National Gallery of Canada

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 1988

The National Gallery of Canada houses 132,700 square feet of galleries as well as facilities for educational programs, conservation, art storage, and administration. The design takes advantage of a prominent waterfront site overlooking Parliament. A gently ramped colonnade leads from the main entrance on Sussex Drive to the Great Hall with sweeping views of Parliament Hill and the Ottawa River. From the Great Hall, the promenade forms a second axis leading to the Rotunda. All galleries are entered from either the Great Hall or the Rotunda. Beyond the Rotunda, a continuation of the axis of the promenade leads to the separate curatorial wing, connected to the main building by bridges at each principal level. The large areas of exhibition space are organized into legible groups of galleries, each with an individual character appropriate to its relationship to the collection. A clear sense of orientation in the galleries is achieved by framed views of the exterior, and sequence of movement between public spaces and courtyards of the building. Glazed promenades and crystalline pavilions enclose public assembly and circulation spaces. Light from the three courtyards is filtered into adjacent galleries, while a series of special skylight systems offers controlled natural light throughout the gallery spaces. The upper level galleries are lit by traditional skylights, while the lower levels are illuminated by a system of shafts lined with reflective material, bouncing light deep into interior spaces including the Canadian collection on the lower two gallery floors. In the Great Hall, a series of nylon sails, working in concert with supplemental lighting, offer control of lighting, acoustics and atmosphere. The building is clad in grey and pink granite from Tadoussac, Quebec. The glazed roof of the Great Hall and other public spaces are landmarks in the Ottawa skyline, juxtaposed with the Gothic forms of the Library of Parliament and the Notre-Dame Basilica.

Project Type: Museum

Client: Canada Museums Construction Corporation

Cost: C $123 million

Size: 600000