A new steel-and-glass structure for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.

2,485sqm

triple-glazed curved glass roof

938t

steelwork for roof and columns

2,554sqm

laylight glazing

west block rehabilitation project

Preserving traditional architecture without having to forgo the up-to-date building infrastructure of the 21st century – that was the principle behind the full modernisation of the famous neo-Gothic ensemble of the Canadian Parliament. A striking curving glass roof was built over the central courtyard of the West Block so that it can serve as a temporary chamber for the Canadian House of Commons. With such a large area of glass, elaborate light, shade and heat management is needed so that MPs can enjoy ideal working conditions without glare or disagreeable temperatures.
seele was turning the architects’ exacting creative and building physics concepts into reality, and was also responsible for designing and installing the columns and roof elements.

  • In terms of its construction, the roof pursues the idea of preservation because it is totally separate from the existing building, floats, as it were, above the essentially unchanged courtyard façades. The loads are carried via modern steel structures, their delicate, branching form reminiscent of trees. Large acoustic panels fitted between the “branches” ensure good room acoustics. The triple-glazing units chosen for the upper, i.e. outer, glazing guarantee optimum thermal performance in winter. Below the load bearing structure, laylights form a second layer of glazing. Glass in various colours here plus movable louvres to control the incoming light determine the lighting in the chamber.

    Four mock-ups were built to assist the design work. The largest of these measured 7.5m x 12m and replicated a complete corner of the roof including drainage and the junction with the building. This mock-up was subjected to a thermal cycling test, which verifies the imperviousness of the design even under extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations.

  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
  • A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.
A floating new roof structure in steel and glass for the West Block, Ottawa made by seele.

project diary

Installation progress at West Block

The installation at the West Block in Ottawa started in 2016. In any wind and weather structural steel work, the domed, glazed roof and the laylight glazing were installed in order to complete the courtyard glazing according to the installation schedule.

  • 14/09/2018
  • 28/03/2018
  • 15/11/2017
  • 31/08/2017
  • 12/07/2017
  • 05/07/2017
  • 05/07/2017
  • 04/05/2017
  • 29/03/2017
  • 21/02/2017
  • 15/02/2017
  • 01/12/2016
  • 01/10/2016
  • 01/09/2016

14/09/2018

During the last months the completion of several construction parts was accomplished, such as the connection beteween the roof and the existing building. In autumn 2018, seele's team left the site after successful practical completion.
14/09/2018

28/03/2018

Recently, seele finalised the installation and programming of the operable louvres and roller shades. Herewith, another milestone of the project has passed. Also interior construction works of other trades proceed quickly.
28/03/2018

15/11/2017

The last sections of the glass roof were sealed with silicone this week. Also most of the so called bullnose panels are already installed.
15/11/2017

31/08/2017

The last one of 92 acoustic panels is installed. The up to 1.5t heavy panels were produced at seele Germany and then shipped to Canada together with a special crane in order to be installed on site.
31/08/2017

12/07/2017

The first laylight glazing elements are installed already and the installation of the huge acoustic panels will commence within the next days.
12/07/2017

05/07/2017

Installation of the service catwalk is completed, too.
05/07/2017

05/07/2017

Almost all components of the outer roof construction are installed and sealing works can start.
05/07/2017

04/05/2017

52 days after the installation of the first glass pane the last piece was installed today successfully. During the following weeks seele will install the secondary and primary sealings.
04/05/2017

29/03/2017

Glass installation on site is proceeding since March. Depending on the weather 15 - 45 glass panes are installed per day.
29/03/2017

21/02/2017

Canadian comedian Rick Mercer assisted the seele team with the installation of the first glass pane. The video was broadcasted as part of his "Mercer Report" on TV.
21/02/2017

15/02/2017

In mid-February, seele’s aluminium construction for the roofing was completed.
15/02/2017

01/12/2016

In order to continue installation under extreme weather conditions, tons of snow had to be cleared from the roof.
01/12/2016

01/10/2016

In order to facilitate roofworks, seele installed a netting system. The seele project Brookfield Place, Calgary was the first ever approval in Canada for this type of system.
01/10/2016

01/09/2016

The last steel beam of the 938t primary steel structure was installed with a small topping out ceremony.
01/09/2016

Special assistance for installing first pane of glass

On 21 February the Canadian Comedian Rick Mercer visited the West Block to make a film for his “Rick Mercer Report” comedy series and helped the various trades carry out their work, including the seele employees. Together with the erection personnel and Site Superintendent Marvin Sommerfeld, he mounted the first glass element on the roof structure and signed the steelwork underneath.

Credits

Client PWGSC – Public Works and Government Services CAN
Main contractor PCL Constructors Canada Inc.
Architect ARCOP/FGMDA
Engineer Ojdrovic + Cooke, Engineers
Date of completion 2018
Scope of seele supply

Development, 3D design, testing, production and installation of elements

  • 2,485sqm triple-glazed curved glass roof
  • 938t steelwork for roof and tree columns
  • 2,554sqm laylight glazing under roof
  • 871sqm movable louvres
  • 1,813sqm open-grid flooring for service catwalk at roof level
  • 925sqm acoustic panels
  • 208sqm mock-ups
Awards
  • ENR 2019 Global Best Projects Winners (award of merit under the rehabilitation and restoration category)