It began with the pomp and circumstance of an official re-opening by Prince Charles on July 1 as part of the Canada 150 Canada Day celebrations. It was a fitting event for a signature building in the capital that has often been referred to as a bunker and which is being transformed into a crystal beauty that its leader wants to be the “living room of the city.”
The National Arts Centre, in case you hadn’t heard, has been getting a huge facelift. And if you haven’t seen its new look yet, here’s what you’re missing.
First came Phase 1, which included a new, fully accessible Elgin Street entrance, relocated box office and a sunny lower atrium.
Next was Phase 2, which was unveiled earlier this month with the opening of the second floor of the north atrium, including several public rooms for use as scenic performance and event space. And there’s an updated Fourth Stage facing Elgin Street so passersby can take in the show along with concert-goers.
A third phase with an expanded Panorama Room is still to come, as is the finishing of the lantern room (the new glass entrance).
Ultimately, the NAC wants to be thought of as more of a community centre, a natural gathering place beyond scheduled performances. To that end, more welcoming features such as lots and lots of glass to connect the building to the street, a coffee shop, open rehearsals, and an increase in casual Fridays (a meet and mingle event for budding musicians to rub shoulders with the pros) are being incorporated as a drawing card.
And there are also plans for more varied programming to suite many tastes and experiences, all with the goal of bringing a closer connection to the community.
So, if you haven’t been by yet, stop in, take a peek and enjoy a bit of this new city living room.