Government Conference Centre
The Government Conference Centre is a government building in downtown Ottawa, Canada, located at 2 Rideau Street. It is situated at the intersection of Wellington Street and the Rideau Canal, just a short distance from the Parliament buildings and Confederation Square, and across the street from the Château Laurier hotel, completed around the same time.

History and architecture
The building was opened by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1912 as Ottawa's railway station, and the hotel was built across the street to serve travellers. Previously in Ottawa, each railway company had its own station. The Grand Trunk Railway company decided to allow other Railways to use this station, therefore clarifying and unifying passenger travel in the city. Both Canadian National Railways and Canadian Pacific Railway operated regularly scheduled passenger trains through the facility until the mid 1960s. The station was originally designed by New York-based architect Bradford Lee Gilbert who was eventually dismissed due to concerns of mismanagement. The Montreal firm of Ross and MacFarlane took over the project, making many design changes to the station. Ross and MacFarlane also took over the design of the Château Laurier and later built Toronto's Union Station. In 1966, the National Capital Commission decided to remove the tracks along the east side of the Canal, replacing them with a scenic drive, and built a new Ottawa station just south of Ottawa's downtown area. While the NCC had originally planned to tear down the structure, it was spared, becoming the centre of Canada's centenary celebrations in 1967. After sitting empty for many years, it was turned into the Government Conference Centre. A new entrance and canopy at the rear of the building was built to provide greater security for the Commonwealth Prime Minister's meeting held in 1973. The same year, artist Bruce Garner sculpted bronze doors for the new entrance, titled Reflections of Canada. It has since been home to many gatherings of civil servants and politicians. In 2001, the building hosted the G20 conference, a gathering of 20 finance ministers from around the world. As well as hosting conferences, the building is also sometimes used as a gallery. A section of the Berlin wall is on permanent display inside the main entrance. The building is inspired by the Beaux-Arts architectural style. The main departures hall (now the main conference area) is based on the Great Hall of the Roman Baths of Caracalla at 3/4 scale. It is therefore similar to the now-destroyed departures hall of New York Penn Station. The cavernous structure has never been well suited to its role as a conference centre. In the mid-1990s a proposal was made to turn it into the new home for the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, but these plans fell through. In his final year in office, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that the building would become home to a new museum of Canadian political history, but incoming Prime Minister Paul Martin cancelled this project, and it has remained a conference centre. In 2007, the idea of reverting the building back to its original use sprang up as Ottawa considered various proposals for regional commuter rail systems. It is seen as being feasible to do so (although it would require a long tunnel to reconnect to the existing railway tracks) ; however, the Government of Canada's Department of Public Works says the building is not for sale.

Media

3 photos

Building Activity

  • removed 2 media and updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via Annotator