Video: Transforming the Government Conference Centre

Watch this video to discover how we transformed a former train station from the Government Conference Centre into the interim home of the Senate of Canada.

Transcript of Transforming the Government Conference Centre

Start of video

[Music plays]

(Text on screen: Restore)

[Pan of façade of the Government Conference Centre.]

[Barry Padolsky speaks.]

The Union Station like many railway stations in North America and Europe, it was intended to be monumental.

[Barry Padolsky speaking to camera.]

(Text on screen: Barry Padolsky, Heritage Consultant, Barry Padolsky Associates Inc. Architects)

I came from Winnipeg, after having graduated as an architect at the University of Manitoba. And so I took the train from Winnipeg to Ottawa and my experience in arriving in Ottawa was through this wonderful building that I never forgot.

[Barry looking at the interior of the government conference centre, transition to historic images of the train station.]

About 5 years after I arrived in Ottawa, there was the plan to demolish the Union Station. Thankfully it didn’t happen. I was very fortunate as a lover of Union Station to be engaged by Public Works to prepare a heritage conservation plan for the Government Conference Centre prior to its next use.

[Misty Campbell speaks.]

(Text on screen: Misty Campbell, Project Manager (Design), Parliamentary Precinct Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada)

[Misty Campbell speaking to camera.]

It was used as a train station until 1966, in which the decision at that time was to remove the rail lines out of the heart of the city and move them more to the suburbs. Luckily in 1967 it was the centennial year for Canada and so they decided not to tear it down because they didn’t want a big blank hole in downtown and from that point on it was basically used as a government conference centre, until we were lucky enough to be able to discover that the Senate needed a place to house the temporary chamber and we also needed to fix up this building. So the marrying of the two really created a wonderful opportunity to invest money into this building and the time it takes to renovate.

[Historic images of the train station alternating with present day interior and exterior footage, 3D renderings and overhead views of the Government Conference Centre.]

I don’t think people realize the environmental benefits of preserving heritage as well. Not having all that waste of demolishing a building going into the landfill. There was still so much original material here to work with, you know, it’s not something you would readily found anywhere anymore. The cornice details, the ceiling details, I mean, those things, the craftsmanship by hand that when into this building… it’s definitely not something you see now.

[Misty Campbell and Pubudu K. Herath shown discussing construction materials, alternating with interior footage of historic design attributes and Misty speaking to camera.]

[Barry Padolsky speaks.]

[Barry Padolsky speaking to camera, alternating with footage of Misty, Pubudu and Barry discussing the interior of the building and an image of the interior from the 1970s transitioning to images present day renovations and 3D renderings.]

The work that was done in the 1970s didn’t really respect the heritage attributes of the building, particularly the interior. A lot of the big spaces were chopped up there were interventions that were introduced like translation booths and that, that were kind of carbuncles that spoiled the interior. They put in a huge mezzanine in the concourse building which meant that you couldn’t see the vaulted ceiling. But all that was reversible and I’m thrilled that the architects and to the credit of Public Works, that they are working to enhance this building in a way, which I think, it deserves to be.

[Pubudu K. Herath speaks.]

[Pubudu K. Herath speaking to camera, alternating with footage of the different interior features of the building.]

(Text on screen: Pubudu K. Herath, Project Manager (Construction), Parliamentary Precinct Branch, Public Services and Procurement Canada)

When we took control over the building, the general waiting area was used as a conference center. We had to repurpose that entire area to add two new committee rooms, but also refinish the heritage plaster in the ceiling. We also had to make sure the building met the modern building codes. For example, we had to make sure that the building is accessible. Most importantly we had to make sure the building meets the new seismic codes.

[Misty Campbell speaks.]

[Misty Campbell speaking to the camera, alternating with interior footage and a photo montage of construction progress of the exterior of the building.]

When the building was built and used as Ottawa’s Union Station, it was really the epitome of a public building, and then after, when it did become a Government Conference Centre, unfortunately, most of the time it was pretty private. Now we have the opportunity again with the Senate coming and occupying the building, to open it back up for public tours and the public to enjoy the Senate chamber and to walk through the building and really get to see the building as well as see what the Senate does.

[Barry Padolsky speaks.]

[Barry speaking to camera, followed by interior images of the building.]

[Pan of the exterior rear of the Government Conference Centre, up to an overall view of the historic Parliamentary Precinct.]

Our Union Station in Ottawa is part of a pretty grand ensemble of buildings and squares that make the heart of the National Capital. So it’s a part that contributes to the sense of identity of our Capital and I think it plays its important part there.

(Text on screen: Public Services and Procurement Canada would like to acknowledge the contributions of Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc. and KWC Architects Inc. as well as to PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and all sub-contractors in the completion of this project.)

(Public Services and Procurement Canada signature)

(Music stops)

(Canada Wordmark)

End of video

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