National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is the permanent home of the world’s most comprehensive collection of Canadian art. The Museum contains over 130,000 square feet of exhibition space on two levels, seminar rooms, a reference library, an auditorium, two restaurants, a bookstore and a major curatorial and conservation wing. The museum is conceived as a rich experiential sequence that juxtaposes extroverted public spaces with introverted gallery and contemplation spaces. The design takes advantage of a prominent waterfront site overlooking Parliament. A gently ramped colonnade, which offers spectacular views of the Ottawa River and the Parliament beyond, leads from the main entrance on Sussex Drive to the Great Hall. From the Great Hall, the promenade forms a second axis leading to the Rotunda. Visitors enter all galleries from either the Great Hall or the Rotunda. Beyond the Rotunda, a continuation of the promenade’s axis leads to a separate curatorial wing, connected to the main building by bridges at each principal level. The design reflects an intense focus on the interaction between space and light. Exhibition spaces are located on two levels, organized around three courtyards to create a legible progression of movement. Galleries on the upper and lower levels receive natural daylight. Traditional skylights light the upper level while the lower levels are illuminated by a system of shafts lined with reflective Mylar, which bounces natural light deep into the museum.
The Great Hall is situated at the juncture of all of the galleries and acts as the principal public and ceremonial space. A system of nylon sails provides daylight and acoustical control, with counterweights that are stabilized by suspended rings, which also support supplemental lighting. The building is a cladding of gray and pink granite from Tadoussac, Québec. Glazed promenades and crystalline pavilions enclose public circulation and assembly spaces. Their transparency visually joins the museum with Ottawa’s heritage; their forms relate the building to the natural site and surrounding architecture of the city.