Fast+EPP National Arts Centre Rejuvenation

A Canada 150 project, the National Arts Centre Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal project represents the first significant capital investment in the National Arts Centre since its opening in 1969. As one of Canada's Centennial projects, the National Arts Centre provides a national venue for Canada's arts and culture sector, specifically in the realm of the performing arts.

Led by architects Diamond Schmitt and structural engineers, Fast + Epp, the scope for the project included three new connected wings, two new floors of lobby, cultural programming enclosed by a custom glass curtain wall, a grand staircase, and a hexagonal tower overlooking the Rideau Canal. It sought to re-orient the entry of the building to connect the centre to the flow of downtown Ottawa. It also recaptured significant exterior terrace space and brought it inside to make it available year round. The new space offers spectacular views of the Parliamentary Precinct and makes the Centre a welcoming public space.

Fast + Epp’s experiences with similarly high-profile projects meant the team was well prepared to take on a project of such scope, despite its challenging schedule. Working in close collaboration with the design-builder, StructureCraft, Fast + Epp developed a heavy timber structure and a glass-and-steel curtain wall to wrap the structure’s north side, as well as triangular glulam coffers that would be prefabricated off-site with integrated mechanical, electrical and sprinkler systems. Integration significantly sped-up construction times and protected the timber from harsh weather – the roof was installed in just three weeks. They provided site engineering services at key stages of the project and helped to develop a seamless collaboration between the NAC, general contractors and structural trade contractors.

All this work was done within the context of maintaining one of the busiest production schedules in North America. The National Arts Centre stages approximately 1300 shows, performances and events annually. The two projects represented an opportunity for artists, theatre production teams, specialized technical trades, engineers and architects to work together on a project of national significance and in an atmosphere of true collaboration and connection. Fast+ Epp's structural design embodies function and beauty. The engineers' finesse of the coffer and column system brought to life the architectural homage to the original building plan geometry, enabled concurrent M&E system fit-up during pre-assembly and was the key factor in achieving an aggressive construction schedule.

​Fast+ Epp have made a significant contribution to an important Canadian institution and to an important and vibrant part of Canada's built heritage.