With exhibition and collections space, reading rooms, creative centre, children’s area, a genealogy centre and café configured around a large town hall, the new facility will be a welcoming home for the stories of Ottawa residents and all Canadians.
Just as this partnership is a unique pairing, the design process itself represents an unprecedented public co-design process that asked residents, Indigenous communities, and Canadians from coast to coast to provide input and comment at every stage of design.
The reveal of the design of OPL-LAC Joint Facility illustrates the power of connections between institutions and the contributions of more than 4,000 people who came together to inspire all aspects of the design, inside and out
At four public workshops and with online feedback, major themes included creating an accessible, iconic destination, a place to spend time, not be merely transactional, with views, connection to nature and have a multitude of offerings and a mix of quiet and vibrant spaces.
The building’s design draws from Ottawa’s rich history and natural beauty with a dynamic form reminiscent of the nearby Ottawa River; the stone and wood exterior reflect the adjacent escarpment and surrounding greenspace on the western edge of downtown. The windows, top floors and rooftop offer unparalleled views of the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills in Quebec.
The location at a cultural crossroads of a route that traces the three founding peoples, French, English and Indigenous, underscores the spirit of confluence in the building’s design and the possibilities for these memory institutions in a modern facility to advance the Canadian story.
A very high standard of environmental sustainability, a minimum LEED Gold certification, was targeted and rated highly among the public’s recommendations. The joint facility has a Canadian budget of $193m and a total 216,000ft² across five floors. It is scheduled to open in 2024.