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Renovating Vanier Hall, Ottawa, Ontario

The University of Ottawa’s Vanier Hall brings together 10,000 students, nine departments and 250 full-time personnel in a new, standard-setting building.


Client: University of Ottawa

Our client’s challenge

The University of Ottawa wanted to consolidate its largest faculty, the Faculty of Social Sciences in one location. This involved renovating a six-storey 1950s building and adding a new, 15-storey tower. The biggest challenge was how to efficiently expand a building sitting on a marginal, pie-shaped site at the edge of a dense urban campus.

Our approach

The structural engineering team worked with Diamond Schmitt Architects, in joint venture with KWC Architects, to create a state-of-the-art building which maximizes the available space and allows for future campus development.

The new tower features a 225-seat lecture theatre that dramatically cantilevers 12 meters out over a future public plaza. Designing the cantilevered structure to support the 225-seat theatre, plus a large multi-use meeting room above the theatre with a green roof, truly pushed the limits of what structural engineers can do.


The new multi-level Faculty of Social Sciences Building creates a prominent, eye-catching landmark for the University and an iconic new addition to Ottawa’s urban landscape. It serves as a gateway from the city and is strategically important to the development of the inner campus.

“This is more than just a new building; it’s a veritable social science laboratory,” said Allan Rock, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University when the building opened in time for the start of the academic year. “Students and researchers in our largest faculty will benefit from the synergies that come with being together.”