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Construction Begins on HOK-Designed British High Commission Building in Ottawa

The UK government’s new Canadian headquarters is set to become the greenest building within its diplomatic network.

Construction has begun on the new HOK-designed British High Commission in Canada’s capital city. The high-performance building is designed to capture passive solar heat, reduce water usage by 40 percent and incorporate locally sourced recycled construction materials. Additional sustainability features of the LEED Gold-targeted building include extensive daylighting, vehicle charging stations and a program to divert 75 percent of construction waste for recycling.

“We are proud and excited that our new High Commission will be the greenest building in the UK diplomatic network, setting gold standards across the world,” said Susan le Jeune d’Allegeershecque, British Commissioner to Canada. “It will also be less expensive and more efficient to run and maintain in the long term.”

Slated for completion in 2022, the new facility will move the British High Commission a little over a mile north from a building it has occupied for 60 years in downtown Ottawa. The new location sits adjacent to the commissioner’s official residence on the Earnscliffe National Historic Site. Once the home of Sir John MacDonald, Canada’s first prime minister, the Victorian-style Earnscliffe dates to the mid-1800s and lies in a picturesque setting along Ottawa’s ceremonial route and the banks of the Ottawa River.

The new High Commission building provides a contemporary foil to Earnscliffe, taking subtle material cues from the home’s limestone facade while projecting a bold, forward-looking vision of modern Britain. Together the two buildings will consolidate the UK’s official functions in one efficient and compact campus. The building uses discreet security measures and landscaping to ensure safety while enhancing the surrounding public space and the serene, manicured gardens of Earnscliffe.

The project was secured as a joint effort between HOK’s Ottawa and London offices and was designed and detailed by the Ottawa team. The project team also includes Pomerleau Inc., WYG and MACE/Tetratech.

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