Government of Canada Visitor Welcome Centre, Ottawa

IBI Group Architects / Moriyama & Teshima Architects

Photography by James Brittain

The Visitor Welcome Centre is a two-level underground complex serving as the new entrance to Parliament Hill. Its purpose is to improve security and enhance circulation among buildings on the historic site. A sense of grandeur is evoked through a modern interpretation of vaulted ceiling forms that introduce lightness and verticality within the constraints of restricted underground floor heights. The white plaster vaults, honed Danby marble-clad columns, Adair limestone walls, bright terrazzo flooring, white oak finishes and bronze accents reflect the limited amount of natural light. Upon entering, visitors enter a cross-vaulted entry hall with security screening facilities. Visitor spaces are easy to navigate thanks to overlooks and glass walls allowing glimpses into the rooms ahead, floor-to-ceiling windows and bronze filigree screens with views to the concourse level below. The marble columns’ pleated profile reduces their visual weight while accentuating the spring point of the vaults. This language of pleating, relating the parts to the whole, reappears in the chiseled stone frames of the exterior arches, the bronze stair handrails and millwork.