A Celebration for Canada's 150th Anniversary - the National Arts Centre Rejuvenation

By Pietro Vinco da Sesso,
Structural Designer


For Canada’s 150th Anniversary celebration, the National Arts Centre has undergone a rejuvenation process which included both improved spaces for performance and new wings for audience and presentation events.

Early 2016, StructureCraft began to work with Diamond Schmitt, Fast + Epp, and PCL to design and build the new feature roof portion of the project (shown above). Successfully completing this project in proper time for July 1st of 2017 required a significant amount of ingenuity and teamwork.


The façade has columns ranging from 30 to 50 ft. long, all supporting hybrid panels of varied sizes. These triangular roof panels are comprised of trapezoidal glulam segments of continually varying depths fastened together by 65 ft. (+/-) steel plates running along the long side of each coffered panel. An acoustic panel is supported at middle height inside each panel, hiding from view an intricate web of electrical conduit, sprinkler pipes, theatrical equipment - all preinstalled off-site.

The complexity of the geometry, the reduced tolerances, the amount of prefabrication required, the pre-installation of varied utilities, and the stringent schedule made for a challenging but rewarding project (see video below for 65', 30,000lb panel being flown into place).

Collaboration + Fabrication

StructureCraft worked closely with the design team to refine the connections providing viable suggestion both from the fabrication and the installation point of view.

To reduce transportation costs and to deal with the massive covered space required to pre-fabricate these panels, we set up our assembly lines in a rented shop a ways outside Ottawa.

Pieces stacked and ready to be assembled into coffers. (80 mm thick and from 900 to 1300 mm high)

National Arts centre

Building, lifting and transporting these panels was a project in and of itself.

Only after every single coffer is fastened together with the steel plate running along its side is it possible to move these panels. Due to the scale of MEP integration required, the panels had to be raised from the floor in order to allow trades to work from below and from above at the same time.

Before and after


Nearing Completion