ArchitectFournier Gersovitz Moss Drolet et associés architectes
Architect - Project ManagerNational Capital Commission/Real Estate Management, Design and Construction Branch
Rideau Hall has been the official residence of the Governor General of Canada since 1868. Along with the parliament buildings, it constitutes the country's most significant architectural heritage and remains a focal point of Canada's political history. Every year, numerous heads of states, dignitaries and distinguished Canadians are greeted by the Governor General at Rideau Hall to attend official receptions, meetings and events. Daily, the general public is also invited to enjoy the grounds and visit what 'His Excellency,' Governor General David Johnston, has called: the home of all Canadians. The ceremonial entrance hall, built in 1913, must therefore create a memorable first impression in the minds of all visitors.
The Handrail Project
With this objective in mind, a new handrail for the main entrance hall was commissioned by the National Commission of Canada, custodian of the country's official residences in Ottawa, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Made possible by a generous donation from Roger Lindsay, the new handrail was conceived to enhance the esthetic and symbolic character of the hall while improving conditions of accessibility, health and safety. The resulting handrail is an exquisitely crafted, entirely Canadian product, made to serve visitors and residents for generations to come.
The Handrail Design
In order to create a dialog between the historic room and its newest feature, the configuration and proportions of the handrail design were drawn from the Edwardian architecture of the Hall itself. The decorum attached to entering the Front Foyer has been enhanced by the rhythm and detailing of the new handrail flanking the Hall's wide marble stair, and by the noble materials used in its fabrication, bronze and art glass. The design is also meant to evoke the nation's history, without resorting to conventional iconography. The handrail is a composition of forms inspired by nature ― mineral and vegetal ―and of patterns suggesting its transformation by the work of the human hand or the action of the machine. It therefore combines stock and machined-bronze components with forged- or hand-tooled elements. It mixes precise architectural framing with freer organic insertions, like the branch-shaped bars, the volute brackets and the icy, flowing patterns of the narrow art-glass panels. This merging of nature, with the work of man, stands for the tie between Canada's evolution as a country and the landscape that nurtured it.
Rideau Hall's new front entrance handrail makes a significant contemporary contribution to this major Canadian landmark. It is an emblem of contemporary Canadian design and craftsmanship.
Architectural Category: Interiors