In the heart of Canada’s Capital Region, the West Memorial Building stands as a symbol of Canadian service and bravery in the Second World War. A venerable structure with a rich heritage, the West Memorial Building is currently the focal point of a comprehensive rehabilitation project that aims to marry its historical significance with contemporary sustainability practices.

Originally constructed in 1950s, the building has never before undergone the major repairs or renovations necessary for the safe functioning of a federal building of its vintage. Under the care of Public Services and Procurement Canada the West Memorial Building is in the midst of a transformation that aims to preserve its historic significance while embracing modern sustainability practices, including accessibility. The rehabilitation project goes beyond restoring the West Memorial Building to its former glory, by embracing modern technologies and sustainable practices to enhance the building’s functionality while minimizing its environmental impact. This harmonious blend of the past and the present is a testament to the project’s commitment to holistic restoration.

The West Memorial Building project is part of an overarching $1+ Billion program of work which includes modernizing and conserving the Supreme Court of Canada Building. Once the West Memorial Building is ready, it will host the occupants and visitors of the Supreme Court of Canada Building while that building is modernized.

The rejuvenation initiative, spearheaded by a collaboration of dedicated professionals and contractors including Moriyama & Teshima Architects and Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd and EllisDon Corporation, is set to bring the West Memorial Building back to working condition. The intricate process involves not only meticulous restoration of its historic features but also the integration of cutting-edge technologies to enhance its functionality and reduce its environmental footprint.

Under Public Services and Procurement Canada, the West Memorial Building project takes a proactive stance toward sustainability. From construction materials to energy-efficient systems, the project team is mindful of minimizing its carbon footprint, setting a commendable standard for responsible construction practices.

According to PSPC Senior Project Director, Martin Lelievre, the work undertaken at the West Memorial Building will reduce energy consumption by 45 per cent and obtain a four Green Globes sustainability rating. With the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, a government of Canada priority, PSPC will be able to reduce emissions by over 92 per cent from the combined investment at the West Memorial Building, the ongoing greening efforts on PSPC’s district energy network and the department’s procurement initiative to secure 100% clean electricity for federal operations across the Country.

The economic impact of maintaining and modernizing these buildings is substantial. Beyond the direct employment opportunities generated by restoration projects, the upkeep of these landmarks attracts tourism, contributing significantly to the local economy. Visitors, both domestic and international, are drawn to the historical significance and architectural splendor of these structures. Modernization efforts often involve the incorporation of sustainable technologies, fostering innovation and creating a demand for skilled professionals in the construction and conservation sectors. As these landmarks are integral to the identity of the Canadian Capital Region, their continued preservation and enhancement play a vital role in sustaining the region’s cultural vibrancy and economic prosperity.

“The project started in 2019 and the current average workforce on the project is approximately 200 workers per day with an expected peak of more than 300 workers in 2024/2025,” says Lelievre.

As the West Memorial Building project unfolds, it becomes a symbol not just of architectural restoration but of resilience and progress. The fusion of historical preservation with modern innovation is poised to make the building not only a landmark but a living testament to Canada’s ability to honor its past while embracing a sustainable future.

The buildings in the Canadian Capital Region stand as living embodiments of Canada’s history, culture, and democratic ideals. From the iconic Parliament Hill, where the nation’s lawmakers convene, to heritage structures like the West Memorial Building, these architectural landmarks are tangible symbols of Canadian ideals. Maintaining and modernizing these buildings not only preserves the tangible artifacts of the past but also ensures they remain functional, relevant, and equipped to meet the needs of a contemporary society.

“This building is so important because it honours Canadians who served during the Second World War,” says Lelievre. “It is situated in a prime location in the city, and it is going to serve and the accommodation for the Supreme Court which is the cornerstone of Canadian justice. This project is going to make a difference for Canadians, and as such, is a project of a lifetime.”

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