July 19, 2018

Perkins+Will Reinvents Ottawa’s Bank of Canada

Canadian architect Arthur Erickson once said that architecture is “the art of composing spaces in response to existing environmental conditions.” Perkins+Will respected that ethos when redesigning Ottawa’s Bank of Canada building, originally built in the 1930’s and then updated in the 1970’s by Erickson. His design needed major upgrades to meet 21st-century standards and contemporary workplace needs. That’s where Perkins+Will came in, led by Andrew Frontini, Matt Johnston, and Joseph T. Connell. “While the original architecture remains largely untouched, employees and visitors now collaborate in a re-energized zone,” Frontini writes.

Triangular plaza forms are a combination of mirrored glass, bronze, granite, and perennial ground cover. Photography by Doublespace Photography.

Perkins+Will, in collaboration with landscape architect DTAH, was driven and inspired by Erickson’s vision of integrating architecture and landscape. In the plaza, new crystalline glass forms double as seating for the public. The plaza’s English slate was replaced with local granite that’s more resilient in harsh winters. The angular forms were also strategically positioned to buffer wind chill, so the plaza can be used year-round. Skylights connect the plaza with a museum.

Stadium seating at the museum entry is ash. Photography by Doublespace Photography.

Inside, Perkins+Will moved employee spaces away from private work areas and toward collaborative environments. They thought of it as liberating staff from their desks. The palette, meanwhile, nods to the hues of Erickson’s 1970’s design. Sometimes the past fits perfectly into the present.

Double-glazed glass with a mirrored layer was used for triangular plaza interventions. Photography by Doublespace Photography.
A work area looks out to the Ottawa River. Photography by Doublespace Photography.
The plaza is open to the public. Photography by Doublespace Photography.
Black granite clads the walls in an employee center. Photography by Doublespace Photography.

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