NCC’s architect unveils the house of Nunavut

Iqaluit residents got a look at plans for Nunavut’s first legislative asembly building this week.


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT – The three-storey building that will house Nunavut’s first legislative assembly will be “touchable” and “approachable,” architect Bruce Allen told a group of Iqalungmiut earlier this week.

Allen, a partner in Arcop, a Montreal-based architectural firm hired to design the Nunavut capital building, helped show off plans for its interior and exterior Tuesday in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit architect Keith Irving of Full Circle Architecture helped Allen’s firm in its work.

First look at the plans

It was the first showing of the plans, giving Iqaluit business people a peek at the design even before the board of directors of the Nunavut Construction Corporation have seen it.

Located behind the Parnaivik building in Iqaluit’s downtown, the new, 3000-square metre edifice will contain offices for the Nunavut bureaucracy, as well as for members of the legislative assembly.

It will also house the Nunavut government’s first legislative chamber.

Built out of timber, the structure will rise three storeys above the ground and will be composed of two separate buildings joined by a large lobby area.

One half of the building will contain offices while the other will house a circular assembly chamber. A suspended, translucent ceiling with echoes of an igloo roof encloses the two-storey chamber space.

Reflecting the landscape

“Members are aware of who they represent and the landscape around them,” Allen said, as he described the rationale for installing a wall of windows in the southern face of the building.

The chamber will be outfitted with special seating for elders and the general public, as well as space for interpreters and translators.

Allen added this space was designed as a temporary chamber and can be converted into offices by simply adding a floor.

“We hope people like and understand what we have to date,” said architect Norman Globerman, another partner with Arcop. “We need input now before we finalize it.”

Tight schedule

But a tight schedule will inevitably reduce the amount of public input that’s possible. The entire process must be a quick one if architects hope to finalize the exterior design by mid-January.

Designing the interior is more flexible, Globerman explained.

“At NCC we’re working with a limited time frame,” said Tagak Curley, president of the Nunavut Construction Corporation (NCC). “I don’t know how many changes can be made.”

Although a substantial amount of work has been completed since architects were given the functional requirements for the building in September, a number of non-design hurdles remain.

Financing not worked out

One of those hurdles is financial.

NCC will construct the building and lease it back to the federal government over a 20-year period. How much Ottawa will pay, however, has yet to be negotiated.

Jim Davison, who’s overseeing the project for the federal department of public works, said his office needs to see a final package complete with detailed designs before negotiations can being “in earnest.” He’s expecting that sometime in late March.

And the leasing arrangement for the actual lot on which the building will sit is also up in the air.

Currently, the federal government has a reserve on the lot, but the Town has suggested a $350,000, 30-year lease.

Ottawa and the Town of Iqaluit have yet to resolve the status of the lot.

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