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Canadian Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, ON

The collection of buildings that make up the Canadian Parliament are some of the country’s most recognizable and built predominantly in the Gothic Revival style. The complex was designed by several architectural partnerships. Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones designed the original Centre Block and Library and the Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council formerly the Langevin Block) and Thomas Stent and Augustus Laver were responsible for the East and West Blocks.
Heather & Little has worked on the building of the hill for decades.. As one restoration is completed, repairs or revisions are required in another location. H&L is proud to be named Historic Metal Conservators for the Parliament Buildings establishing the time, ways and means that new work should be approached. We work with Architects and Contractors to record and document the existing composition of the roofing across the many structures and consult on establishing the time, ways and means that new work should be approached.

Peace Tower, Centre Block and Library of Parliament

The focal point of Parliament Hill is the Peace Tower, which is the entrance to the building commonly known as Centre Block. In 1916, fire destroyed the Centre Block, except for the library. When it was rebuilt by architects Pearson & Marchand, the Gothic style was retained although updated to a Beaux-Arts axial plan. The enlarged building and the Peace Tower were completed in 1927. The building is traditionally the home to the Chambers of the House of Commons and the Senate, however the most recent restoration of the Centre Block has temporarily required their relocation to the West Block. H&L previously partnered with Colonial Building Restoration of Toronto, and Thomas Fuller Construction of Ottawa to tackle historic sheet metal restoration of the Peace Tower, Centre Block, and Thomas Fuller Construction on the Library of Parliament.

Peace Tower, Ottawa

The historic Peace Tower stands at 302 feet and 6 inches tall and includes 270 gargoyles and other ornamental designs. After years of harsh weather conditions and inevitable erosion, the copper sheet metal roofing covering the Peace Tower needed thorough restoration.

This extensive sheet metal restoration work required the entire removal of the existing copper and sheet metal components. Once removed, a new air-vapour barrier and new wood battens were installed to get the structure up to modern safety codes. The original copper roofing was reworked to include newer seaming methods, and then reinstalled on the tower. The decorative copper cresting atop the tower was also removed and repaired to fix broken solder joints before being reinstalled.

For this project, we used both 20- and 24-ounce copper sheets to match with the original materials that were reworked. All new and restored roofing was installed in the “batten seam” style. For more information on the sheet metal restoration on the Peace Tower, view the images below or contact us at Heather & Little today!

Centre Block

The Centre Block’s copper sheet old roof required extensive restoration and was fully replaced and reinstalled with new copper. First the old copper roofing system was completely removed. A new building envelope was installed consisting of an air barrier membrane, insulation and a batten seam copper roofing system, and sheet lead roofing. To learn more about other projects for the Parliament Building’s restoration, view the Centre Block copper roof restoration images below.

Library of Parliament

The National Library of Canada or Library of Parliament (built 1859-1876) is inspired by the British Museum Reading Room in London, England. It was built as a separate area of the Centre Block and attached by a corridor. Known for its unique round shape that houses multiple galleries, the archival records of the Government of Canada and over 600,000 items, it has been plagued with difficulties, requiring repeated renovations. A fire in 1916 almost permanently destroyed it and fire struck again in 1952. In February of 2002, the Library of Parliament was closed as work began on a thorough restoration including roof and building envelope, masonry, systemic upgrades, and mechanical restoration. Competitive tendering ensued, and Heather & Little won the bid to restore this outstanding structure.

The restoration of the library involved stripping the entire roof assembly to the structural steel framing, and installing new steel deck, vapour barrier, insulation, and plywood decking. The new copper roofing was performed in 20-oz copper, 8-pound lead sheet, lead-coated copper, and Monel metal roofing (a nickel/copper alloy) sheet metal chosen because of its workability.

Approximately 1,390 square metres of materials were used to replace both the galvanized iron and lead-coated copper. Another 110 square metres of 1.2-mm stainless steel were used to fabricate built-in stainless rain gutters. Heather & Little installed sheet metal that had been hand break formed in our shop. Roof structures that were clad in this project included the lantern walls, lantern windows, upper flying buttresses, and pinnacles. As well, we fabricated and installed buttress cap flashing, and main roof ribs and installed a plate bronze snow arrest systems and Kalamein windows clad with monel sheet metal.

Decorative embellishments were also under our purview, including fabricating and installing cornice, the restoration of all cast iron railings and weathervanes, reproduction of ornamental copper finials.

This project was not only a great success, but it was awarded with a North American Copper in Architecture Award (NACIA).
To learn more about the Library of Parliament roof restoration, view the images below.

West Block and MacKenzie Tower

The West Block, constructed between 1859 and 1865, is a Classified Federal Heritage Building listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. The four-sided building underwent a massive renovation to accommodate a change in usage. The interior quadrangle of the West Block was infilled to provide a temporary home for the House of Commons until the Centre Block restoration was complete. We partnered with PCL Constructors of Ottawa to restore the roof on the 1878 MacKenzie Tower and surrounding area. The MacKenzie Tower is the most ornate part of the West Block. It is one of the later additions to the West block and was designed by Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie.

This restoration involved the total removal of old copper batten roofing and its replacement by our coppersmiths, restoration of the copper clad Kalamein windows, tower finials, and copper cresting. Our artisans also clad many of the exposed masonry elements in eight-pound sheet lead to protect them from further deterioration. Within the courtyard, the visible copper roofs were repaired with oxidized panels selected for their green patina from existing portions of the roof, before the latter was re-finished with new copper. Awarded a North American Copper in Architecture Award (NACIA).
To learn more about the MacKenzie Tower copper roof and decorative stamped and fabricated sheet metal restoration, view the images below.

East Block

The East Block is the most intact of Parliament Hill's heritage buildings with two wings, 1867 Wing and 1910 Wing. The Classified Federal Heritage Building listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and one of the world's finest examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture. Work was last performed on the 1867 Wing in the 1970s and the Block was again in need of restoration and modernization. The restoration involved two phases, the North Elevation (Phase 1) and South Elevation (Phase 2). H&L worked on both phases, restoring and replacing the copper roofing and protective lead forming.

East Block’s roofs were originally made of slate, however it was decided to replace it with copper roofing in the mid-1900s. As part of the building’s rehabilitation H&L installed new copper roofs on the southwest and southeast towers.

The East Block’s exterior masonry elements were capped with lead to help prevent damage to the stonework. Since lead is a naturally flexible material, the sheets can closely envelop the masonry’s details and help absorb the shock from falling ice and snow.

Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council (formerly the Langevin Block)

The Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council, located across from the Parliament Buildings, is one of the finest federal examples of a Second Empire office building.

Heather & Little was honoured to be chosen to help restore this National Historic Site and revitalize part of the Ottawa landscape.

When Heather & Little took on this project, there was a significant amount of work that needed to be performed to restore the mansard copper roofing. A complete removal of the old copper roofing system was necessary, and decorative stamped metal items were replicated. The restoration of decorative ornaments included stamped sheet metal roof crestings, finials, cartouche, cornices and decorative copper hip covers. Designs for the decorative sheet metal items were stamped into the copper sheets to replicate original items that were damaged over time.

When the project was completed, the entire mansard roof area on four elevations was restored using 20-ounce copper sheets. This new stamped sheet metal roof will protect the The Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council for years to come, providing the setting for some of the most important political events and decisions in Canada’s future. To learn more about this sheet copper roofing and decorative sheet metal project, take a look at the images below:

Preservation Consulting

And if you are looking for a second opinion on your project or have a particularly complex issue that needs a fresh eye, we’re here for that too. Tackling tricky challenges is our specialty and we welcome the opportunity to provide consulting advice, with the same exacting attention to detail we bring to all our commissions.
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