and Peace Tower.

[Close-up shot of the Library of Parliament roof.]

[Shot of decorative wood element in the Library of Parliament with bookshelves in the background.]

[Shot of empty bookshelves in the Library of Parliament.]

[Shot of windows and empty bookshelves in the Library of Parliament.]

[Shot of empty bookshelves in the Library of Parliament.]

While the beautiful Library of Parliament had to be closed because of the major construction, all of its collections have been carefully relocated to Library branch locations across the Parliamentary Precinct and to the Library’s facility across the river in Gatineau. Parliamentarians continue to have access to these valuable resources.

[Shot of scaffolding inside the House of Commons.]

[Shot of worker in hazardous material suit spray material on the ceiling. A large white tarp covers most of the wall.]

(Text on screen: Demolition and abatement will continue until the end of 2021.)

Inside the Centre Block, demolition and the abatement of hazardous materials is underway to take the building down to its bones.

[Shot of an interior hallway in the abatement process covering marble floors and walls.]

[Shot of an interior room stripped down to steel beams and bricks.]

[Shot of an interior room stripped down to old bricks on the walls and ceiling. A worker points to parts of the space.]

Rows of offices once stood along this corridor; now it is a blank canvas as workers prepare to solidify the structure, integrate new building systems and rebuild into modern office spaces.

[Shot of room with large wooden crates and chairs stacked to the side. A worker in protective equipment walks around the space.]

[Close-up shot of old terra-cotta bricks and tiles on a ceiling.]

The walls and floors were stripped back to the bricks and terra cotta tiles.

[Shot of detailed wood and marble pieces labelled and laid out on Styrofoam on a floor.]

[Shot of room with large wooden crates.]

[Shot of light fixtures laid out on a blue tarp.]

Wood and marble have been carefully removed, crated and stored, so they can be later reinstated.

[Shot of room with murals on the wall and large chandelier. Large wooden crates and tools are also being stored in the space.]

Finding the right balance between heritage protection and modernization is one of the greatest complexities of this project.

[Shot from up on scaffolding panning to show a large chandelier.]

[Shot of a piece of plaster artwork on the wall.]

[Close-up shot of cast-iron pieces.]

We have carefully assessed the numerous heritage assets and decided if it was better to remove or protect them and restore them in their place.

[Shot of plaster artwork in large open space.]

[Close-up shot of art detail on column.]

[Close-up shot of stone artwork.]

[Shot of plaster artwork and Canadian flag stained-glass window.]

To help keep track of all these heritage assets, rooms have been digitally scanned and mapped.

[Shot of worker using a device to digitally scan a piece of stone.]

This will allow for the virtual recreation of these spaces so that they can all be put back together.

[Close-up shot of a building information model.]

[Close-up shot of a computer-generated model of cross-section of interior floors.]

(Text on screen: BIM = Building Information Model.)

Known as BIM, these models not only serve as a record of the heritage elements but are essential tools in the design process.

[Shot of wood detail on the wall.]

[Shot of stone artwork of the provincial coat of arms.]

[Wide shot of the interior of the Senate chamber.]

[Wide shot of the interior of the House of Commons chamber.]

Some of the Centre Block’s most precious heritage assets can be found in two of the building’s centrepiece spaces: the Senate and the House of Commons chambers.

[Shot of chandelier and viewing gallery inside the Senate chamber.]

[Shot of two workers vacuuming a large cast-iron chandelier.]

[Close-up shot of two workers vacuuming a large cast-iron chandelier.]

[Shot of workers looking at a large cast-iron chandelier.]

Inside the Senate, two massive cast bronze chandeliers, weighing approximately 3,400 pounds each, were carefully dismantled before being lowered to the Chamber floor.

[Shot of scaffolding and stained-glass windows.]

[Shot of the Diamond Jubilee stained-glass window.]

A number of stained glass windows have also been carefully removed, including the Senate’s Diamond Jubilee window and the Memorial Chamber stained glass windows.

[Close-up shot of a worker removing a piece of stained-glass window.]

[Shot of the Truth and Reconciliation stained-glass window.]

In the House of Commons, intricate work was done by experts to remove the stunning Truth and Reconciliation window in the foyer and the hand painted linen ceiling panels in the chamber.

[Wide shot of the linen ceiling in the House of Commons.]

[Close-up shot of three maple leafs on the linen ceiling.]

[Close-up shot of the Prince Edward Island coat of arms.]

These heritage pieces will go through a careful conservation process until they are ready to return to Centre Block.

[Shot of murals on the wall.]

[Shot of worker removing a mural from a wall.]

[Shot of worker in front of a mural on a wall.]

[Shot of worker removing a mural from a wall.]

On the Senate side of the building, murals have been taken down. They will be restored and carefully stored until they are also ready to return to Centre Block.

[Shot of plaster moulds on the floor.]

[Shot of two workers spraying casts material on plaster ceiling carving details.]

[Close-up shot of plaster moulds.]

For pieces too delicate to be removed, such as plaster ceilings and carvings, conservators have created moulds, and have protected them, prior to being carefully restored.

[Close-up shot of the outside of an electrical box.]

[Shot of electric fire pump controller.]

[Shot of an air circulation system.]

Even before starting the major construction work, significant effort was required to take the Centre Block off the parliamentary grid. In other words, we had to remove all IT, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems.

[Shot of a system monitor for the Centre Block.]

[Close-up shot of ventilation units.]

[Shot of room with wood panels on the wall and wooden detail.]

For the duration of the project, temporary systems are in place to ensure power is supplied and temperature and humidity levels can be regulated to protect the building’s heritage fabric.

[Shot of large white pipes.]

[Close-up shot of a fire safety system.]

[Shot of mechanical room with large pipes.]

A major part of the modernization aspect of the project will be to integrate new and modern IT, electrical, and mechanical systems to meet Parliament’s 21st century operational needs and to transform it into a carbon neutral facility.

[Close-up shot of a fire safety system.]

[Close-up shot of a cabling system with red arrow pointing to the cable.]

[Pan shot of a heat sensor laser in the House of Commons.]

[Close-up shot of a heat and smoke sensor.]

Fire safety and prevention during construction have always been a priority. We have installed a sensitive cabling system that is set off by heat. In the Senate and House of Commons chambers, lasers are also employed to monitor for the presence of smoke.

[Shot of two workers lowering a war painting.]

[Shot of workers rolling up a painting on a large tube in the Senate chamber.]

[Close-up shot of the Centennial flame.]

[Shot of column in the corridor of the Centre Block.]

[Close-up shot of cast-iron décor.]

[Close-up shot of stone artwork on the wall.]

[Shot of worker using a tool on a lowered painting.]

[Shot of two workers working on a lowered painting.]

[Shot of decorative wall.]

The iconic heritage elements that depict the story of Canada are being painstakingly restored to their former glory while at the same time modern infrastructure is being integrated so the Centre Block will be carbon neutral, universally accessible, safer and more secure, as well as being fully equipped for the digital age.

[Shot of Centre Block with excavation site in front of the building.]

[Close-up shot of the Peace Tower and Canadian flag waving in front of it.]

The major work being undertaken now will ensure the Centre Block will continue serving Canada and Canadians into the 21st century and beyond.

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[Music stops]

(Public Services and Procurement Canada signature)

(Canada Wordmark)

End of video

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