Welcome to the Senate of Canada Building, the Senate’s temporary home. Originally Ottawa’s central train station, this building served until recently as the Government Conference Centre. Extensive renovations have given this historic structure a new lease on life, thanks to the Senate.
The Senate’s permanent home, Parliament’s Centre Block, is undergoing its first major rehabilitation since the building’s opening in 1920.
There had been a proposal to build an interim Senate Chamber in the courtyard of the East Block building. Instead, senators saw an opportunity to make their home in the neglected Government Conference Centre. That decision accelerated the building’s restoration while saving taxpayers approximately $200 million.
THE EVOLUTION OF A LANDMARK
AN EXPLORATION OF THE BUILDING:
INSIDE & OUT
Classic and contemporary design meet in this state-of-the-art facility.
Looking at the building, you can still see the grandeur of the early 20th-century style. The newly-built east façade, featuring a five-storey colonnade of limestone pillars and glass panels, follows conservation guidelines by remaining identifiable as a 21st-century addition. It complements the building’s original Beaux-Arts exterior without imitating it.
From barrier-free entrances to tactile signage and universal washrooms with changing tables, the building was renovated in a way that ensures all senators, staff and visitors can easily function in the space. It features a continuous, barrier-free path to provide easy access throughout the building. Visitors watching proceedings from the public galleries are offered wheelchair and adaptable seating.
Energy-efficient technologies are integrated wherever they do not compromise the building’s heritage character. Environmentally-friendly initiatives include a green roof, interior and exterior low-voltage LED lighting and all new plumbing with water-saving fixtures. The Senate of Canada Building has earned three Green Globes, a prestigious, internationally-recognized certification for improving the sustainability of this heritage building.
This monumental hall forms a giant well of light at the centre of the building through which tour groups, visitors and senators pass on their way to the Red Chamber. Restored Beaux-Arts features are visual reminders of the building’s history.
Historic train station bench returns home
Take a seat and reflect on more than 100 years of history around, above and even beneath you. One of 12 mahogany benches that originally sat here when the building was a train station has returned. The Canada Science and Technology Museum graciously donated it from its collection to the Senate.
The Senate Chamber, or the “Red Chamber” as it is sometimes called, is where senators representing all of Canada’s regions meet to debate legislation and issues of importance to Canadians.
SECURITY SCREENING AT THE SENATE
WHAT TO EXPECT
If you are visiting the Senate or are here on parliamentary business, you will need to go through security screening.
This short video will let you know what you can expect.
PARLIAMENT HILL’S REHABILITATION
Centre Block renewal takes centre stage
Built immediately after a fire destroyed the original structure in 1916, Centre Block is one of Canada’s most iconic buildings. It is the permanent home of the Senate and House of Commons. The soaring Peace Tower is immediately recognizable and has become an important symbol of Canada. Except for the Library of Parliament, Centre Block has undergone no major renovations since its opening in 1920.
Renovating the Senate’s original home
The restoration and modernization of Centre Block is expected to take at least 10 years, beginning in 2019.
This is the largest, most ambitious heritage rehabilitation project ever seen in Canada.
VIRTUAL TOUR: EXPERIENCE THE SENATE IN CENTRE BLOCK
You didn’t get the chance to visit the Senate’s permanent Chamber? While Centre Block is under renovation, visit its Red Chamber and explore the art and architecture through the Senate’s virtual tour.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BUILDING
Want more information about the Senate of Canada Building? You will find articles about the construction process, special features on art and artifacts, and a detailed history of the building.