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Explore the Building

The design of Ādisōke was inspired by many sources, including the beauty of the natural world surrounding the Kichi Zìbì Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills, the history of the city and region, Indigenous history, heritage and culture, and the role of the building as a gathering space for all.

The facility was designed by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Ottawa-based KWC Architects. The design is a result of extensive public consultations and collaboration with Indigenous partners that inspired all aspects of the facility, inside and out.

In this area of the website, you can learn about the design themes that inspired the project, explore the facility’s interior spaces, and learn about the Public Art program. 


Spanning five floors and encompassing over 20,100 square metres (216,000 square feet), the new building will feature shared spaces, such as the Central gathering space, café and large multi-purpose meeting areas, along with spaces devoted to specific uses of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

Explore the spaces of Ādisōke by level. (Additional renderings will be added to this section as they become available).

Design Themes

The design of Ādisōke draws inspiration from the natural world and from the facility’s location on the traditional, unceded territory of the Anishinābe Algonquin People, who have lived in the area since time immemorial.

The waved roof, warm wood and grey stone of the facility’s exterior represent the landscape and its materials. The shape of the building is reminiscent of the Kichi Zìbì Ottawa River, and its stone and wood exterior reflect the escarpment and the surrounding greenspace.

Cedar that has been treated and sealed to resist the winter weather, as well as the sun’s natural wear, will be used. The building’s warm tones will complement the changing seasons.

The windows, top floors and rooftop offer unparalleled views of the Kichi Zìbì Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills. The glass windows, ranging from clear to tinted, will be covered with a ceramic fritting to reduce the risk of bird collisions. The Indigenous Public Art program will inform the design of this fritting, which will cover the building and support the partners’ commitment to a bird-friendly design.

Anishinābe Algonquin Design Elements

The land surrounding the Chaudière Falls is a sacred meeting place for the Anishinābe Algonquin Nation and other First Nations, associated with a portage and trade route for Indigenous people along the Kichi Zìbì Ottawa River.

Wigwams were traditional housing for Algonquin peoples. They evoke home, warmth and community​. A circular lodge on the second level, designed as a contemporary rendition of a traditional wigwam will be a space for meetings and functions. It will be space where Indigenous peoples feel welcome and see themselves reflected in the space through the design, displays and artwork by Indigenous artists.

Polar orientation and associated colouring have important history for Anishinābe Algonquin People. These will be featured in the wayfinding wheel at the Albert Street Entrance.

Algonquin community members directed the Architects to design an interior atrium space that is a warm and inviting, not “white and sterile.” As such, the design of the atrium will feature warmth in the wood paneling balustrades of the stairs and balconies. Furniture and design elements will be chosen to reflect this comment and public art will be featured prominently in the space.

Oral history listening stations at the library will include stories and teachings of Anishinābe Algonquin and Indigenous oral traditions. Community members, Elders and knowledge keepers will be invited to collaborate in the oral history project.

The landscape surrounding Ādisōke, and specifically at the exterior indigenous garden area, will include native plants and trees that have traditional significance for Anishinābe Algonquin communities. A gathering circle will be part of the landscape surrounding the facility.

Birds eye view of Ottawa River.

Public Art

Public art will be an integral part of the design and construction of Ādisōke. It will beautify, enliven and activate various spaces within the facility. In July 2019, UK-artist, Jason Bruges Studio was awarded the role of “Artist on Design Team” for the facility. Seventy-four national and international artists submitted their work for consideration during a two-stage competitive process. 

In addition, the Indigenous Public Art Program for Ādisōke will honour, support and showcase Indigenous art created by Indigenous artists from Canada. This program will integrate public artwork by local, regional and national Indigenous artists (First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation) throughout the interior and exterior of the facility. Along with the project partners and the City of Ottawa’s Public Art department, Dawn Saunders Dahl, Curator of Indigenous Art for the facility, developed five Indigenous Public Art Calls to Artists for Indigenous artists.


Ādisōke will have many features that will make it a model of green infrastructure in the National Capital Region. Thanks to additional funding from the federal government in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the facility will meet the standards to be a net-zero carbon building. Net-zero carbon buildings reduce energy consumption to a minimum through building design strategies and efficiency measures to the point where the use of non-carbon-based energy sources becomes practical.

The building’s material choices also contribute to the building’s net zero design, including: reclaimed wood, enhanced energy efficient lighting, improved indoor air quality filtration, a green wall, sequestered carbon in the concrete, solar cells on rooftop panels, as well as integrated into building exteriors, and an increased R insulation rating throughout.

Here are some other features that will make the new facility a sustainable building:

  • an important community living space at the heart of the national capital, surrounded by green parklands and trees with the river running nearby
  • native plants
  • a green roof
  • large-scale use of natural materials, including wood and stone
  • more sustainable building materials, inside and out
  • upgraded insulation
  • triple-glazed windows
  • abundant natural light inside the building
  • a bird-friendly design
  • recycling and composting equipment
  • connection to the federal government’s heating and cooling district energy system
  • access by public transit, bicycle paths and walking trails
  • digitized tools and content at LAC to reduce the need for researchers to commute to Ottawa for basic reference questions

Accessibility and Inclusivity

The design of the facility offers the opportunity to create a building that is accessible, inclusive, welcoming and open to all. Universal accessibility is an important objective in the building design. Through the application of stringent universal design standards, the goal is to be one of the most accessible buildings in the National Capital Region.

Architectural rendering of a bright room with multi-lingual artwork, bookshelves and seating. People are sitting in conversation areas and browsing shelves.

Here are five main features that will make the building inclusive:

  • multiple entrances
  • glass elevators
  • all-gender washrooms
  • sensory rooms
  • interior ramps
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