Parliamentary Library


Parliamentary Library




Batten Seam Roofing


Ogilvie and Hogg Architects, Ottawa Desnoyers Mercure & Associés, Montreal
Spencer R. Higgins Architect, Toronto Lundholm Associates Architects, Toronto


Heather & Little Limited


Canadian Brass & Copper Co.


The jewel on the Hill.
An architectural treasure.
An icon in the nation's capital.
The most important heritage building in Canada

These are just a few of the tributes and feelings that have been expressed about the Library of Parliament, in Ottawa. As part of the
ongoing renovation projects on Parliament Hill, a major component was recently completed with the total rehabilitation and upgrade of the
Library of Parliament. The magnificent structure first opened in 1877 after 18 years of construction. The original design by Thomas Fuller and Chilion Jones was based on the style of an English Gothic Chapter House and the Reading Room at the British Museum.

One of the most prominent features of the structure is its magnificent copper roof. In fact the old copper sheet removed from the roof was not recycled as is normally the case with aged copper. Instead a significant portion of the copper was fabricated into panels that now grace the interior of the new Canadian War Museum, profiled in Canadian Copper, No. 153.

This just shows the durability and attractiveness of an aged copper roof and the effectiveness of reusing it when the material is carefully
removed without damage. It is interesting to note that 82% of the construction waste from the entire project was diverted from landfill disposal.

The Library was originally built with a purple and green slate roof in an intricate pattern known as "structural polychromy". When the original
slate blew off in a tornado (which are extremely rare in the Ottawa region) in 1888, the entire roof was reclad in copper. The most recent
reroofing was done in line with the current project architects' approach of respecting the evolution of the building and important previous
"Layers of History". As a result, the existing roof was replaced with new copper, not slate.

The roofing contractor for the project was Heather & Little Limited, a firm with a wealth of experience on some of Ottawa's and Canada's
most notable historic projects, including the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. In recent years, their work has spread to various American
cities, including New York, Washington, Atlanta, San Francisco and elsewhere.

Copper sheet (20-oz) and Monel sheet were supplied by Canadian Brass & Copper Co. of Concord. About 2,100 m2 (22,500 sq. ft) of
copper were installed on the roof and the new gutter system designed to carry water away from the masonry and avoid future damage.
Monel, an alloy of 70% nickel and 30% copper, was used to cap the buttresses, creating a dramatic contrast in various light conditions.

The rehabilitation work is intended to give the Library an extended life span of 50 additional years, and many of the changes (both to the
exterior and the interior, as well as the mechanical and electrical systems) reflect that goal. Since a properly designed and installed copper
roof should last upwards of 100 years or more, the next time the Library needs a facelift, the copper should still be performing as intended.
It will feature the beautiful natural patina that one associates with the copper roofs on Parliament Hill in the nation's capital.