Friday, June 30, 2017

Drawing The Curtain On The NAC

I did a guest post for Molly Jo about Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation, which was posted yesterday, so go on over and check it out.

I have for the last few months been documenting the work at the National Arts Centre, where a glass structure has been added onto the building, softening the Brutalist architecture. You can find the previous post here. This is the last of the series, because tomorrow, that area is due to open to the public for Canada Day. I visited the NAC this past Sunday for some photos in this series. This view from the Mackenzie King Bridge takes in the NAC as it overlooks the Rideau Canal.

I went inside. A performance was going on in one of the halls here, but the lobby was open. The building has continued to hold performances throughout the project, and what work is still going on here seems to be clean up, as the bulk of the equipment outside was gone. There are two spots inside the building that are to be done by winter, such as the expansion of the Fourth Stage performance space, but almost all of that work is now confined to the interior.

I stepped into Southam Hall, the largest of the performance halls in the building. From the look of things, it seemed stage hands were getting ready for a performance later in the day.

I returned to the lobby, where I photographed this new addition to the space, a large hanging shimmering of light that looks like a cloud. Someone was posing beneath it. If this is a permanent addition in here, it's going to be popular for photo ops.

Back outside, here's a look around the glass structure, which has transformed the building's sense of itself. I look forward to being in here tomorrow, as it is tradition to have a Canada Day concert here in the evening.

Much of what was going on here was that last minute work before the last of the construction fencing could come down. I plan on showing you material from in here during my Canada Day series- I had better make sure I've charged up the batteries and have a spare charger or two with me!

This poster is outside, near where the Oscar Peterson sculpture stands. There's a concert in July celebrating the great Canadian jazz legend here at the NAC. Canada Scene (or Scene Canada en Francais) is a month long series of concerts presently underway.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Showstopper Space

Yesterday I showed you one former bank on Sparks Street that has been converted into government space. This is another example, one that I've shown you the exterior of before. The Bank Of Montreal established this Beaux-Arts beauty here in 1930 as a main branch for the bank in the city, right across from Parliament Hill. The bank left these quarters in 2005, and has since established a new main branch a short walk away. The government has made the building into a conference and reception center accessible from both Wellington Street and Sparks Street, and named it in honour of our first Prime Minister. The Sir John A. Macdonald Building was first opened for Doors Open last year, but I missed getting in, so this year I made sure to stop in. It is definitely a showstopper inside.

The stairs that lead down to the Sparks Street level also lead to the vault, which today is used as a conference space. The vault door itself is still there, and it is thick.

One final space I wanted to show was the bank manager's office back in the day, and this fireplace is in it. 

The building is a beauty, inside and out, and generally speaking, Doors Open is the only time the public will get in. I can definitely see its value for receptions and conferences, so it was well worth the effort for the government to transform it into this new use.

This final view takes in the building from the Sparks Street side. I will return to the Doors Open series after the beginning of the month, as I still have other sites to cover.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Library In The Bank

This is a regular location for Doors Open, located on Sparks Street, a block south of Parliament Hill, which features prominently in its current use. Built as the main Ottawa branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia in the Beaux-Arts style, it dates to 1924. The building is now one of the annex spaces for the Library Of Parliament, which has turned the interior into an archive, blending older architecture with new infrastructure. It's usually only accessible to Parliamentary staffers, so Doors Open is ideal to have a peek inside.

The visitor first comes into what was the manager's office, and is now a conference room. Period photos of the bank were placed on the table.

Within the interior space, we see the floors of newer infrastructure that house documents on both sides around the open area below. All of that is designed in such a way that it doesn't interfere with the building itself. Staffers were on hand to answer questions about what's done here most of the time.

This staircase leads down to what is today a staff lunch room, but which was, back in the day, the bank's vault. Tomorrow I'll show you a building a short walk away that was once a bank, but is also now converted for government use.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Czech Embassy

I have switched out the header image yesterday for one taken last August, at the Rideau Canal's Ottawa locks during Colonel By Day festivities.

Near the Embassy of Hungary in yesterday's post is another embassy, for the Czech Republic. First built in 1879 in the Victorian vernacular style, with additions added on in 1913, this house has been home to the Liberal Federation and the University Club. In 2000, it took on the embassy status it retains to this day. The embassy has been a regular feature in Doors Open for the last few years.

Apparently Lex Luthor was there that day. Or was that Captain Picard?

This room also had art hanging as an exhibit, in a very modern style.

The architectural style of this place really appeals to me.

This bust was on the top of a cabinet in this room. It depicts Vaclav Havel, the writer, dissident, and politician who shepherded the transition from the partitioning of the former Czechoslovakia into two nations as the final president of that country, and then as the first president of the Czech Republic. This bust was to be presented a few days after this event to the University of Manitoba by the Czech ambassador, as the note beside it explained.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Birkett Castle

Birkett Castle, as it's been called from its earliest days, returned to the Doors Open circuit this year. It dates back to 1896, built on behalf of its first owner, Thomas Birkett, who was the mayor of Ottawa at the time. It is done in a Baronial Gothic style. It has served several purposes after Birkett's day, including as the Japanese embassy and the headquarters for the Canadian Boy Scouts. Since 1994, this is the embassy for Hungary.

A good deal of the interior decorating details are Hungarian, such as the maps, tapestries, china, or a bust of King Stephen I in the entrance. The woodwork in here is incredible.