Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill, colloquially known as The Hill, is an area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, Ontario. Its Gothic revival suite of buildings — the parliament buildings serves as the home of the Parliament of Canada and contains a number of architectural elements of national symbolic importance. Parliament Hill attracts approximately 3 million visitors each year.
Originally the site of a military base in the 18th and early 19th centuries, development of the site into a governmental precinct began in 1859, after Bytown was chosen by Queen Victoria as the capital of the Province of Canada. Following a number of extensions to the parliament and departmental buildings and a fire in 1916 that destroyed the Centre Block, Parliament Hill took on its present form with the completion of the Peace Tower in 1927. Since 2002, an extensive $1 billion renovation and rehabilitation project has been underway throughout all of the precinct's buildings; work is not expected to be complete until after 2020.
Parliament Building
The parliament buildings are three edifices arranged around three sides of Parliament Hill's central lawn, the use and administration of the spaces within each building being overseen by the speakers of each chamber of the legislature. The Centre Block contains the Senate and Commons chambers, and is fronted by the Peace Tower on the south facade, with the Library of Parliament at the building's rear. The East and West Blocks each contain ministers' and senators' offices, as well as meeting rooms and other administrative spaces. Gothic Revival has been used as the unifying style of all three structures, though the Centre Block is a more modern Gothic Revival, while the older East and West Blocks are of a Victorian High Gothic manner.
This collection is one of the most important examples of the Gothic Revival style anywhere in the world; while the manner and design of the buildings are unquestionably Gothic, they resemble no building constructed during the middle Ages. The forms were the same, but their arrangement was uniquely modern. The parliament buildings also departed from the medieval models by integrating a variety of eras and styles of Gothic architecture, including elements from Britain, France, the Low Countries, and Italy, all in three buildings. In his 1867 Hand Book to the Parliamentary and Departmental Buildings, Canada, Joseph Bureau wrote: "The style of the Buildings is the Gothic of the 12th and 13th Centuries, with modifications to suit the climate of Canada. The ornamental work and the dressing round the windows are of Ohio sandstone. The plain surface is faced with cream-colored sandstone of the Potsdam formation, obtained from Nepean, a few miles from Ottawa. The spandrels of the arches, and the spaces between window-arches and the sills of the upper windows, are filled up with a quaint description of stonework, composed of stones of irregular size, shape and color, very neatly set together.
The only structure on Parliament Hill to have been purposefully demolished was the old Supreme Court building, which stood behind the West Block and housed the Supreme Court between 1889 and 1945. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s there were discussions to tear down other parliamentary precinct buildings, including the Library of Parliament and West Block for new structures, and the East Block for parking, but none of these plans were carried out. Instead, renovations were undertaken to the East Block, beginning in 1966.
By 2002, a thorough $1 billion renovation project was started across the parliamentary precinct, specifically focusing on masonry restoration, asbestos removal, vehicle screening, parking, electrical and mechanical systems, and improved visitors' facilities. The Library of Parliament and Peace Tower, as well as some exterior areas of masonry on the Centre Block has so far been completed, though focus has shifted to the West Block due to its rapidly deteriorating cladding. Before 2012, when the Centre Block is slated to be closed for five years in order to carry out an extensive interior restoration and upgrade, the inner courtyards of the East and West Blocks will be enclosed and fitted with temporary chambers for the Senate and House of Commons.
How to Reach:
 402 Queen Street Ottawa, ON K1R 5A7, Canada (613) 236-1133
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