The Senate of Canada is on the move. The historic chamber located within the century-old Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa will be undergoing a decade-long renovation that is also forcing elected members of parliament to the West Block as work is carried out. Senators meanwhile will be heading across the street to a refurbished former train station that was nearly demolished in the 1960s.
Completed in 1912, the building was most recently known as the Government Conference Centre. Its new use as the interim home of the Senate of Canada required an overhaul of the space, overseen by Diamond Schmitt Architects in joint venture with KWC Architects. A new Senate Chamber, three committee rooms, and offices for the Senate Administration and Senate Leadership are now located inside.
"Canadians can be proud of the utmost care and diligence taken in restoring Ottawa's former Union Station for generations to come," said Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility. "This building was once a point of entry to Ottawa for tourists, new Canadians and visitors. It is only fitting that it has been revitalized into a safer, greener and more accessible space that will allow the public to see the important work of Canada's Senate."
The temporary Senate Chamber, the same size as the traditional room in Centre Block, was built on the location of the former train station's concourse. The design emphasizes the room's high ceilings and signature heritage skylight. The building's general waiting room is modelled after the waiting room in New York City's Pennsylvania Station, which was demolished in the 1960s. The exterior has also received a facelift—the east side of the building had remained unadorned when the neighbouring structure was demolished, and a new addition now pays respect to the original Beaux-Arts style of the building.
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