The Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards

Strategic rebirth of a 75-year old city works building

The Innovation Centre project involved the adaptive re-use of a c.1941 heritage-designated city works building into a brand new facility whose primary ambition is to enable creative entrepreneurs to find resources and services to launch and develop innovative new products and services with a view to global market penetration. The reinvented facility is also utilized to host a variety of networking and educational events related to the local and in some cases, international business community. In addition to the approximately 150 entrepreneurs present in the facility, there are accommodations for various support agencies such as Invest Ottawa, Ontario Centres of Excellence and the National Research Council Industrial Research Program. Further anchor tenants, post-secondary institute tenants and professional service providers increase the occupancy by approximately 100.

Above: The former city works building as found in 2015

The new Innovation Centre and surrounding grounds are a source of community pride and emphasize Ottawa’s position as a technology hub and centre of innovation and economic development.

The interior design concept was developed around a journey of discovery one may take throughout the space, which conceptually reflects the start up, development and graduation of enterprises using the Centre. Materials utilized throughout the space transition from a more unfinished, raw aesthetic in the Incubator Hall to a more polished, refined environment in the Corporate Office Space.


“This is a highly successful repurposing of Ottawa’s industrial architectural heritage and an important showcase for adaptive reuse. The transformation of this 1940s “industrial modern” building to a technology hub for 21st century entrepreneurs celebrates Ottawa’s legacy of innovation.”

— Jury Comments, 2018 Ottawa Heritage Awards

The development of the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards reflects a broad interest in celebrating the legacy of innovation in Ottawa and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. The rehabilitation of the building is one of the first stages in reconnecting a former industrial area with the wider community and stitching it back into the neighbourhood. This previously isolated and derelict building is now an essential part in creating awareness, supporting enterprise and celebrating success. The building is designed to play a complex series of roles, including encouraging wide community consciousness of the practice of heritage conservation and its benefit to the community and engagement.

Above: The former city works building as found in 2015

The Innovation Centre is a heritage container with related spaces developed to convey innovation, dynamics, industry and discovery. Within this adapted framework a solution evolved that now inspires the tenants and visitors with a design that facilitates free thinking, providing spaces for conversation and social mixing. The rehabilitated building is configured to encourage random collisions and serendipitous meetings between the diverse group of people who work in and visit the building. This is a fun place to work.

The building has been maintained and adapted over nearly 75 years and it is fitting that within this rehabilitated and readapted shell, the evolution of trade continues with the development of novel and cutting-edge technologies in support of life in the 21st Century. The exposed concrete structure in the interior as well as a number of preserved artifacts (including the wooden garage doors, gridded steel sash windows and suspended hoist beams) create spaces that reflect the history and heritage of the building.

Above: The former city works building as found in 2015


“This conversion of a 1940s City Works Yard building into an Innovation Hub demonstrates how the careful and pragmatic adaptive reuse of an unprepossessing building can transform the dynamics of a neighbourhood, create a sense of place, and at the same time support social and cultural continuity. The act of preservation conserves embodied energy in the existing structure and avoids that associated with a new building. The LEED Gold certification is exemplary for an adaptive reuse project.”

— Jury Comments, 2020 Canadian Green Building Awards

The project showcases the potential for the adaptive reuse of vacant industrial buildings and demonstrates that it can be done both affordably and sustainably. Aside from retaining over 85% of the building’s original structure, the project integrates a number of other sustainable features encompassing the ecological, economic
and social aspects of design:

  • Maximized thermal performance through use of premium insulation and fenestration
  • High efficiency mechanical & electrical systems supplemented by a comprehensive building automation system that modulates equipment runtimes to varying building loads and not fixed schedules
  • Embraces alternate modes of transportation, urban agriculture and green furniture

The has been lauded for its “outside the box,” unconventional approach to what is essentially an office building, recognizing the many qualities that were born purely out of the adaptive re-use philosophy. The project achieved LEED Gold certification in 2018.

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