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A dramatic new finish for a century-old landmark
A dramatic new finish for a century-old landmark
December 28, 2017
HOW & WHY

As the Senate of Canada prepares to move into the Government Conference Centre — Ottawa’s former train station — heritage-restoration artists have been using creative techniques to imitate the look of the building’s original faux-marble walls.

Preserving the building’s architectural features has been an important part of the historic property’s transformation into a temporary home for the Senate of Canada, artifact conservator Daniela Kolbach said.

Making the original walls look the way they did in 1912, when the Grand Trunk Railway opened its station in Canada’s capital, is one example of the kind of restoration work being done in the months before the move.

“In consultation with architects, we devised a scheme that would imitate what was originally here,” Kolbach said.

 

The building’s columns, ceilings and walls were made of plaster and painted to look exactly like the prized travertine stone used in ancient Roman monuments. Restoration consultants and architects came up with a plan to revitalize the scuffed and chipped century-old plaster. A team of restoration specialists began the painstaking work in the autumn of 2017.

“All the walls are divided into tiles. And each tile is treated separately and painted in such a way to make it look like they’re cut from two different stones,” Kolbach said.

For Kolbach, who became a Canadian citizen in 2017, working on the transformation of one of Canada’s houses of Parliament is a “special and unique project.”


This article is part of a series about the Senate of Canada’s move to the Government Conference Centre. In 2018, the Senate will relocate to the conference centre, a former train station built in 1912 while Parliament’s Centre Block – the Senate’s permanent home – is rehabilitated.

With preparations to convert the historic train station into the temporary Senate on budget, the savings to taxpayers will be approximately $200 million compared to the original proposal to find an alternative location on Parliament Hill.

The Senate is expected to occupy its temporary location for 10 years.

Daniela Kolbach, an artifact conservator working on the rehabilitation of the Government Conference Centre, is one of the specialists helping to restore many of the century-old property’s original architectural features.

Many of the original architectural features of the Government Conference Centre, originally constructed in 1912 as Ottawa’s train station, are being painstakingly restored. The Senate of Canada is scheduled to occupy the historic building for 10 years, beginning in September 2018. (Library and Archives Canada)