Gabriel Mackinnon is proud to have been responsible for illuminating Canada’s chamber of “Sober Second Thought”.

Completed in 2019 as a part of a shuffle of parliamentary functions allowing the overdue renovation of the Centre Block, the Senate of Canada has been installed in long-term temporary digs in Ottawa’s century old train station. Located at the end of the Rideau Canal and in the shadow of Parliament Hill, the newly opened Senate of Canada building is a Beaux-Arts monument in Canada’s capital city.

As specialists in heritage and broadcast lighting, Gabriel Mackinnon was sought to illuminate the many new functions that the original train station was never designed for, while protecting the character and fabric of the building.

For example – the Great Waiting Room is illuminated entirely with uplight, concealed at the cornices. This ensured that the plaster rosette ceiling would not be touched, while also celebrating the soaring vaulted ceiling. One gets the impression that all of the light might be coming from the huge arched windows.

The Red Chamber has been installed in the former train station concourse, which now sports a modern broadcast lighting system. The broadcast lighting is installed on beams suspended below the coffered plaster ceiling, enabling it’s full removal at the end of the Senate’s tenancy. Key lighting is angled to reduce shadowing on senators’ faces, and fill lighting from behind ensures that they look natural and three dimensional on screen. The lighting angles are carefully controlled to ensure that each row of seating is properly illuminated. The round gold-finished provincial and territorial plaques were each illuminated with a careful pop of light to celebrate them in the background of the senate’s proceedings.

The Committee Room also utilizes specialized broadcast lighting, this time recessed into a more modern coffered ceiling, with similarly controlled lighting angles. The lighting scheme also had to support simultaneous interpretation and ensure that interpreters would disappear behind the glass windows at the end of the room.

This project uniquely leveraged Gabriel Mackinnon’s skills in broadcast, architectural and heritage lighting. The building is now open for public tours, and we highly recommend a visit! If you are seeking assistance in heritage or broadcast lighting, please get in touch!