11 . 23 . 2015

National Arts Centre renovations to begin in December 2015

AUTHOR Rosemary Thompson

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today announced it would begin renovations of its 46 year-old building, situated in the heart of downtown Ottawa, in December 2015.

Work will begin in December, earlier than originally anticipated, ensuring completion of the new Elgin Street atrium entrance by Canada Day 2017 as planned. The completion of the NAC’s main banquet room, the Panorama Room, will be completed by January 2018, also as planned.

The “new” NAC will include improved performance spaces, public areas for education and events, full accessibility for people with mobility challenges, and a magnificent glass atrium with a glittering entrance on Elgin Street, embracing Confederation Square and some of the most iconic views of important landmarks in our nation’s capital.

Over the last year, the NAC has worked closely with its architects Diamond Schmitt and builder, PCL Constructors Inc., to prepare a construction schedule that would allow the NAC to stay open throughout the renovations.

“The decision to stay open wasn’t an easy one,” said Peter Herrndorf, CEO of the National Arts Centre. “On the one hand, we were very aware that the work involved for a project of this scale would mean a good deal of inconvenience to our patrons. On the other hand, we knew that our audience depends on us to bring the best of the performing arts to the Nation’s Capital. In the end, and after careful consideration, we’ve decided to remain open during the 2015-2016 and 2016-17 artistic seasons.”

Here are key details of today’s announcement:


Construction work will take place outside performance hours on weekdays between midnight and 2 p.m., allowing evening and weekend shows to go ahead as planned. Because of daytime construction hours, a certain number of school matinées and daytime performances and rehearsals taking place during the week will have to be cancelled or moved to other halls within the NAC, or to other venues across the city. The Fourth Stage will be closed starting in the spring of 2016 until July 2017, however many of the shows and community events presented here will be moved to other the Centre’s performance halls.

Le café

Due to the daytime disruption caused by the renovation, le café will be closing for lunch from January 4, 2016 until June 26, 2017. Le café will remain open, however, for dinner in the evening.  The NAC’s catering operations will be considerably reduced during the renovations.


The public will begin to see physical changes to the building between December and January, including hoarding that will be installed on Elgin Street and on the northeastern side of the terrace overlooking Confederation Square. PCL will also begin to remove concrete tiles on the north terrace in January. Inside the NAC, work will begin near the Fountain Room and in the space between the main reception desk and the Theatre lobby. Visitors may also see some work being done in the garages to strengthen some of the NAC’s supporting structure.


One of the first tasks will be to build a new bank of washrooms on the second floor, near the Panorama and Fountain Rooms. Existing washrooms on the ground floor will remain in operation until the second phase of construction, which will begin in March-April 2016. By that time, the new washrooms will be ready.

Box Office

The area around the NAC Box Office will be a very busy construction zone from the early morning until about 2 p.m. That’s why a temporary Box Office will be established near the NAC in the New Year. This full-service welcome centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be an oasis from the construction zone – a comfortable place where patrons can take care of their ticketing needs, get a cup of coffee and find out the latest NAC news. The NAC’s main Box Office will be fully operational, however, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to deal with patrons’ ticketing needs. More details on this will be forthcoming early in the New Year.

Pedestrian access to the NAC

The NAC will maintain four clearly marked entrances to the building, including from Elgin Street, Freiman Lane and Mackenzie King Bridge. The public will also always be able to enter the NAC from the parking garage (which will stay open throughout the construction).

Car access to the NAC

A gate will be installed at the entrance of Freiman Lane later this winter that will eventually prevent car access to the NAC during construction hours from midnight to 2 p.m. We will give you plenty of advance notice about that in the New Year. The NAC parking garage will always be accessible from the Elgin Street and Albert Street entrances.

The NAC will provide timely, regular updates to its patrons and the public as renovations gets underway. More information is available online at www.nac-cna.ca and by following the NAC on Facebook and Twitter. NAC subscribers, patrons and parking customers will also receive regular email updates informing them of upcoming project milestones and potential disruptions. Anyone can sign up to receive renovation updates by clicking here.

About the NAC

The NAC is the only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre in Canada and one of the largest in the world. The NAC presents 1,300 performances a year in Music, Dance, Theatre, and Contemporary Music. The NAC’s mandate is to work with artists and arts organizations across the country to support the performing arts everywhere and to create a national stage.

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