Bank of Canada HQ, Ottawa, Canada

Monday 26 Mar 2018
Credit: doublespace photography

Architects: Perkins + Will

A Canadian classic

Perkins+Will have revitalized a proud piece of Canada’s architectural heritage

In the heart of Canada’s capital the iconic Bank of Canada stands bold in Ottawa’s Parliamentary District. Perkins+Will revitalized a proud piece of Arthur Erickson’s architectural heritage by creating a reenergised workplace and world-class headquarters for the Bank. Modernising Erickson’s legacy, the revitalization thoughtfully injected a new era of sustainability, energy efficiency, data and seismic technology inside the workplace, bank building and mirrored twin towers.

Juxtaposing architecture and skyline, dramatic crystalline triangles rise from below, proudly animating the parliamentary district. Perkins+Will transformed the public realm framing the site into a vibrant new landmark and gathering space. As a gift to Ottawa, the Bank of Canada Currency Museum was moved from inside the Bank to an accessible public space below the landscaped plaza, drawing pedestrians in.

Introducing a contemporary architectural vocabulary, the new civic plaza vividly animates the intersection at Wellington and Bank Street, signaling a shift in design for Ottawa. Reflecting central themes from Erickson’s work, a continuity of landscape, from exterior to interior, guided material selection. Dark bronze metal and angled glass inspired by Erickson’s chamfered glass towers, and green -black granite sourced from Quebec are a nod to Erickson’s original design.

Perkins+Will thoughtfully restored Erickson’s original vision for the Winter Garden atrium, while bringing currency to the Bank’s workplace. The abundance of natural light and views make it a vital space for employees. The renewal project transforms the atrium’s underutilized real estate into a secure, collaborative nucleus for the Bank. Interior foliage references both Erickson’s love of the Canadian landscape and enhances a workplace culture that promotes wellness. Original heritage architecture remains largely untouched. Employees and visitors now collaborate in a re-energized zone with a landscape of curated vignettes for both planned and spontaneous meetings. This new active work hub is further animated by an exterior pathway that creates a visual connection between the Bank, civic plaza, and city beyond.

Answering a mandate to foster collaborative culture, the design solution confidently moves away from private workspaces to an open environment. Design in tandem with leadership reinvigorated both operations and workplace culture. Interior modifications consciously drive a future-thinking workplace. Flexible, non-typical spaces create movement and cost efficiencies in building operations. Access to a variety of flexible, technology-enabled workspaces not only liberate staff from their desks, but also signifies an employer responding to the needs of a new generation of talent. An essential strategy in today’s highly-competitive marketplace.

In the rapid pace of a connected business world, teamwork is essential. Interiors that encourage face-to-face connections enable knowledge exchange in the workplace. Designing spaces that encourage these interactions is central to both increased productivity and a more engaged workforce. Creating highly flexible and collaborative spaces that can transform as business needs evolve is essential for the future of work.

Inside the iconic towers, Perkins+Will executed system-wide upgrades targeting LEED Gold to align the facility with modern sustainability mandates. Maintaining the visual integrity of the historic façade, a dynamic buffer zone was installed by laying a second skin of glass 18” inside the building envelope. Increasing occupant comfort, this solution supports modern technology, while downsizing mechanical ductwork, leaving the original architecture intact. New energy-efficient and cost-saving systems were invisibly layered into Erickson’s signature exposed concrete structure, resulting in a more efficient building and increasing overall energy performance by 40%. Open-plan spaces, modular furniture and sit-stand desks, create variety of ‘me, we and us’ workspaces. The renewal invisibly integrates power and data for 21st century digital technologies, as well as seismic strengthening of the original structure.

Interconnected spaces on the main floor and the level below, allow the Bank to create a new destination for conferences and events in Canada’s capital city. The latest technology, together with adjacent lounges and integrated food and beverage service, provides support to a wide variety of meeting spaces.

Nick Myall

News editor