DCN ARCHIVES

May 9, 2007

PANDA ASSOCIATES PHOTOGRAPHY

A reinforced concrete ramp leads down to passenger platforms at the historic Ottawa train station.

Ottawa train station a 'temple'

A train station that has been described as “a temple for arriving and departing passengers” has received the prestigious 2007 landmark award from the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA).

Designed by John B. Parkin Associates, the predecessor firm to Toronto’s NORR Ltd., Architects and Engineers, the 96,000-square-foot Ottawa station was built by Thomas Fuller Construction Co. Ltd. in 1966.

The project won a Massey Medal for architecture the following year. The station includes a public concourse, dining room, cafeteria, offices, bedrooms, employee lounge, underground tunnel to tracks, a power plant and telecommunications facility.

The OAA Landmark Award recognizes Ontario buildings that demonstrate the very best qualities that architecture can deliver to the community and can contribute to society. Criteria include a building built before 1982 that:

Establishes a design excellence standard for future generations;
Enhances the public realm;
Is compatible and consistent with its surroundings; and,
Helps to identify part of the community by its unique relationship with its neighbourhood or the city.

In a statement, NORR said the train station “admirably demonstrates” all the OAA criteria. “For more than 40 years, the Ottawa train station has remained a landmark building in Canada’s capital city and represents an important period of Canadian architectural history.”

David Clusiau, NORR’s principal of architectural design said “the simple, modern and clean lines, combined with the strong dramatic form of the building, echo back to the grand public halls of an earlier era of train travel.

“The heroic scaled steel spans of the train stations of the industrial revolution are matched by the equally heroic exposed steel trusses of the Ottawa station. These trusses are part of clearly contemporary composition that is precise, orthogonal and Miesian in architectural inspiration.”

He described the station as a “temple” for train passengers.

The main passenger station is composed of three fundamentally independent structural units that function en masse. The large roof — 150 feet wide, 330 feet long and hovering 33 feet above the concourse floor — is pin-connected to the eight massive tapering concrete columns supporting it. The exposed two-way steel truss is formed in three main sections cantilevered 30 feet on all four sides. The sub-trusses, 7.6 feet deep, are spaced at 15 foot intervals and supported between the major trusses, themselves 15 feet deep.

At the heart of this “symmetrical and orthogonal composition” are the circular ticketing booth and the reinforced concrete helical ramp that leads down to the passenger platforms below.

The functional and gracious public areas are flooded with natural light and the services facilities are housed in symmetrical concrete clad wings.

NORR said the purity of the building composition is emphasised by its solitary placement “in a minimal but extensive manicured grass landscape” that slopes up to the station and conceals the rail lines behind and below.

NORR now has won five OAA landmark awards.

The award will be presented Friday during the OAA/Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Conference and Festival of Architecture in Toronto.

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