Sir John A. Macdonald Building

Overhead Skylight + Glass Fin Façade | Ottawa, ON


The Sir John A. Macdonald Building (144 Wellington), one of Canada’s principal heritage structures, was originally constructed in 1932 as the Bank of Montreal. The federally recognized heritage landmark was transformed in 2015, utilizing structural glass for the façade and atrium skylight, to serve as Canada’s new ceremonial hall for events of state to include parliamentary business and reception functions for the House of Commons. The new design sought to incorporate the integrity, character and quality of the existing structure, while reinterpreting the building composition to flood the historic interior with natural light- adding grandeur, vibrancy and unobstructed views of Parliament Hill.

“For close to a century this building has exemplified grandeur and dignity. It has also represented optimism….This is a space that is of its time, even as it pays homage to the architecture of the past. The whole project has a quiet dignity.”
Sarah Brown, Canadian Architect

The restoration of the building’s façade utilized Sentech’s VetraFin G-Series system, using full-height, insulated glass panels supported by full-height triple laminated vertical glass fins. Portions of the wall also combined our VetraFin system with our VetraPatch Connection Series in a bronze coating to discretely integrate with the aesthetic of the surrounding heritage elements. The most striking architectural feature of the project is the contemporary, all-glass atrium skylight that utilized Sentech’s overhead systems, consisting of insulated glass units that span between the existing building structure and connected with bronze-clad steel brackets. The atrium serves as both a visual and physical connection between the old and the new, incorporating daylight and ventilation strategies that result in a striking structure that floods the historic structure with natural light and exquisite transparency.


2018 27th World Architecture Award Winner
2017 Canadian Green Building Award: Existing Building Upgrade Category
2017 Ottawa Architectural Conservation Awards – Adaptive Re-Use
2016 Winner of 5 Green Globes
2016 CAHP|ACECP Award of Excellence, Conservation Architecture
2015 National Trust Award for Building Heritage in Adaptive Use/Rehabilitation
2015 Award of Excellence: Urban Infill Low Rise – City of Ottawa, Urban Design Awards


Architect: NORR Architects & MTBA Associates, Inc.
Glazing Contractor: OVG, Inc.
GC: EllisDon
Photo Credit: Amanda Large

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