The National Arts Centre: Evolution of a National Capital Landmark

Photo:  The Kipnes Lantern above the new entrance to the NAC.

This Jane’s Walk will visit the exciting newly-opened National Arts Centre architectural addition by Diamond Schmitt Architects. We will explore the history, evolution, and urban context of Canada’s National Arts Centre.   How familiar are you with the architecture and history of the NAC, Canada’s official Centennial Project and a National Historic Site?

What was on the NAC site prior to 1967? Why was the NAC, built in 1969, located on a site that was intended by the National Capital Commission to be a Public Square? Why was the NAC designed in the Brutalist style by its original architect Fred Lebensold? Why was the main entrance located to face the Rideau Canal? How does the new NAC glass addition, designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects, respect the original “Brutalist “ design,? Why will Ottawa’s new LRT system not have an underground station at the NAC, as originally planned by the City of Ottawa? Join the walk and share your thoughts!


Have you ever wondered why the NAC faces the water instead of the street? At the end of this walk you will be able to see a 2.5 minute video prepared by Barry Padolsky, which is a digital rendering of the plan for confederation square – a plan that was never built. Join us after for the Jane's Walk Wrap-up party in the NAC's New City Space.


Starting at the new NAC Entrance “Kipnes Lantern” on Elgin Street, the route will take us around the outside of the NAC and into the new glass addition by Diamond Schmitt Architects.  

Participants, note:

This walk will end just as our Apres-Jane drop-in gets going at the NAC. You are all invited to join us in the new Atrium to meet other walkers and volunteers, share your experience of the weekend, and discuss ways to make Ottawa even better for everyone! Enter through the Kipnes Lantern.

About the walk leader

Barry Padolsky is an Ottawa-based architect, urban design, and heritage consultant. His firm, BPA, has been responsible for restoring and adapting more than sixty heritage landmarks in the National Capital. Prominent achievements include the Canadian Museum of Nature (Padolsky Kuwabara Gagnon JV Architects), the ByWard Market Building, and picturesque bridges such as the Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau Canal. BPA was retained by the NAC to be the heritage and urban design consultant for the NAC Architectural Rejuvenation Project completed in 2018. BPA has won forty-one national and civic awards for architecture, heritage conservation and urban design. Barry is an advocate for the conservation of our built heritage. He is currently Vice-Chair of the City of Ottawa Built Heritage sub-committee.

Selected projects are described on-line at


Barry Padolsky

Date:Sun May 6, 2018
Time:3:30 PM
Duration: 1 hour
Language: English
Start:NAC, new Elgin St. entrance
Distance:1.0 km

The walk will follow paved pathways.  There may be some stairs.

The new 'lantern' feature on the NAC reduces the Brutalist aspect of its architectural style.
Volunteer to Marshal This Walk